The End Is Near (Year-wise)

As The Logs Burn

This December has been different from its predecessors. For the first time in my adult life I’m living in a house with a working fireplace. This has made the month’s stretch of holidays a pleasantly toasty experience for Eddie, Lulu, and me.

Hopefully yours have been similarly warm and toasty in spirit, whether or not actual flames were involved.

2012!!!

It’s bearing down on us. Expect saturation coverage by CNN.

Christmas Morning 1950

That was the year when Santa brought my brother and me our first bicycles (see above).

Quality Time With Steven

An enjoyable chunk of my holiday season was spent reading Rainy Day Recess, the new collection from Northwest Press of David Kelly‘s engrossing comic strip series from the 1990s.

If you never had the experience of being a gay kid navigating less than felicitous school and family terrains during an era when the straight world hadn’t yet come to grips with the fact that gay kids actually existed, here’s your chance to learn what that was like — for one kid, at least.

If the foregoing describes the kind of life you yourself led in early adolescence, then here’s your chance to indulge in a bittersweet feast of nostalgia.

The Importance of Being "Important"

Above right: Sean poses with his trusty tripod after inducing me to talk at more length about myself than most people would consider acceptable for a modest Alabama boy. The inset images are frames from his documentary.

___________________________________________________

The weeks leading up to Eddie and my move to Williamstown were made livelier by my friend and former tenant Sean Wheeler. Sean had spent time as a radio broadcaster in the Pacific Northwest before moving to North Adams, where he enrolled in MCLA‘s communications program with the goal of shifting from radio to television. He also rented the apartment above Eddie’s and my Cliff Street digs temporarily before deciding it made sense for him to move closer to the MCLA campus.

Following his graduation from the college earlier this year Sean snagged an internship at Willinet, Williamstown’s community TV station. Prodded by his supervisor to have a go at producing a mini-documentary about some interesting local personality, Sean asked me if I would be willing to be profiled for his project.

I said I was game, so Sean hauled his camcorder and microphone over to my Cliff Street studio and began quizzing me for posterity about my life history. Weeks of editing followed during which Eddie and I busied ourselves with our move. We had barely settled in when Sean phoned to report that his 28-minute documentary was now finished.

Besides airing Sean’s video handiwork a few times already, Willinet and has posted it online in its entirety for all the world to see. It’s called, appropriately enough, "I Must Be Important ‘Cause I’m in a Documentary!!" As its title indicates, I’m perpetually in need of reassurance.

Into the Sunset?

Traffic’s been slow at my "Cruse Goodies" online merchandise shop, and in a week or so I’ve gotta decide whether to pay the cost of maintaining it for another year. So if you’ve ever thought of enriching your life with mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, clocks, or other stuff decorated with my cartoons, you may want to take action soon, since the opportunity to purchase them may soon vanish into the mists like Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon.

Hey, here are books of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my self-published gems.
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.
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Settling In

We Did It!

Despite the apprehensions expressed in my previous post seven weeks ago, Eddie’s and my move to Williamstown has been successfully accomplished and I have finally recovered enough to resume blogging. I will pause now to allow your celebratory huzzahs to subside.

Any of you who pine for a play-by-play account of one family’s relocation to new quarters can pop over to the Facebook photo album I posted to satisfy those needs. Special thanks are due to Christine Girard at Steepleview Realty for tirelessly guiding Eddie and me through a year’s worth of house hunting, including several attempted purchases that ran aground.

Good News / Bad News

Both good news and bad news accompanied our project. The good news was that we were able almost immediately to find charming tenants to occupy the downstairs portion of the two-family North Adams house that Eddie and I have called home since 2004. Before we could finish enjoying our sighs of relief, however, the bad news arrived: our existing upstairs tenants, whom we very much like, told us that they would have to move out very soon due to family demands of their own.

So if any of you who’re reading this are currently apartment hunting in the North Adams area, let me know.

