Two gay graphic novels

Not that these are the only two, but I have them both in my library and they make a startling contrast:

Howard Cruse’s 1995 novel Stuck Rubber Baby


And Peter Milligan & Duncan Fregredo’s 1995 compilation volume Enigma of their superhero comic book series


(text by Milligan, drawings by Fegredo, coloring by van Valkenburgh)

Cruse. On the novel, from Wikipedia:

Stuck Rubber Baby is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Howard Cruse, first published in 1995. Cruse’s first graphic novel after a decades-long career as an underground cartoonist, the book deals with homosexuality and racism in the 1960s in the Southern United States in the midst of the Civil Rights movement.

And on Cruse himself:

Howard Cruse (born May 2, 1944) is an American alternative cartoonist known for the exploration of gay themes in his comics.

… Cruse had been open about his homosexuality throughout the 1970s, but never acknowledged it in his work. This changed in 1979, when he began editing Gay Comix, a new anthology featuring comix by openly gay and lesbian cartoonists. For much of the 1980s, he created Wendel, a strip (1–2 pages per episode) about an irrepressible and idealistic gay man, his lover Ollie, and a cast of diverse urban characters. It was published in the gay newsmagazine The Advocate, which allowed Cruse substantial freedom in terms of language and nudity, and to address content such as AIDS, gay rights demonstrations, gay-bashing, closeted celebrities, and same-gender relationships, with a combination of humor and anger.

From my library, from 1985:


We’ve looked at Gay Comix here on 8/5/12 in “Vintage Gay Comics” (with sample covers), with the note:

Gay Comix (also spelled Gay Comics) was an underground comics series published from 1980–1998. Created by Howard Cruse, Gay Comix featured the work of gay, lesbian, and transsexual artists.

The series was continued by Robert Triptow, who edited the 1989 compilation Gay Comics: The Smartest and Wittiest Gay and Lesbian Cartoonists, with a broad coverage of relatively conventional single-panel and strip cartoons focused on humor or story-telling (leaving out material that is mostly visual and material that’s significantly lubricious.)

Milligan & Fegredo. A different kettle of fish, though still a narrative of sorts. From Wikipedia:

Enigma is an American comic book series written by Peter Milligan, with artwork by Duncan Fegredo, featuring a superhero named “The Enigma”. It was published as an eight-issue limited series by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, in 1993. [and as a single paperback volume in 1995].

The story focuses on Michael Smith, a compulsive, late-20s, heterosexual [apparently, but he later turns out to be gay] telephone repairman living a highly structured life in Pacific City, California. His father was killed in an earthquake, and he was abandoned by his mother around age nine. Smith meets Titus Bird, a writer of the superhero comic book series The Enigma [and an openly gay man]. The Enigma himself is a man [a fictional character come to life] born with seemingly omnipotent powers who adopts the identity of a comic book superhero [and becomes Michael’s lover]. He is an essentially emotionless being and unfamiliar with the concepts of right and wrong.

And then there are the lizards …


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