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Wendel All Together


A 270-page collection of strips, published by Olmstead Press, 2001.
ISBN: 1-58754-012-6.
order from
or from Amazon.

Category: aids, humor, slice-of-life.

Author(s): Howard Cruse.
Website: http://www.howardcruse.com.
Read an interview with Howard Cruse on the Gay League site.
Howard Cruse has allowed me to post a little-seen strip of his on my site.
Here's a review of his Swimmer book.

Wendel and Ollie's first evening together.

Back before he became known for a very serious work, Stuck Rubber Baby, Howard Cruse worked on this series of strips for The Advocate from 1983 to 1989 (with a one-year gap in 1985).

His cast of characters was a large one: Wendel Trupstock, a 20-something brimming with energy and optimism - although he's subject to occasional bouts of soul-searching over his skills as a hopeful writer, Ollie Chalmers, his lover, formerly married, father of a young kid and aspirant actor, Wendel's parents, former civil rights protesters who love seeing their son take up the torch for gay rights, Sterno, a friend of Ollie, a charming - too charming - chubby guy who seems to get enough sex for ten men... and many others, whose life Cruse will chronicle over 6 years.

What began as a fun and light take on gay life in a big city evolved over the years into a socially and politically aware run of stories which enabled Cruse to speak out on the same life-or-death questions real gay people had (and still have) to live with. The gay-unfriendly climate of the times played an important role in the series, as well as the reality of aids. But that didn't keep the characters from finding love and camaraderie in their lives. One of the most obvious success of the stories is the way Cruse balances all the realistic aspects of the characters' lives. These are people the reader quickly grows fond of, and Cruse's art plays no small part in that attachment.
It seems to me the most endearing characteristic of this drawing style is the perfect combination of cartoon and "realistic" art. The bodies are slightly rubbery, the faces have big, round eyes, and at the same time, these are human bodies, human faces in all their diversity. After all, the way Cruse draws bodies is far closer to reality than a lot of superheroes' artists.

But of course, Wendel is nowhere as realistic as Stuck Rubber Baby. In its themes as well as in the way the characters behave, and even in its structure. If Stuck Rubber Baby is Cruse's novel, Wendel is definitely his sitcom.

Visiting a sick friend.
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