Puck Has a Party

Earlier this year I was invited to join over 170 cartoonists from all over the world in creating an 88-page jam organized by the Italian humor magazine Puck. The result, called Puck Comic Party, came out this fall, and it’s uninhibited (and uncensored) storyline turned out to be as rude, crude, and thoroughly bonkers as you might expect, given what a crazy crew we cartoonists can be when let loose without adult supervision. While Puck‘s editors organized the project, they had no input at all on how we contributors chose to fill the three panels allotted to each of us. Hence, anarchy ran rampant.

I and other English-speaking cartoonists were allowed to submit our respective panels in our native tongue. We were then provided with Italian translations of our dialogue, which we were invited to re-letter for publication in our individual lettering styles (see below).

So one might think, looking at my panels, that I can speak Italian. One would be wrong.

They’re Talking About Me in Germany
(and Damned If I Can Tell What They’re Saying)

This fall’s release by Cross Cult of its new German edition of Stuck Rubber Baby (as translated by Andreas Knigge, who also contributed commentary) has generated a gratifying flurry of attention over in Germany. This attention has taken the form reviews, commentary, and interviews in both written and, via podcasts and radio broadcasts, spoken form.

Folks listening to interviews falling in the last category won’t be rewarded with too big a dose of my mellifluous southern intonations, I should add. The small snippets culled from my comments in those interviews are swiftly overridden by the voices of the broadcasters’ respective translators, but they do serve as evidence that my interviewers and I really did pick up our phones and engage in conversations.

Those phrases of mine that do reach German ears will do so with admirable clarity, I pleased to say, thanks to the professional assistance provided by my friend Jason Brown of BMA Audio in nearby Monterey (about whom I have blogged before). Thanks, Jason.
__________________

Below: Yours truly speaking to interviewer Christian Möller through Jason’s high-end microphones.

It’s been interesting to discover how closely the Occupy Wall Street movement is being followed by politically minded people in Germany. This has prompted several of my interviews to solicit my thoughts about OWS in addition to reflections about Stuck Rubber Baby. My book’s portrayal of 1960s civil rights activism apparently tempts some to think I’m likely to have useful insights about the invigorating grassroots protests that are erupting around the world today.

I’m not sure whether such interest in my commentary is well placed, I have to admit. But whatever objective value my observations may have, I do enjoy airing my feelings for public consumption — even if that public is an ocean away — about the present-day ferment, since I get far fewer opportunities to dispense my wisdom concerning current events than I do to talk about my graphic novel. SRB has been out for sixteen years now, after all, which means I’ve clocked in a lot of hours already saying my piece about it.
_________________

P.S.: Outlets are sparse for my topical cartoons these days. But last month’s pepper-spraying of peaceful demonstrators by campus cops at the University of California in Davis did get my blood boiling, as evidenced by the cartoon below, which I felt impelled to get out of my system even if my studio was still knee-deep in unpacked boxes at the time.

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my latest books.
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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.
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Just In Time For Halloween

What’s Scarier Than Being
Attacked In Your Bed By Zombies?

Answer: Knowing that during the next few weeks you’re going to be uprooting yourself from a home you’ve been quite comfortable in and packing up a few decades’ worth of possessions to be hauled to a different house that’s a mere fifteen minutes away and that still needs to have a bunch of work done on it before you move in.

Below: Eddie and me alongside what will soon be our new home in Williamstown.

There are solid reasons for going to the trouble of disassembling and reassembling our lives at this juncture and, as our friends in the area know, the plan for this move has been simmering for a year or so. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to explain it all right now because I’ve got boxes to pack. Maybe once we’ve settled into the new digs I’ll devote some blog space to filling in the blanks.

Don’t hold your breath for that, though, ’cause I get the feeling that I’m not going to have much free time for blogging for a few weeks. But all will eventually become clear, so bear with me! You can sign onto my BlogAlert List described below if you want to get notified promptly when I resurface.)

Say, What’s Not to Love About Moving?

Above: Twenty years ago I helped my mom move out of the house in Birmingham that she’d lived in for the previous thirty years. I, uh, wouldn’t have missed it for the world!!

