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Stuck Rubber Baby

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,549 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
Art and story combine powerfully in this lyrical tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the entrenched homophobia of small-town America. Toland Polk, the son of an uneducated white carpenter, has grown up in the Southern town of Clayfield. It is the 1960s, a time of passionate beliefs and violent emotions, and Clayfield's citizens are ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by DC Comics (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 13, 2012 Melki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novel
Howard Cruse's graphic novel about one man's experiences during the 1960's civil rights movement is brimming with details. BUT...that's not ALWAYS a good thing...

Toland Polk tells of his involvement in the struggles for equality during those troubled times in American history. He also relates the l-o-n-g, s-l-o-w discovery of his true sexual identity. I don't know if EVERY single conversation he EVER held with EVERYBODY is depicted, but it sure seems that way. There are too many characters and t
May 19, 2015 MLE marked it as dnf
I wanted to like this one, but I found the art style to be too visually cluttered, and something about it was just off putting. The story line seemed to be trying too hard to fit too much in, and I quickly found myself lost. It seemed like a fascinating look at that time period, but it was just too hard for me to get into.
May 21, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is one that sat on my shelves for many years. I knew it was acclaimed, but Cruse's Wendel had never appealed to me and even now as I write a 5-star review for Stuck Rubber Baby, I can't say that his art in this book is particularly appealing to me, either. There's so much cross-hatching that even quiet panels often look too dark and unnecessarily busy (a panel showing two men in a shower made me wonder what sort of skin condition - or fur - was being shown), and everyone looks like a kind o ...more
I tend to be wary of memoirs about the White Middle Class American Male Experience (gay or otherwise), especially those set against the backdrop of a powerful political moment (in this case, the Civil Rights Movement). The magnitude of these events (and the people who made them happen) is diminished, to say the least, with the emphasis instead placed on how All This Has Changed Our Precious Boy. Now, while Stuck Rubber Baby isn't without its problems, I appreciate that Howard Cruse makes his whi ...more
The story of a gay white man growing up in the South in the 1960s. He gets involved in the civil rights struggle and comes out to himself, and later others, as gay. It's interesting territory, but I hated the art. It looks outright ugly to me, the characters are nearly impossible to distinguish from each other, and the framing is so cramped that it's nearly impossible to read, there's no white space, and there's so much cross-hatching...I felt my eyes start to hurt trying to read this. I don't f ...more
Rochelle Hartman
Jun 15, 2016 Rochelle Hartman rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read all year. Not best graphic novel--but the best book. Amazing story that takes place in a fictional southern town in the early 60s that melds civil rights with a young white man's personal awareness of his sexual identity. It's an unbelievably brilliant and moving story (and fictional, according to Cruse), painstakingly and beautifully illustrated. I enjoyed it so much that I will probably buy it and read it again.
Simply one of the best books I have read in a long time -- an example of how amazing graphic novels CAN be when they try. This is the story of Toland, a young white man coming of age in the deep South at the dawning of the civil rights movement -- and trying to come to terms with his homosexuality. All of the characters are vivid, complex and fully realized -- even the minor characters. I especially enjoyed Cruse's portrayal of Ginger -- Toland's girlfriend who is a folk singer and headstrong, s ...more
Oct 04, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I'm re-reading this since I'm teaching it. It's fun to teach a graphic novel since the students are so attuned to images. This book is very rich with a lot of subplots. It takes place during the Civil Rights Movement in the South and has a mix of characters, black and white, straight and gay. It explores the overlaps between race and sexuality.
Feb 05, 2012 Rhockman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: A casi todo el mundo
Recommended to Rhockman by: Goodreads
Es como que te metan una cuchara en el pecho, revuelvan un poco y después te la saquen.
Nathan Kibler
Oct 16, 2010 Nathan Kibler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
I've always liked Howard Cruse's work, ever since I first encountered it when I came out. His struggles to express his own truth touches on such universal truths that I can't help feeling I know him intimately, although I mostly know him through his comics. Someday I hope to meet him in person.

