Stuck Rubber Baby

stuck rubber baby trade paperback howard cruse 1995
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Interesting story from an interesting time period in America

Not for those who aren't into true life style stories

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Stuck Rubber Baby

Publisher:  Paradox Press/DC Comics/Vertigo

Writer:  Howard Cruse

Artist:  Howard Cruse

Release Date:  1995


Paradox Press Edition

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 Paradox Press.  The series has been reprinted a number of times under different publishers and received positive recognition from gay and lesbian groups and other critic groups.

Stuck Rubber Baby was one of those graphic novels that came in the second wave of graphic novels that helped change the perspective of the graphic novel.  With a tough subject and a writer who doesn’t hold back, Stuck Rubber Baby remains edgy to this day.


DC/Vertigo Edition

Howard Cruse allegedly based a lot of Toland on his life.  The ideas and the upbringing had a lot of parallels to his life in the ’60s and his upbringing in Springville, Alabama.  The comic echoes a lot of Harvey Pekar’s style and even has shades of Art Spiegelman’s Maus in its storytelling techniques.  The writing is quite dense and despite being a graphic novel, the story takes a long time read and unfold.  A lot of the events just are very episodic and the novel sometimes reads more like a collection that was published over years.

Cruse’s art is quite strong.  The pages are heavily inked and if you are going to read it, I recommend a good clean crisp copy to get the full feel of the pages.  Due to the black-and-white style and the ’60s characters, it is sometimes easy to confuse a few of the side characters.  If you don’t read it in a quick sitting and pick it up and put it down a lot, it can be pretty tricky to follow so I recommend reading it in a few uninterrupted sittings.

If you aren’t a fan of true life stories, Stuck Rubber Baby probably isn’t for you.  With stories dealing with civil rights, there are certain things you expect to happen and these things happen in the story just as you suspect they will…that also could be tough for readers seeking more originality in the tale.  The graphic novel is a worthwhile read and if you can do a more historic comic, I do recommend picking it up.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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