Breaking News:
Lulu Sits Still For a Photograph

You can count on one hand (with several fingers left over) the number of extant photos that include both Eddie and me in the same frame as a relaxed Lulu. In fact, coaxing Lulu to relax in front of a camera long enough for a shutter to click has always been a major accomplishment. She’s got a real sixth sense about surreptitious attempts to document her on the fly.

The rarity of family portraits that include the three of us arises from the fact that whenever a camera lens gets trained on Lulu, either Eddie or I is usually outside camera range taking the picture. We learned early on that setting the camera on delay and trying to race into view before the shutter clicks is no way to keep a fidgety Dalmatian calm.

So when a visitor to the household (like my old college friend Rosemary Murphree) thinks to quietly pick up her camera while we’re chatting and capture what is a fairly common two-guys-and-a-canine tableau like the one above, you can bet that the result is going to make it into this blog.

Which brings me to the great pleasure of spending time recently with…

Visitors From Afar

Above: Molly (left), Rosemary (right), and me posing at the door Big of Shirl’s.

Actually, Ridgefield, CT, where Molly lives, doesn’t really qualify as all that "afar" from North Adams. But if you average the distance from Connecticut to here with the distance from here to Albany, CA, where Rosemary lives, it was like welcoming two dusty travelers from somewhere in Nebraska into our home.

And temporally speaking, my friendship with Molly and Rosemary dates from times that seem far away indeed, from our College Theatre days at Birmingham-Southern when we were three spring chickens blossoming (I love mixed metaphors) under the tutelage of the inspiring and fondly remembered Dr. Arnold Powell.

Molly and Rosemary, being hardier souls than either Eddie or me, had spent Saturday rafting o’er the raging waters of the Deerfield River before driving o’er here to spend the night at our home. On Sunday morning Eddie and I proceeded to undo any health benefits they may have gained from Saturday’s exercise by tempting them into a calorie infusion at Big Shirl’s Kitchen, one of our area’s signature gustatory attractions (particularly when you’re craving a delicious carbohydrate overload with your morning coffee).

Ah, Those College Days!

Spending time with my BSC buds brings back many memories of my youthful creative efforts. And not only in the theatrical realm: I also produced "The Cruse Nest," a regular cartoon feature for our student newspaper, The Hilltop News, during my senior year. My drawing style was just beginning to find itself at the time, as you can see from the example below.

Of course, as everyone knows, my art took a different turn once I discovered psychedelics.

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
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My Spin on “Oliver Twisted”

The great John Pound is the artist responsible for establishing the look and painting most of the images that made the Topps Company‘s Garbage Pail Kids a sensation back in the ’80s. While I can’t swear that John painted the "Oliver Twisted" image on the left below, since Topps wouldn’t let any of its contributing cartoonists sign their commissioned work, it sure looks like his style.

Whereas the rendition of the same character on the right below is obviously drawn in my style, not John’s.

All of the Garbage Pail Kid images, of course, are trademarked and owned lock, stock, and barrel by Topps (including the few that I myself drew back in the day), so they wouldn’t normally be fodder for my Rapidograph unless Topps itself was assigning me to render them. Topps has proven to be indulgent with its large universe of GPK fans, however, by allowing them to contact cartoonists with any connection to the original series with requests for custom renditions of the characters produced for their home enjoyment. Topps even provides blank GPK cards on which the drawings can be rendered that are the same size as "real" Garbage Pail Kid trading cards.

That’s how I came to be approached months ago by the father of a young GPK enthusiast named Oliver for a Cruse version of Pound’s "Oliver Twisted," which the dad wanted to give his son as a birthday gift. And now that the son’s August birthday has come and gone, I can share it with you beloved blog-followers without worrying that I’ll accidentally spoil the surprise.