"Stuck Rubber Baby" (SRB) is a tour de force, mixing tales of the human rights struggles of the sixties with the Jazz music scene of the south, this is an amazing work of fiction. I almost would give it fi
Jan 21, 2013 Jordan rated it it was amazing
Over Thanksgiving, my family asked me what I was reading. At the time, I was reading a smattering of things, but I told them I was most excited about a graphic novel entitled Stuck Rubber Baby. Upon hearing "graphic novel" they immediately responded with, "Oh, you're just reading comic books? No serious books right now?" I hate this stigma, especially since Stuck Rubber Baby is so poignant and powerful, and its illustrations only work to enhance the impact of an already moving story about race a ...more
Mar 30, 2009 Ethan rated it it was amazing
I loved this. I read the compilation of Cruse's Wendel comic strips, which was also wonderful, but this was simply amazing. At first I was a little worried that the characters seemed like stock, generic Civil Rights-era Southern figures, but as the story progresses Cruse fleshes them out and makes them unique. The story is nuanced and multi-layered, dealing with the protagonist's struggles with sexuality and the broader struggles around black civil rights, as well as the complicated relationship ...more
Jun 02, 2009 Tara rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, 2009
a terrific and moving account of a young gay man growing up in the south during the civil rights movement. it felt timely to be reading this right now--tony kushner makes the point powerfully in the intro, so i'm going to quote a long passage:

It articulates a crying need for solidarity, it performs the crucial function of remembering, for the queer community, how essential to the birth of our politics of liberation the civil rights movement was. The point, it seems to me, is not that one movemen
Dave Riley
Nov 25, 2013 Dave Riley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
As storytelling goes with ink and paper Stuck Rubber Baby has to be one of the best graphic novels put together . The synthesis of a 'memoir' with the issues of homosexuallity and Jim Crowe racism fosters a challenging intimate synchronicity that reminds us how far we have come by dint of those who have strived to make that journey at close quarters.

At its core, Stuck Rubber baby is about struggle -- not only against the institutions and mores that oppress us, but also against ourselves every ti
sweet pea
i kept hearing about this book as one of the inspirations for Alison Bechdel to write Fun Home, so i had to get me a copy. not easy. basically out of print.

the illustrations don't instantly appeal to me. although you become used to them as time progresses. the story reminds me of Memoir of a Race Traitor by Mab Segrest, despite the difference in time, place, and actual events. the plot weaves between the main character's long process of coming out, his (and his friends') involvement in the Civi
Aug 09, 2010 Vanessa rated it it was ok
I had read great things about Stuck Rubber Baby and obviously I wasn't disappointed. The story and characters are nuanced and I enjoyed the author's complex weaving of social injustices and inequities. White privilege and heteronormativity are closely examined as the main character comes to terms with his sexual identity and his complacently in the violences committed against Blacks in the south. Alison Bechdel's intriguing introduction explains the significance of the individual in the role of ...more
Steven Brown
Feb 05, 2013 Steven Brown rated it really liked it
Friends and I differ at times on the value of the graphic novel. I'm an unlikely defender, having completely ignored comic books as a young adult, but I find myself drawn to some of them, primarily those dealing with serious historical topics.

Recently I heard a radio interview with "Amir", one of the Iranian disidents who create the website and graphic novel, "Zahra's Paradise." He made the point that the graphic novel lets the artist/author approximate what could be done as a film, without the
Feb 24, 2010 M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: comix, 2010
I guess this is the canonical equivalent to Maus in the realm of queer comix, but I'm surprisingly okay with that. I have a personal bias towards Cruse's art, as I'm never sexually turned on by it and generally that is what I want a gay comic to do (turn me on), but in this instance my desire for lust is surpassed by a pretty strong, engaging narrative.

