Politics & Penance

Above: Eddie prepares to give training to volunteers who’ve gathered to canvass voters in behalf of the Warren campaign.


Knocking On Doors For Elizabeth

A couple of weeks ago Eddie took a leave of absence from this role as the Main Street Stage Board Chair so that he can devote his energy full time to helping elect Elizabeth Warren as the next U. S. Senator from Massachusetts.

Anyone who paid attention to Warren’s dynamic leadership in creating the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a year ago will understand why working to replace the incumbent Senator Scott Brown— who was inexplicably elected to succeed the late "Lion of the Senate" Ted Kennedy upon the latter’s death and who has since proven himself a darling of the Wall Street fat cats —with a woman of Warren’s sterling credentials is a top priority for everyone in the Cruse-Sedarbaum household. I’m sure that even Lulu the dalmatian will step up to the plate if summoned.


Below: A group photo of Eddie’s corps of volunteers taken immediately before they hit the sidewalks of North Adams.

The Warren campaign is still in its early stages, by the way, with many additional volunteers being needed as November approaches. So any of you North Berkshire County folks who would like to join with Eddie in propelling Warren into the Senate can email me to say so. I will forward all such emails to Eddie’s inbox forthwith and he will get back to you swiftly with details about how you can help.

Vito Gets His Due

Our DVR is set to record the HBO documentary Vito next Monday (July 23 at 9 PM). If you have a DVR and get HBO, you’ll probably want to, too.

Eddie and I were friends with Vito Russo, the inspirational gay activist who’s the documentary’s subject. He was already a hero to me before we met him, though, first because of his essays that I had been reading in gay publications for years and then because of his landmark book, The Celluloid Closet, which was first published in 1981. Celluloid Closet was the culmination of live presentations Vito had been giving throughout the 1970s that documented the demeaning ways that LGBT people had been portrayed in Hollywood films since the early days of cinema. Eventually Vito’s observations on the subject were translated into an identically titled, Emmy award-nominated documentary. By then Vito’s life had been claimed by AIDS, which meant that his irony-inflected voice was denied to the movie’s audience. But the content of his early talks was still there along with most of the clips he had used to demonstrate his points. His longtime friend Lily Tomlin supplied the narration that Vito himself would have supplied in a more just world.

Freshly attesting to the enduring impact that Vito has had on the LGBT community is the fact that, in addition to the aforementioned documentary, two books drawing on his legacy are also reaching bookstore shelves this summer.

I take personal pleasure in having a modest presence in one of them, the first of a two-volume collection of Vito’s writings called Out Spoken: a Vito Russo Reader. It’s edited by the Vito documentarian Jeffrey Schwarz with the help of Bo Young and Mark Thompson; and along with Vito’s essays, Out Spoken will include a pen-and-ink portrait of Vito that I was invited to contribute (see above).


And while you’re in the bookstore (or browsing online), you can also keep your eye out for Michael Schiavi‘s brand-new biography of our friend. Its title is Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo.

I haven’t seen a copy of Shiavi’s book yet, but both Eddie and I were interviewed over the phone by the book’s author a few years ago while he was researching his projected account of Vito’s life. So it’s just possible that some anecdote that one or the other of us provided may have made it into the mix.


Calling Dr. Talbot

My comics-creating colleague and long-distance friend Bryan Talbot has just been given his second Honorary Doctorate. This one’s a Doctorate of Letters from Northumbria University; he has previously received a Doctorate of Arts from the University of Sunderland.

This makes Bryan the first British comics creator ever to be awarded doctorates twice. Despite this historic distinction, he declines to make house calls — at least, transatlantically.

Above: Three of the many beautifully written and illustrated titles that Bryan has contributed to the world’s readers of comic-book literature.


Cute Animal Department

Lookee lookee! Here’s a snapshot of the cute squirrel who likes to climb onto the air conditioner that’s in the window next to Eddie’s work station.

As many of you know, I have demonstrated a soft spot for squirrels in many of my past cartoons. I know, I know: a hard-hitting underground satirist like me should be immune to the siren song of wide-eyed cuteness (especially after all the grief I got for creating Barefootz)!

Yet when it comes to squirrels, I yield to its wiles.

Unfortunately, Eddie and I have been advised by friends that wemust identify and remove whichever nearby tree branch is providing this furry fellow with access to Eddie’s air conditioner, since the critter’s next step will assuredly be to vault onto our roof and chew his way into our attic, where much mischief will ensue.

Et tu, Squirly?

News About My "Other Sides"

My advance copy of The Other Sides of Howard Cruse arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. There’s Good News and (very minor) Bad News about that.

The Good News is that Boom! Town, its publisher, has packaged my new book beautifully. Sturdy hard covers! Sumptuous paper stock! Nice page layouts! I couldn’t be more pleased. (Brief aside: For an insider’s look at how my cover art took shape, click here.)

The Bad News is that I committed a small but regrettable typographical error when I submitted my text for the Acknowledgments Page and then failed to notice it when I reviewed the proofs. I misspelled a name. The gaffe was entirely my fault; no way could my editor have been expected to spot my mistake. Bad, bad me!

Thus do I feel compelled to pay public penance to my old friend Larry Shell in the form of the drawing below. And for those of you who are too young to remember the legendary Vice Presidency of a certain Dan Quayle who is alluded to in my drawing, it’s time for you to bone up on History’s Great Misspellings.


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Celluloid Closet DVD

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 Politics & Penance

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    If only we could have Elizabeth Warren as our senator.