Sometime during the 1970s I drew the above illustration for Crawdaddy magazine. If I had had better foresight, I would have kept more exact records about when that was and what the subject was of the article it was illustrating. For now I can only offer it as yet another of my stray artifacts from a time when my cartooning career was just beginning to get a little traction.
Here’s a photo of me when I was seven, standing next to my mother’s mother. Her given name was Nellie, but all we ever called her was Grandmother Russell. To my kid’s eye she looked remarkably like Charles Kuhn‘s comic strip character Grandma (see inset). And actually, to my adult’s eye she still does! (It’s that prominent chin of hers that seals the deal.)
Solomita’s Back

I’ve mentioned books by my crime novelist friend Steve Solomita before and, by George, nobody’s gonna stop me from doing so again pretty much any time my author pal lobs a new one into bookstores.

The weird thing about the pleasure I take in Solomita’s mayhem-packed chronicles is that I generally shrink from violence in literature. But Steve always pulls me into his stories because he spins his tales so entertainingly.

His new book this time around is called Angel Face. Be warned that a reader may well get some blood spatters and even bits of exploded brain matter on his shirt just from reading it — but the suspense is worth it and it all comes out in the wash.

How "Mom" Almost Saved Me

Writing and drawing my 1995 graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby was one of the most rewarding creative experiences of my life, but it also left me in a scary amount of debt, with no obvious way to recoup my losses in the short term.

My anxiety over this development was alleviated unexpectedly by a freelance assignment that materialized out of the blue just when things seemed most dire. An advertising agency approached me about creating a cartoon mascot character for Mail Order Meds, an outfit that sold HIV drugs by mail. Mail Order Meds (M.O.M.—get it?) wanted a humorous, motherly character that could be featured not only in a whole series of the client’s print ads but would also appear on calendars, posters, and all kinds of other promotional merchandise. It sounded like a great gig, perfectly timed to get my wobbly finances back on track.

The agency liked the image I came up with (see above), and I had visions of my "Mom" mascot becoming a lucrative, economically stabilizing cash cow of the sort that the Exxon "tiger-in-your-tank" character had obviously been for whichever lucky cartoonist came up with that classic advertising icon.

My cartoon "Mom" was launched with a handsome ad, the first of many, presumably. I deposited the check the agency handed me and waited excitedly for the succession of follow-up assignments that I had been assured would follow. But I guess the campaign didn’t attract as many customers as the client had hoped, because I never heard from anyone connected to M.O.M. again.

So goes the life of a freelancer.

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my latest books.
…and click here to visit my
Cruse Goodies merchandise shop
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.
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Memories, Dogs, and Fears

I drew the picture above to accompany my 2003 online essay "Two Years, Two Wars, and One Dog Ago," which I posted on my web site as the second anniversary of 9/11 was approaching.

Now, as saturation coverage of the terrorist attack’s tenth anniversary descends, I find myself remembering the personal emotions from that week in 2001 that I was trying to express when I sat down to draw this image. Eddie and I were still living in New York City’s borough of Queens on the day the twin towers fell. Although Jackson Heights was several miles away from Ground Zero, it was still too close for comfort. After spending September 11 itself glued to CNN in a dazed and unbelieving stupor, I numbed myself by getting lost in the graphics grunt work required for an update of my web site.

Within view at all times was my portable television, which for days broadcast one horrific account after another of the disaster’s aftermath and rescue efforts. The window at my right provided, in grim counterpoint to the TV reportage, a view of the compromised blue sky over Manhattan, bisected as it was by a broad stream of smoke from the fallen towers that took a week or more to dissipate — smoke that was leaving, as we now know, the seeds of much bronchial distress and many future cases of cancer in its wake.

The orange dog who is peering out the window in my cartoon is Foxy, who herself died of cancer some months thereafter. Foxy made a habit of keeping me company while I hovered over my computer in those days, since her favorite chair was positioned immediately to the left of my workstation. Whenever I needed psychic respite I could reach across the back of her chair and stroke her belly, which she always flipped over to provide easy access to in the most wanton of ways.

Foxy had instantly adopted the chair when we first brought it into our Jackson Heights apartment, noticing that its size was perfect for a dog her size. It began as a "real" chair for humans to sit in, but so quickly and decisively did Foxy make it her own that we bowed to her will by sawing off its legs to make it even more dog-accessible.

