Book Promotion Time

Upcoming in Boston

I’ll be driving across Massachusetts next Friday (April 29) to do a reading from The Collected Wendel at Boston’s Calamus Bookstore (92B South Street).

The fun starts at 7 P.M. My plan is to reprise a presentation of "Wendel in the Big City," which I first presented at the Dixon Place performance venue in New York City in 2001 and last offered to an audience in my hometown of Birmingham, AL, in 2002. The piece is culled from a sequence of 1987 Wendel episodes that I adapted a decade ago for use as a non-illustrated reading I could bring to small venues like bookstores, where full-fledged slideshows with a screen and digital projector aren’t necessarily practical.

Meanwhile, in France…

Many years ago I began corresponding with a fellow in Toulouse named François Peneaud. Besides being a professional translator and a comics writer himself, François has long busied himself by making sure a far-flung readership knows what’s happening in LGBT-themed comics around the world through a blog called The Gay Comics List. Happily for linguistic dullards like me, you don’t even have to know French to read the multi-lingual M. Peneaud’s blog.

François and I were pen pals for years before we finally met when I was invited to a 2003 comics convention in Bordeaux. He has always been supportive of my work, the most recent iteration of that support being his invitation earlier this month to be interviewed for a feature about The Complete Wendel that was featured prominently in his blog.

Take a look if you’ve got some time to spare — and not just at my interview.

Mr. Media Comes Calling

Bit by bit my web presence is adding dimensions. A little Googling will uncover a number of all-text Howard Cruse interviews that have been generated over time from email exchanges, live iChats, or transcriptions of conversations. When From Headrack to Claude came out, author Bob Andelman (otherwise known as "Mr. Media" for his web site of that name) upped the ante by devoting one of his podcasts to me, thus propelling my voice, for better or worse, into the ears of his unwary listeners.

Now, in celebration of The Complete Wendel‘s release, Bob has brought my visage to the table with a two-part video Cruse interview conducted a few weeks ago via Skype and conveniently posted on YouTube.

Now you can go beyond reveling in my Alabama twang by contemplating my unruly hair as you revel. And if you take the full plunge you’ll even see me brandishing for the camera (my iMac’s built-in webcam, actually) a few artifacts from my drawing processes that Bob persuaded me to dig out of my files.

Next Sunday’s Homo Radio Interview

On the other hand, should you tune your radio next Sunday (May 1) at noon EST to WRPI, the student radio station at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, you’ll be able to listen to my voice without having to look at me. That’s when I’ll begin chatting for fifteen or twenty minutes with Joe Laux, host of the station’s LGBT program Homo Radio.

You can even listen to our chat (if you’re one of the rare people who don’t live within the station’s immediate broadcast range) by picking up the program’s live Internet stream via your computer at home. Of course, some of you individuals who live in time zones on the other side of the world may find the show’s timing a touch inconvenient, but I’m sure they sell alarm clocks where you live, too.

My Project This Week

My contribution to Main Street Stage‘s upcoming production of Anton Chekhov’s comedy The Seagull, which begins preview performances on May 5 and officially opens on May 7, has been laying out the play’s 16-page program. This is a form of volunteerism that suits my personality well, since it’s something I can do by myself at home without having to memorize any lines.

The fact that The Seagull will be the last production ever mounted by MSS in the venue at 57 Main Street in North Adams that’s been its home for the last twelve years has given me added motivation to make the program as attractive as our budget and my skills allow.

And even though doing layouts for printed publications is often viewed as a less elevated form of art that, say, writing and drawing graphic novels, I have always found the challenge of fitting a bunch of type and images together in a way that makes visual sense a very interesting and absorbing challenge. It’s something you can get lost in, like gluing together model airplanes or constructing ships inside of bottles. Time passes swiftly.

Constructing layouts, even for a theatre program most audience-members will quickly discard once the show is over, reminds me pleasantly of the hours I spent during my high school years analyzing the design decisions that some faraway art director had made so that the copies of Newsweek in the Indian Springs School library could tell their stories effectively. It brings back the satisfaction I took as I tried to apply my lessons learned from Newsweek (or Mad or the Saturday Evening Post) to the layouts I executed for The ISSINFO, our student newspaper.

And even though I would never choose to abandon my cartooning and return to laying out publications for a living, designing a playbill even for an amateur production at a small-town community theatre like Main Street Stage pushes buttons of nostalgia that are rooted early in my career. It’s as if I could momentarily parachute back into the art department at Starlog magazine, which was home back in 1978 of the only endeavor in my professional life that has prompted anyone to name an "era" after me.

(Thanks for the surprise attention, John Zipperer!)

Above: I may be designing the program, but it’s set designer Juliana von Haubrich who’s behind the haunting promotional graphic for this production, in which Chekhov’s gaggle of artists, actors, and misbegotten lovers are relocated from Russia to our present-day Berkshires.

Needled in Northampton

Above: Cartoonist Sean Wang‘s sprightly promotional art for the festival guaranteed good vibes all around.

Northampton’s April 16 Paint & Pixel Festival, which was fast approaching when I wrote my previous blog entry, provided a thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to engage in a day’s worth of interesting conversations with colleagues and comics enthusiasts while selling a few books along the way.

Below: Michael Dow, co-organizer (with Peggy Twardowski) of the festival, stops by my table to chat during the set-up hour before attendees begin arriving.

One of the more memorable moments of the day occurred when a fellow walked up to me and announced that he had something to show me. Rolling up his sleeve, he revealed a striking tattoo emblazoned on his bicep. It was the version of Bazooka Joe I drew for Topps Bubble Gum back in the 1980s, when I was hired to transform the classic kid-with-an-eyepatch, originally created by Woody Gelman, into a teenager.

Need I say I was honored? Not to say amazed!

I had the presence of mind to get Eddie to our the camera and photograph the tattoo, happily; yet I neglected to write down the tattoo-recipient’s name or even come away with a photo that showed his full face. This kind of lapse is, alas, typical of me.

So if you happen to read this, BazookaJoeGuy, email me with your name so I can give you proper credit for the good taste you’ve shown by ushering my Bazooka Joe (since supplanted by versions created by other cartoonists) into the tattoo age.

Below: Me basking in the reflected glory of my version of Bazooka Joe as adapted for tattoo.

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
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About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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2 Responses to Book Promotion Time

  1. Pingback: Moving Days | Loose Cruse: The Blog

  2. Everyone should run out and buy WENDEL. It will make you happy for weeks on end.