Alabama Bound

Above: Me presenting my slideshow to Emerson College students in Boston last week.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve been putting Photoshop through its paces more heavily than usual lately in preparation for two back-to-back slideshows this April. Last Tuesday I received gratifying responses from attendees at the slide presentation I gave at Emerson College. Then on Wednesday Eddie and I enjoyed stimulating exchanges about life in the ’50s and ’60s with Students in Dr. Bradford Verter‘s United States History class.

So that’s one slideshow down and one to go. Since returning from Boston I’ve been working hard on an entirely different illustrated talk I’ll be offering this Friday during Alumni Weekend festivities at my Alabama high school alma mater, Indian Springs.

All this on top of making final corrections on The Other Sides of Howard Cruse! Whew! This marathon multi-tasking has made the last couple of months an unnerving whirlwind. But things should calm down soon, hopefully. Maybe I’ll even be able to blog more frequently. And oh yes, Eddie has some yard work he’s been patiently waiting for me to help him with now that the days are getting warmer.

The Drury Drama Mascot Rides Again!

A few years ago Len ("Doc") Radin, the director and guiding force of the Drury Drama Team at Drury High School in North Adams, asked me to create an actorly-appearing cartoon mascot for his theatre troupe. Since then I’ve occasionally augmented the initial set of drawings I provided with new poses. Here’s my latest (see above), posed this time around as a superhero in accordance with the super-excitement they’re feeling over at Drury about the Drama Team’s arrival at their 25th season of existence.

"We Are All Trayvon" . . .

…Even If We’re Old Enough For Social Security
And Don’t Own a Hoodie

There’s not a lot one can do to encourage justice in Florida from a street corner in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but one does what one can.

A Different Take on the South

I feel a special connection to Lila Quintero Weaver‘s winning new graphic memoir Darkroom because of the sneak peek I was given when it was still at an early stage of development.

It’s the University of Alabama Press‘s first venture into graphic novel territory, and I guess the book’s editor must have thought of seeking my input during its creation because Ms. Weaver’s personal history, as recounted in her book, had a lot in common with my own and with the world I depicted in Stuck Rubber Baby. So the editor wrote and asked if I would be willing to look at Darkroom while it was still a work-in-progress and offer any criticisms and suggestions I thought might be helpful.

Ms. Weaver spent her formative childhood years in Alabama, as I did, and witnessed first hand what a frightening grip racial animus could have on a change-resistant culture. Like mine, the author’s family life was suffused with artistic impulses and a conflicted relationship with religion. Her dad intended to live his life as a minister, a plan that was thwarted when his personal moral compass ran afoul of local white churchgoers’ commitment to segregation. This resonated for me since my own dad was ordained as a Methodist pastor until a moral dispute with his deacons (albeit over less lofty concerns than racial prejudice) abruptly led us to become Baptists. Weaver’s mother was both a homemaker and portrait painter; my mother was a businesswoman, part-time writer, and perpetual student.

But despite such commonalities there were really big ways in which Weaver’s experience was drastically different from mine. She immigrated to Alabama from Argentina with her family in 1961 and grew up straddling cultures in a way that I never had to, which allows her to bring a fresh outsider’s perspective to Darkroom‘s account of family dynamics amid civil turmoil that is gratifyingly distinctive.It’s a very different take on the 1960s South from Stuck Rubber Baby‘s, despite some thematic particulars the two books have in common.

Weaver has told me that my comments on her early manuscript were helpful, which I’m happy to hear. But the richness of her story was evident from the first and would have manifested itself with or without my involvement. Aside from the tale she has to tell, her beautiful pencil-shaded drawings bring her memories into sharp relief; and I’m pleased to see that Publishers Weekly holds the finished work in as high esteem as I do.

And speaking of the South
that Weaver and I experienced in our youth…

…here’s a political cartoon I drew for a local weekly newspaper in 1964, when Darkroom‘s author and I were both residing in Alabama without knowing that each other existed.

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.
This entry was posted in A Tip o' the Hat, Artifacts, Books in my Bookcase, Life & Art, Me, Me, Me!, Pure Toontime, Yesterday & Today. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Alabama Bound

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    That 1964 cartoon still works today. Unfortunately.