Foxy was as central a figure in Eddie’s and my household while the 1990s were winding down as Lulu the Dalmatian is now. Foxy even made cameo appearances in a couple of my mock-autobiographical comic strips (see the panel below, for example, from "A Zoo Of Our Own").

Lulu hasn’t generated any cartoon doppelgangers to date, unless you count the cartoon/photo-hybrid rendition of her that appears at the top of her Lulu Page. Getting those spots of hers right would be really hard. Still, seasoned readers of my blog will attest that Lulu has been no stranger to this online venue. We here in Eddie-and-Howie-Land make a point of giving our canine family members due prominence.

And although Lulu and Foxy never met, they enjoyed successive friendships with Cloud (see below), a burly white dog in rural Vermont whom we always looked forward to seeing when we visited friends in Readsboro.

Anyway, meditating on dogs past and present is a lot more pleasant than remembering the day ten years ago when thousands abruptly met their deaths from a lethal combination of hijacked airplanes and political/religious fanaticism. The 1993 essay I referred to at the top of this blog is by now out-of-date in many ways, of course. For one thing, when I composed it I was still able to offer my hope that George W. Bush would not be re-elected in 2004.

So much for that dashed hope!

But one thing that still feels relevant is the essay’s overall sense of foreboding, since I feared then and still fear now that our nation is being propelled by the unthinking obsessions of a self-involved few toward a dark place that scares me more than hijacked airplanes ever will.

Above: My older brother and me on our father’s knee, at a time in our lives when it was still possible to feel safe and protected.
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Granny Sue, From Whom All Good Things Flow

"Granny Sue" is a handcrafted wall hanging that my sister-in-law Susan purchased for me on impulse while she and Eddie and I were browsing at a nearby Goodwill store here in North Adams. Something about it struck a chord with me instantly, and it has occupied an honored place in my studio ever since.

I view Granny Sue as my mascot and muse. So what if a label in back tells me she was made in China? I’m all in favor of immigration, and maybe someday somebody in China will reciprocate by buying my graphic novel.

Hurricane Q&A

Q So how did you and Eddie fare during and after last weekend’s big storm?

A Eddie and I were more fortunate than many others as far as Hurricane Irene goes. We had no lengthy blackouts; just a few outage blips that forced us to repeatedly re-set our electric clocks and made our cable TV connection re-boot spontaneously. We mainly experienced the hurricane/tropical storm as a very, very lengthy downpour that wasn’t that different than many other rainstorms that blow through town without a name attached. Some roads were washed out near us, but North Adams hasn’t had to deal with anything remotely as heavy-duty as have the stranded and devastated residents of Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey whose plights have been widely shown on CNN (not to mention other northeasterners whose ordeals haven’t made the cut national news-coverage-wise).

So don’t worry about Eddie or me; just direct your good thoughts and, where possible, practical assistance to the folks who were within Irene’s reach who have actually suffered.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Wendel in Northampton

Last week’s gabfest with readers of The Complete Wendel at Northampton’s Modern Myths was great fun for me, with hospitality and good vibes being showered on me by the members of the Modern Myths Book Club who attended.
An Alabamian Makes Good Across The Pond

Ben Duncan was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Just like me.

Unlike me, however, he migrated to England and, after too many interesting adventures and struggles to summarize here, gained impressive prominence as an on-air essayist on BBC radio broadcasts. In 1962, when he was only 26, he expanded his range beyond short autobiographical radio pieces by penning the fascinating book-length account of his evolution called The Same Language.

The version of that title that you’ll find at Amazon if you click on the foregoing link, I should mention, is a far different animal from its 1962 predecessor. Published in 2005 by the University of Alabama Press, the present incarnation of Duncan’s memoir has been enriched by the addition of all the memories of and observations about the gay aspects of his life that cultural norms prevented him from including when The Same Language first saw print in ’62.

That by itself, thanks to its clearly indicated temporal bifurcation (the newly written sections are printed in italics), would make the memoir an interesting read sociologically. But the more important reason for delving into this book is that Duncan is an irresistibly entertaining storyteller. I was a committed fan by the time I had read his memoir’s first few pages, and my enthusiasm remained undiminished through the rest of the book. The author’s account of the sparring match that arose between his teacher and himself as he was learning to read his first sentence in school is as wittily told as the steps he took to make a name for himself as a British broadcaster.

