Title: Stuck Rubber Baby (Graphic novel)
Author: Howard Cruse
Originally published: 1995
Genre: Graphic Novel
The dice landed on: 6
Did I finish?: Yes, oh yes.
Do I like the cover?: Yes I do.
One-sentence summary: Toland Polk is a young man who grows up in the south in the sixties and becomes a part of the civil rights movement while also struggling with being gay.
Stuck Rubber Baby was originally published in 1995, so I’m sorry I didn’t read it before.
The story of Toland Polk is told by himself as a middle-aged, happy gay man. He looks back to his years as a child and young man in the deep south. Toland spends a lot of time in denial of being gay. At the same time he also gets involved with the budding Civil Rights Movement. The story shows both the likeness and the difference between the civil rights movement and the gay movemen. They are both struggles for equal rights, but most black people are visibly black to any casual observer while most gay peole can pass for straight most of the time. So Toland hides his gay feelings, and considers it the right thing to do, while at the same time thinking it’s wrong for society to treat black people the way it does. The story shows both black struggle and gay struggle really well. The characters are all interesting, coming through as real, complicated people with both good, bad sides and potential for change.
In many ways it’s a sad story, but it also has it’s lighter moments. As the narrator is an older, wiser and happier Toland Polk you also know that things will turn out well for him at least.
I think a graphic novel is a good format for a story like this, especially when the drawings are as well done as in this book. There are intimate close ups and big scenes with lots of people, and it’s all wonderfully done. In many ways there’s more information packed into every page than there is in a regular book.
So, if you want to read a very good story about the Civil Rights movement in United States and also a good story of what it’s like coming to terms with being gay in a society that definitely don’t want you around, then this is a good read for you.