A preacher's son raised in Alabama, Howard Cruse saw the comix scene as "an opportunity to experiment freely while exploring myself without inhibiting editorial constraints." Exploration led him through work in underground comix like 'Dope Comix', 'Bizarre Sex' and 'Gay Comix', of which he was the founder in 1980. From 1971 to 1979, Howard came up with 'Barefootz', a humorous comic with a clean animated line and a crisp, uncluttered background. The strip ran in several magazines, and in a couple of anthologies by Denis Kitchen.
Moving to New York in 1979, Cruse pursued a successful commercial and cartoon art career that included his award-winning gay and lesbian strip, 'Wendell'. His work was interrupted for four years while he created his masterpiece, 'Stuck Rubber Baby' (Paradox Press, 1995). This 210-page graphic novel takes place in the South during the civil rights movement in the 1960s and sensitively depicts a saga of coming to terms with sexual identity, racial prejudice and political conflict.
Nightmares of Little L*L*
A very productive comics artist, Howard Cruse created many other comic strips and stories, using various graphic styles and parodying other comics such as 'Little Lulu'. Cruse is a regular contributor to Jennifer Camper's ongoing queer comics anthology Juicy Mother, which first appeared in 2005 and then in 2007. In August 2009, Howard Cruse self-published 'From Headrack to Claude', a collection of all his gay-themed strips accompanied by commentaries on his career and life. Now, from his studio in Jackson Heights, New York Howard Cruse is very busy with freelance cartooning projects, web site design and computer graphics.