P.S.: To hear the man himself reading passages from The Same Language at a bookstore in 2005, take a look at these video clips, which are helpfully housed at the Southern Spaces web site.

Alabama Boys at Summer Camp

Even though my brother and I can sometimes look similar in these old photos, I’m pretty sure that that’s Allan and not me on the upper bunk on the left in this shot of campers and counselors hanging out at Camp Winnataska during the 1950s. I’m concluding that because I recognize the three other campers as being in my bro’s age cohort from back in Springville. (Come to think of it, those Winnataska counselors were not un-hunky, were they?)

Camp Winnataska, by the way, was the inspiration for the fictional Camp Chokkaholluck in my Wendel series (see below).

Above: A drawing in ink and markers from 1973.

A Thank You Note

Many thanks to Oxford American magazine (and columnist Kevin Brockmeier in particular) for saying nice things about Stuck Rubber Baby in it’s August issue. The occasion is a roundup of graphic novels called "The List / Comic Books for People Who Love Literature But Not Superheroes."

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my latest books.
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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.
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Commentary in Close Quarters

Anyone who is familiar with the modest dimensioned of my congenitally cluttered "studio" workspace knows that it’s not, uh, ideal for staging a video interview.

But that didn’t deter the hardy set of students from Hostos Community College in the Bronx who comprise a media program called the Hostos Design Lab and who descended on North Adams recently to, among other things, do video interviews with local artists (like me) and other nearby craftspeople.

Their project was developed in cooperation with the Bureau for Open Culture, whose I Am Searching for Field Character exhibition is being hosted this summer at Mass MoCA.

The students were trying to conduct their interviews in the interviewees’ actual workspaces, which in my case meant figuring out how to fit their cameras, microphones, and related equipment — not to mention themselves — into a 10’x13′ room already well stocked with filing cabinets, flat files, a drafting table, cases of drawing supplies, and my computer station and the printer, scanner, external hard drives and other digital peripherals that are connected to it with multitudes of hopelessly intertwined cables.

They also had to cope with occasional visits from Lulu the Dalmatian, who dropped by periodically to scope out what was going on. It can be hard for an interview subject to maintain his train of thought when a furry being is burrowing around at calf level looking for attention and mayber a dog-treat.

The plucky students pressed ahead despite the challenges and as best I could tell we all had a congenial time. A student photographer named Elijah Richmond snapped pictures throughout, a few of which I’m including here.

Above: Krisely Franceschini sets up one of the camcorders.
Above left: Rosa Oliveras prepares to capture sound. Above right: Eduardo Mendez wields his light meter.
Above left: Shanyce Lora gears up to be interviewer. Above center: Amara Dioubate helps document the proceedings. Above right: Michael Paguay strategizes.
Above: While the student worker bees prepare for the interview, I expound to supervising professor Catherine Lewis about the prescience of a 1950s feminist icon. (Photos by Elijah Richmond)
The First of the Great Cat Cartoon Books

Above: My neighborhood friend Don helps me learn to ride my first bicycle.

Gonna Be In Northampton, MA, on Thursday, August 25?

So will I — at Modern Myths (34 Bridge Street) from 7-9 PM, when I’ll be discussing The Complete Wendel with participants in the store’s Book Club and others who’re interested in my work. Come by and join the party.

This Week in Politics

Finding someone in the national political sphere who appears to be capable, intelligent, articulate, principled and passionate about economic justice issues isn’t a common occurrence these days. So when Eddie and I learned that Elizabeth Warren, the powerhouse moving force behind the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was going to meet with Berkshire voters in Pittsfield this week about her possible run for the Massachusetts Senate seat currently held by Republican Scott Brown, we made a point of being there to help urge her to go for it!

