Getting Back To Where I Once Belonged

Above: Not only will I be seeing a lot of longtime friends in April, but I’ll be presenting a talk about Stuck Rubber Baby.

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This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of my class’s graduation from Indian Springs School, a remarkable boarding school located south of Birmingham. In light of this auspicious anniversary a special effort has been underway for quite a while to coax as many of us Class of ’62 folks as possible to converge on the school’s Alabama campus this April for a big class reunion. This gathering will coincide with the school’s annual Alumni Weekend, which lures graduates with an itch to renew old ties from all the classes that have ever spent their high school years there since the place was founded in 1952.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that attending Indian Springs was a life-changing experience for me. Its emphasis was on finding one’s own individual approach to life (the term "search for self" surfaced a lot while I was there) and on committing oneself to a quest for excellence in whatever endeavors one undertook. This approach steered me away from making the acquisition of wealth my main career goal; instead I was encouraged to explore what was most spiritually fulfilling to me and to spend my adulthood nurturing my creativity even if doing so left my bank account leaner. In other words, Indian Springs was obviously tailor-made for a life in the arts.

The school strove from the first to be a laboratory for democracy. School-wide town meetings were held to discuss rules and school-community problems, and in many areas the elected student body played a concrete role in determining policies. I gained important technical skills from working on the school newspaper, which was produced in an on-campus print shop, and involvement in student government helped hone leadership skills that have proved useful in many ways in the intervening years.

And oh, yes — did I mention that the teaching of conventional high school courses was top-notch?

Besides seeing old friends I’ve been asked to present a talk and slideshow about my work while I’m there as part of the school’s Visiting Writers Series. That’s one of two such presentations I’ve been preparing for lately, the other being a talk I’ll be offering to students at Emerson College in Boston on April 3.

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Below left: My seventeen-year-old self reviewing the campaign speech I’m preparing to give in my run for a student government office at Indian Springs. Next to me is my roommate Ben Thomas, a candidate for a different office.

Below right: Another photograph of me, taken a few minutes after the one on the left, captures me in glorious mid-oratory.

Above: John Green, author of the Printz Award-winning novel Looking For Alaska, is also a graduate of Indian Springs (although by the time he entered his high school years I was already well advanced into my decades of adult dissolution. But the fact that I have never met John didn’t stop me from enjoying his amusing YouTube video, which documents a recent return visit he paid to our shared alma mater— complete with an unwelcome bee sting. If you’d like to get a glimpse of my youthful stomping grounds (and a taste of John’s humor), you may enjoy his video as well.

What Else Have I Been Up To?

If you’re a regular reader you may have noticed that my recent pace of blog posts, a leisurely pace in the best of times, has slowed to a crawl lately. That’s because of the time that’s been consumed by a cluster of projects, two of which (my slideshows at Emerson and Indian Springs) I’ve already mentioned.

Looming even larger in my crowded schedule than the aforementioned slideshows have been the final preparations for my next book, which heads off to be printed today and which is due for publication in June. Boom! Town is the publisher. Between the collection’s elaborate cover art (see below) and a number of short essays I was asked to write for inclusion along with the book’s dozens of comic strips and stories from 1972 onward, it’s all been pretty darned time-consuming — especially coming as it did on top of our move to the new house.

The book’s title, as you can see from the cover shot below, will be The Other Sides of Howard Cruse. What are these "other sides" the title is referring to? Well, my last two collections of comics (From Headrack to Claude and The Complete Wendel) plus the new edition of Stuck Rubber Baby, have brought all of my gay-themed comics back into print. But as the new book’s back-cover tagline goes, "He’s known for his gay comics, but that’s not all that’s been on his mind." The mission of this new collection is to remind readers of that.

They may not be gay, but a lot of the comics in Other Sides are pretty adult-oriented, as you can see if you take a glance (proceeding cautiously, ye fainthearted) at the sample 7-pager called "Hell Isn’t All That Bad," which Heidi Macdonald posted as an exclusive preview in her The Beat comics news blog last week. What can I say? A lot of my career was spent drawing underground comic books. You knew that already, didn’t you? In other words, children and easily offended grownups should probably make do with Felix’s Friends.

Wait! There’s More!

Also, during the same time period I was asked to design the cover art for a CD album of the vintage songs that comprise the score for The Seven Little Foys, a new musical by Chip Deffaa.

Chip’s show has already been enjoyed by audiences at the New York International Fringe Festival, but now Chip hopes his musical can gain additional visibility by his use of this recording to demonstrate its merits to new prospective producers.

The Lyre Next Time

I don’t remember when I drew this or what it was for, but maybe it will leave you in a mellow mood.
Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my two self-published books.
…and click here to visit my
Cruse Goodies merchandise shop
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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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One Response to Getting Back To Where I Once Belonged

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    Placed my order for your book. Yay!