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May 10th, 2023

Wish You Were Still With Us Howard…

I got a reminder about the memorial for cartoonist Howard Cruse happening later this month and went ahead and made preparations to go. The first time I heard of this happening I was pretty sure I would be in California by now, but the scheduling of the colonoscopy made me put that off and I realized I could do it after all. It’s not so close to my Disney World/Gay Days trip that I couldn’t get there and back in time, and Massachusetts is a state I’ve never visited. Also the drive takes me up the Hudson River Valley in New York and that’s one I’ve always wanted to do because my favorite American landscape artists (of the Hudson River School) lived and worked there. Maybe I’ll take a slight detour and visit Frederic Church’s house. His paintings are amazing.

I’m retired now, and I can go wherever I want, whenever I want (providing the retirement money is there). And Howard gave me lots of encouragement with my cartoons, and A Coming Out Story. There’s a little nod to him at the end of “Intermission 2” that I pinged him about after I put it up…

…and he replied with thanks and more encouragement to continue on with it. A few days later he was gone. I had no idea he was in the hospital.

I have some of his original artwork, including page one of his magnum opus, Stuck Rubber Baby, about growing up gay in the deep south during “Kennedy Time”. I even commissioned a drawing from him around the time of National Coming Out Day. It is a magnificent piece about the moment a teenage boy comes out to his parents. Howard’s lines are as fluid and meticulously perfect as anything Al Hirschfeld did. He even put a couple easter eggs in it that speak to my interests and work at Space Telescope.

I miss him lots, so do his many fans and fellow cartoonists. So I should be there. His original memorial got put off because of COVID, so this is actually happening years after the fact.

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