Thanksgiving and Onward

Shall we take a look at how things transpired at the Cruse-Sedarbaum homestead during our recent Thanksgiving fest?

Gluttony was indulged, naturally, but that goes without saying on this particular American holiday. Of more importance was the pleasure derived from spending mellow time with friends. Corny, for sure — in the best sense of that word.

And Molly Makes Three

Joining in the Thanksgiving fun (without actually being allowed a place at the table) was Molly, the coal-black Labrador retriever (seen with us below) who is the newest member of our family. While the sting of losing Lulu the Dalmatian last month is still keenly felt, Molly has stepped in to soften the blow and reduce the anguish that comes with dog-deprivation.

None of us know what Molly’s early life was like, but as you can see from the distressing photo on the left below, she had endured tough times of late. In perilous health when she was rescued from strayhood in North Carolina, she was plucked from from the jaws of impending euthanasia and brought north to Vermont by the North Star Labrador Retriever Rescue, where she was cleansed of parasites and nursed back to health, first by North Star itself and subsequently by our friends Brian and Leanne, who provided nurturing foster care until she was strong enough for adoption by Eddie and me.
Above: Molly’s progression from frailty to robustness.

Molly, by now a lot sturdier, is in the process of acclimating herself to new home territory. She is getting less shy by the day and exhibits increasing independence as she explores the expansive back yard once patrolled by her predecessor Lulu.

Molly’s age has been estimated to be between five and six years by her caregivers to date. The vet at Mount Greylock Animal Hospital in nearby North Adams who oversaw her first physical exam since she joined our family thinks it’s closer to six.

Convening In My Work Space

It’s been three years since I bowed out of my teaching career at MCLA, but I got a pleasant reminder of those days in mid-November when that school’s Visiting Associate Art Professor Laura Christensen brought her Intermediate Art Lab students over for a visit to my studio. That’s Laura sitting behind the young folks near the center of the photo below.

Convening on Norman Rockwell’s Turf

Ever notice that some images are so naturally iconic that they beg to paid tribute to (or parodied) by other artists?

Like f’rinstance: "Whistler’s Mother" (well, technically that painting’s title is "Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother," but who can remember all of that?); da Vinci’s ever-intriguing "Mona Lisa," and good old "American Gothic" (which morphed into science-fictional form in The Rocky Horror Picture Show).

Among these memorable images is Norman Rockwell’s "Triple Self-Portrait," which was nicely referenced in Matthew Handfield‘s logo for the recent one-day comics festival at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. And as you can see from the assemblage below, I myself was not above including a grungy variation on Rockwell’s theme in the final panel of my 1999 comic strip, "My Life As a TV Pundit."

All of the above came to mind as I headed down to Stockbridge on the l7th of November to join several fellow comics pros who reside in nearby communities who were invited to be guests at the event. The mini-con was hosted by the museum as an adjuct to its "Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross" exhibition, now enjoying a three-month run there.

Aside from an afternoon’s worth of enjoyable encounters with visitors to the museum, a lot of the fun for us professionals came from simply hanging out with colleagues and talking shop.

Above: Maria Held alongside her husband, artist Bryant Paul Johnson; Peggy Twardowski alongside her husband, comics creator Sean Wan; and Colin Panetta co-creator (with Mark Velard) of Mysterious Transmissions.

Below: Illustrator/Graphic Designer George Amaru with his son Orin.

Below: It was a real pleasure to re-connect at last with Jerry Craft, creator of the comic strip Mama’s Boyz, who I hadn’t seen since we met at another comics convention a scary number of years ago.

Before leaving I was invited by cartoonist and min-comic cheerleader Marek Bennett to a lower level of the museum where he had spent the afternoon mini-comic newbies to grab drawing tools and explore their creativity with abandon. The room’s walls were festooned with the fascinating results of Marek’s mentoring.

Below: Scans of Marek’s recent book, Nicaragua: Comics Travel Journal, plus a couple of his mini-comics. (Since I forgot to bring my camera with me while Marek was showing me the fruits of his mini-comic workshop, I’m sneakily substituting a snapshot of the two or us that was taken at the Rockwell museum in 2007. Don’t tell.)

Book Promotion News

The release last summer of my latest book The Other Sides of Howard Cruse prompted comics journalist Tom Spurgeon to invite me over to his Comics Reporter blog for what turned out to be a lengthy interview not only about that book but about the comics industry in general.

Which reminds me that, December being the kind of month it is, I should assist the gift-givers among you with a few…

Holiday Gifting Tips

Naturally I’d love to have the aforementioned Other Sides of Howard Cruse considered for possible holidays gifting — as long as the projected recipient is over 18 and relatively unshockable. I include the "unshockable" caveat because a number of my old adults-only stories from underground comic books are included between this handsome, hard-bound book’s covers, which probably means it’s not a good bet for Little Jimmy or Grandma, unless Grandma was a crazy hippie in her wilder days (as I was).

On a more specialized note: if you’d like to see the eyes of one or more of your gay friends light up with glee, may I nominate From Headrack To Claude, the complete collection of all the specifically gay-themed comics (other than Wendel and Stuck Rubber Baby) that I drew between 1976 and 2009. (This one has underground stuff in it, too, so the same cautionary note applies.)

From Headrack To Claude, by the way, is the first of my books to be available, thanks to Northwest Press, as an iPad-appropriate e-book app as well as in conventional soft cover book form. You can click either cover in the graphic below to see how to get it in the format you suspect your giftee will like best.

Hey, I Can Do "G-Rated," Too!

While my satirical book Felix’s Friends: A Story For Grown-ups and Unpleasant Children has a mischievous edge, there’s not a whit of unsavoriness in it…

…and my illustrated adaptation of the late Jeanne E. Shaffer’s fable The Swimmer With a Rope In His Teeth has a special place in my heart. (A quick side note: for some reason the description of Swimmer at says it’s intended for ages 12-15. That is so not the case! Jeanne’s allegory about missed opportunities may indeed be a bit dark for non-precocious kids under twelve, but beyond that it should be thought provoking and fully worthy of the attention of adult readers.)

And meanwhile, at my CafePress Cruse Goodies online merchandise shop, you’ll find plenty of thoroughly family-friendly mugs, tee shirts, mouse pads and the like for sale, all decorated with colorful drawings by yours truly that are appropriate, as they say, for children of all ages.

And before I go…

Happy Hanukkah for now…

…and then brace yourself
for the Santa Claus deluge to follow.

A Note to Those Who Enjoy This Blog: Given how irregularly I manage to add entries, you may wish to send me email asking to subscribe to my "Blog Alert" list. That way you’ll be among the first to get notified by email whenever I add a new blog post.
link to e-book app Link to print edition of From Headrack to Claude

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 Thanksgiving and Onward

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    Molly is gorgeous. Mazel tov!