Stuck Rubber Baby is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Howard Cruse, first published in 1995. Set mostly in the 1960s in the Southern United States, in the midst of the Black Civil Rights movement, it deals with homosexuality and racism.
The book was originally intended for publication through Piranha Press, an imprint of DC Comics which published "alternative" comics. Cruse spent nearly five years writing and illustrating it; however, during that time the imprint was discontinued. It was instead published in hardcover as part of DC's Paradox Press line, an imprint aimed at the bookstore market, featuring mostly mysteries, crime fiction, and humorous non-fiction. It was reprinted in paperback in 1996 by HarperCollins.
The central character of Stuck Rubber Baby is Toland Polk, a young white working class man who gradually comes to grips with his homosexuality while struggling with his own learned racism and that of his community. Although Cruse drew heavily upon his own experiences as a gay man growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, the story is fictional. It is densely illustrated, using a detailed cross-hatching technique and typically 8-12 panels per page. The story is 210 pages long.
Awards and recognition
Stuck Rubber Baby was nominated for the American Library Association's Lesbian and Gay Book Award, and for the Lambda Literary Award. It was named "Best Graphic Novel" by the United Kingdom Comic Art Awards and has won the 2002 French Prix de la critique.
- The Comics Journal #182, pp. 93-118, Fantagraphics, November 1995. A critical overview of Stuck Rubber Baby, with an interview of Howard Cruse.