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Stuck Rubber Baby

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  5,012 ratings  ·  261 reviews
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by DC Comics (first published 1995)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  5,012 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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Mar 13, 2012 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
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
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was blown away by this book. The art is amazing - the crosshatching and period detail are so immersive and this is a style you really don't see today. Realizing he drew all this with a pen blew my mind. And the story was even more powerful - a look at homophobia (internalized and systematic) in the civil rights era deep south in a fictionalized Birmingham, Alabama was amazing. Juxtaposing the personal with the political, homophobia with racism, the well meaning white closeted protagonist with ...more
Nov 28, 2014 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.
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer, 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
A classic graphic novel ahead of its time.
Originally published in 1995, in this GN, Cruse draws heavily on his early years in the south. He depicts the coming-of-age, journey, coming-out process of a fictional gay white guy in the era of segregation, civil rights marches, and illegal homosexuality. And he shows how intertwined the queer community and the black community became at the time. It's a fantastic example of how being a cultural Other can bring people together. As this guy gets more in
Rochelle Hartman
Jun 06, 2011 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. ...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
This book has only deepened and gotten better with time. It's a masterpiece. Hi Howard, I miss you! Thank you for everything. xo ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It couldn’t be a more appropriate time for this one.. Cruse takes the reader back to the 1960s, the era of unrest and activism regarding the Vietnam War and civil rights for Blacks. He skillfully weaves these issues into the main character’s narrative of coming of age and coming out as a gay man. Perhaps due the choice to cover all of these areas with genuine detail, the book runs quite long for a graphic novel. At times I feel it moves too slowly, and the power of the critical topics tends to g ...more
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
Mar 21, 2009 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
Steven Brown
Jul 24, 2012 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
Jul 28, 2010 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
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A deeply emotional telling of a man discovering his true self over a backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s Alabama. Starts off slow, but eventually builds a diverse and fascinating cast of characters while remaining intensely personal to the main character. For its length, Stuck Rubber Baby is a dense evaluation of one man's struggle to find his place in a world that doesn't seem to want him, highlighted by a thoroughly realized artistic style. The ending is particularly moving. ...more
Jul 26, 2008 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. ...more
Liz Yerby
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Freaking incredible and kind of devastating. Queer comics is such a vague term but this book shows how sexuality is only a small part of a persons experiences.

Some people seem overwhelmed by the amount of content and heavy issues but it seems so much more real than one note comics memoirs I've read.
Garrison Kelly
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Closeted gay man Toland Polk is caught in the crossfire of the civil rights era in America’s bible belt. Minorities are being killed, buildings are being bombed, the police use excessive force, and the politicians are content to just let it all happen. Being himself is something Toland struggles with throughout this graphic novel, considering the violent consequences of his sexual preference. When he starts making friends with the black and gay communities, he eventually has to let his guard dow ...more
Nov 10, 2012 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 25, 2009 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
Nathan Kibler
Oct 16, 2010 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
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
Though Alison Bechdel's stunning Fun Home is the clear kissing cousin to this book (both are tragic gay coming-of-age comics rooted in their sense of history), I actually kept thinking about this book in relation to Asterios Polyp. Both Baby and Polyp are comics about self-involved, unlikable characters wandering aimlessly through life while recalling their troubled pasts. But where Asterios Polyp was flashy, brainy, mannered, and detached (all good things, mind you), Stuck Rubber Baby is all he ...more
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This must be the second Graphic novel I read which was actually a story rather than collection of issues of superheroes or other story line. It is a complete story in itself. This is the story of a Gay man growing up in a fictional southern town and trying to hide the fact that he is gay. This the story detailing many scenes as he tells his own story how he grew up to accept who he was.

I did like the graphic novel and hopefully you would like it too.

I have always loved comics, and I hope that I
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 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
Dave Riley
Nov 20, 2013 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
Nov 29, 2008 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
Melanee Barash
Graphic Novels are not a genre that I'm drawn to, but this book was recommended and I wanted to see why. The story was a powerful exploration/representation of racism and homophobia. The artwork created a visual aspect that heightened the impact of the story. I can't honestly say that I liked this book, but I am very glad I read it. ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a powerful read. I can count the number of graphic novels I've read on one hand, but Stuck Rubber Baby was something special. I started it too late and had to rush the end as it was due back in the library, but I may just borrow it again so I can take the time to appreciate it a bit more. ...more
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: university
2,5 stars
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BOOK ONE: Chapters 11 & 12 1 2 Aug 31, 2019 05:47PM  

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Howard Cruse was an American alternative cartoonist known for the exploration of gay themes in his comics.

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