In the 1960s American South, a young gas-station attendant named Toland Polk is rejected from the Army draft for admitting “homosexual tendencies,” and falls in with a close-knit group of young locals yearning to break from the conformity of their hometown through civil rights activism, folk music and upstart communality of race-mixing, gay-friendly nightclubs. Toland’s story is both deeply personal and epic in scope, as his search for identity plays out against the brutal fight over segregation, an unplanned pregnancy and small-town bigotry, aided by an unforgettable supporting cast.
Howard Cruse first began gaining prominence as an underground comic book artist during the 1970s. In 1980 he assumed the editorship of the groundbreaking GAY COMIX series, then in 1983 went on to launch his WENDEL comic strip, which quickly became a popular regular feature in THE ADVOCATE. The first book compilation of his comic strips, WENDEL, appeared in 1986. It was followed by DANCIN’ NEKKID WITH THE ANGELS (1987); WENDEL ON THE REBOUND (1988); EARLY BAREFOOTZ (1990); WENDEL ALL TOGETHER (2000), which was subsequently repackaged as THE COMPLETE WENDEL (2011); FROM HEADRACK TO CLAUDE (2009); and THE OTHER SIDES OF HOWARD CRUSE (2012). Cruse’s best-known work is the award-winning graphic novel STUCK RUBBER BABY (1995), which has been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Polish. Cruse also collaborated with Jeanne E. Shaffer to produce an illustrated adaptation of Ms. Shaffer’s fable, THE SWIMMER WITH A ROPE IN HIS TEETH (2004), and followed it with his satirical picture book FELIX’S FRIENDS: A STORY FOR GROWN-UPS AND UNPLEASANT CHILDREN (2008). His comix have been included in numerous anthologies over the years, including JUICY MOTHER, BOY TROUBLE, THE BEST OF COMIX BOOK and QU33R.
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