Not only would Warren be great in the job in my estimation, but I would savor seeing the G.O.P. right-wingers who swore to prevent her confirmation as head of that agency at all costs (especially subcommittee chairman Patrick McHenry, who called her a liar during a Congressional hearing in May) being forced to look her in the eye every day that she crosses paths with them on the steps of the Capitol.

Above: A spacey, froggy thing I drew in the 1970s
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Playing Near Cliffs Can Be Fun…

…Except when it isn’t.

OK, so the Republicans were nice enough not to push the American economy into the abyss as long as Democrats agree that only those who are already struggling will find their basic needs further slashed while the GOP’s wealthy overlords won’t be required to pay a dollar in extra taxes.

Is everybody happy about that?

Will American voters remember which party is the party of unmitigated and shameless greed when they go to the polls in 2012? Will we remember which party has pulled out all the stops to destroy collective bargaining in state after state? Will we remember which party has made a project of keeping as many student and minority voters as possible from accessing the power of the ballot?

Who can know? Distractions are many and the American memory is frail.

Above: My older brother Allan and I were photographed by our dad as we conferred at my puppet stage in the basement of our Springville home.

Above: This one was for “Fat In The Blood,”

a 2002 Visionary Health Concepts pamphlet

Below: My roughest of rough sketches for the above

How I Learned About the Mysteries of Manhood

The foregoing is the entirety of what For Boys Only had to tell me about homosexuality when I was on the threshold of puberty.
(Excerpt ©1952 by Frank Howard Richardson)

In my earliest drawings, my characters tended to be heterosexual.
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On The Suspense Channel Tonight

Living in a state of unremitting alienation and anxiety over the behavior of those in power, as is the case today (see the cartoon above), takes me back to the Reagan years. Ah, nostalgia!

Of course, Obama is no Ronald Reagan. But somehow I thought that would be more of a counterweight to Republican extremism than it’s turning out to be. (We’ve still gotta re-elect him, though.)

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.

Posted in Pure Toontime, Soapbox Break | Comments Off on On The Suspense Channel Tonight

It’s Not a Joke, Just a Drawing

An Uncharacteristic Reticence Descends

You may notice me being less chatty in my blog posts for a while. Don’t feel abandoned. I’m working on a germinal writing project, and at times like that my brain gets so preoccupied that I don’t have much verbal energy left over for composing blog copy.

I’ll do my best to post enough drawings and photos to keep things interesting. So don’t be a stranger, as we say down South.

Think You’re a Subscriber?
Not necessarily.

To my frustration, the addresses of all those who have signed up over the years to receive WordPress’s automated email notifications whenever I post new blog entries seem to have vanished into the cyber-mists during my blog’s recent transfer to a new server (as described in my blog’s previous entry). I know this to be the case because my husband Eddie was one of their number, and he didn’t hear a peep from WordPress when I last uploaded a post on June 27.

Since I’ve never known exactly who of you have been partaking of that service, I’ve had no way to contact you to let you know that you’ve been unceremoniously dumped from that notification list — assuming that some of you reading this are dumpees who have decided to visit this blog without getting email prompting you to do so.

That automated service is not to be confused with my own Loose Cruse Blog Alerts, which I continue to diligently send out personally to all who ask me to. If you would like to be added to that list, all you have to do is email me and say so.

On the other hand, if purely automated communications appeal to you, you can re-join (or join for the first time) my WordPress-generated subscriber list by clicking on the "Subscribe to Posts" link in the black bar right under "Loose Cruse: The Blog" at the top of this blog entry.

Newly Immortalized, By George!

I’ve drawn myself hundreds of times in my comics, but it’s pretty rare that I get drawn by other artists.

So it was fun seeing how Long Time Gone co-creator George Cochrane chose to depict me (see above) on the back cover of his bound assemblage of comics by the students in his "Art of the Graphic Novel" course at Fairleigh Dickenson University.

George’s students were among the many interesting young folks I got to interact with during my week as a visiting artist at FDU last March.

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my latest books.
…and click here to visit my
Cruse Goodies merchandise shop

Posted in Life & Art, Me, Me, Me!, Pure Toontime | 3 Comments