Although I can't lie and say that these sort of coming out stories (especially when places within the equally frustrating context of race-riots)
Nov 29, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
This book has everything! It takes place mostly in the 60s during the Civil Rights movement, and the main character/narrator is also realizing he's gay, so it's got all the glorious ambiguity and unanswerable doubts of those two themes, race and sexuality. It's basically a meditation on what it means to embrace humanity in all of its forms. The end's a little abrupt and unclear, and the drawings need more breathing room, but it's absolutely engaging and rewarding. For someone new to the form, I ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Trey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Look, I can't do justice to this book in a brief write-up; all I can do is recommend that you read it. It's a moving story, the art is detailed and historically accurate, and it's obvious how much work Howard Cruse put into it. A lot of times I don't take long enough to read through graphic novels, but I made sure to read this over several days; I didn't want to be done with it, and I wanted to take time to really look at the art and reflect on the words. Read Alison Bechdel's introduction/love ...more
The art style was not to my taste, at times it was hard to tell the difference between a few male characters.

I am happy that there exists a book on the topic matter.

The pacing was a little slow, but in a way it gave it an annoying sense of realism in that it felt like a new aquaintance telling you their 'life story'.
Mar 12, 2016 Mireille rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of those graphic novels that's more liked by people who do comics than people who read them or only read them occasionally.

In brief it's a coming-of-age/coming-out story of a young white man set in the 1950-60s American South and it's narrated by his older self. So the setting is such that you feel safe that no matter how bad things might get for the protagonist, there will be a happy ending (of sorts).

This is a heavy book. A very dense book. Core group of characters takes a
May 05, 2014 Fizzgig76 rated it really liked it
Toland Polk is living in an exciting and dangerous time. Born in the south, Toland find himself at the forefront of the civil rights movement but is also facing his own challenges. Toland is dealing with his repressed homosexually which is fighting its way to the surface as Toland fights to secure equal rights for his friends.

Written and illustrated by Howard Cruse, Stuck Rubber Baby was a black-and-white graphic novel that was published through one of DC Comics smaller press releases called Par
Jun 29, 2014 Courtney rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Stuck Rubber Baby for multiple reasons. The visual style is very rich and detailed, which compliments the story's complexity. In many ways, Toland's narrative arc reminded me of Perks of Being a Wallflower - Toland and Charlie are both torn between passive spectatorship and active engagement with the world around them. They're also perpetually in awe of what their friends are capable of but don't demonstrate much confidence in their own abilities. Stuck Rubber Baby is more about ...more
Jason Bergman
I decided to re-read this on its 20th anniversary...and you know what? It's still amazing. One of the best graphic novels ever written. Its messages are clear, but not preachy. The characters feel real and flawed and human.

Can't recommend this highly enough.
Sean Kottke
Jul 05, 2014 Sean Kottke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2014
Like Maus, Stuck Rubber Baby deals with the intersection of the personal and the historical, in this case, a young man coming of age in the South during the Civil Rights era while coming to understand his own gay identity. It belongs in two canons, really: coming of age stories and graphic novels, as it's a masterwork of both. The visual style is straight out of 70s/80s underground comix, and the narration is reminiscent of Harvey Pekar. Most of the pages have a tightly traditional, moderately d ...more
Oct 16, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It took me a while to get used to the style of this graphic novel, but once I did it captured me into the story. I'm actually using it for a paper for one of my classes and couldn't be more excited about it. Very well done!
Gordon McAlpin
Jul 09, 2011 Gordon McAlpin rated it it was amazing
Stuck Rubber Baby is simply one of the finest graphic novels there is. Cruse's linework make me so incredibly jealous, and he is a master storyteller. If there is a graphic novels canon, Stuck Rubber Baby deserves to be in it.
Ania Ostrowska
Jan 07, 2013 Ania Ostrowska rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Drawn beautifully, with painstaking attention to detail, a sad, tender, raw story of growing up and coming out against the backdrop of the 1960s Dixie Land, lit with KKK fires. A treat.
May 20, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, queer
This book provides a self-aware narration of a white man who is facing homophobia in the south during the civil rights era. I expected the typical veiled narcissism of many semi - autobiographical graphic novels; instead I received detail of other's struggles, an abundance of empathy, and scrutiny over the narrator's actions.
The incredible detail seen through cross - hatching and the careful structure of comic frames, dissociating at pivotal points contributed to telling the stories effectively
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