The comics in this book were created over a span of 33 years. The book’s title refers to the central characters respectively in the earliest story in the collection (Headrack in “Gravy on Gay,” which was published in 1976 in Barefootz Funnies #2) and the most recent (Claude in Cruse’s one-page reminiscence “Then There Was Claude,” from The Book of Boy Trouble Volume 2, published in 2008).

Many items found in the book’s 100 pages have been largely inaccessible for more than a decade-and-a-half, if not longer. These include 76 pages of comics that first saw print between 1980 and 1984 in the Gay Comix underground comic book series and were then reprinted in Cruse’s long-out-of-print 1987 collection Dancin’ Nekkid with the Angels, which was simultaneously published as a trade paperback by St. Martin’s Press and as a limited-edition hardcover by Kitchen Sink Press. Because of explicit sexual content in some stories that were originally drawn for underground comix, the book is recommended for mature readers only.

The topical strips in this collection originally appeared during the 1980s and ’90s in periodicals such as The Village Voice and Artforum International. Three of these political pieces (“1986: An Interim Epilogue”; “Homoeroticism Blues”; and “His Closet”) have never before been reprinted in book form. “The Woeful World of Winnie and Walt” has been seen only in the 1988 AIDS-benefit anthology Strip AIDS USA. The four-page strip about homosexual behavior in animals, “A Zoo of Our Own,” is adapted from a single-tabloid-page version commissioned and accepted for the Village Voice’s 1990 Gay Pride edition but bumped by a last-minute editorial decision. It has appeared on Cruse’s web site but has never appeared in book form.

Two of the book’s elements have international root. “1986: An Interim Epilogue,” the two-page addendum to “Safe Sex,” Cruse’s 1973 six-pager about AIDS anxiety in New York during the epidemic’s early days, was commissioned by an Australian magazine; “Penceworth” was Cruse’s contribution to a 1988 British benefit comic AARGH! / Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia). Neither of these has appeared in any American publication until now.

The two most recent stories in From Headrack to Claude, “My Hypnotist” and “Then There Was Claude,” were included respectively in Young Bottoms in Love (2007, Poison Press) and the aforementioned Book of Boy Trouble Volume 2 (2008, Green Candy Press).

Cruse is self-publishing From Headrack to Claude through on a print-on-demand basis, with copies purchasable online from the “Lulu Marketplace” and other online retailers. (Like most P.O.D. projects, it is unlikely to be found at bricks-&-mortar bookstores.) The book is priced at $19 and its ISBN number is 978-0-578-03251-1.

For additional details contact the author.

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