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Comics and the U.S. South$
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Brannon Costello and Qiana J. Whitted

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030185

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030185.001.0001

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Everybody’s Graphic Protest Novel

Everybody’s Graphic Protest Novel

Stuck Rubber Baby and the Anxieties of Racial Difference

(p.161) Everybody’s Graphic Protest Novel
Comics and the U.S. South

Gary Richards

University Press of Mississippi

Stuck Rubber Baby is a 1995 graphic novel by Howard Cruse that broke new ground, particularly with the way it combined genre and content. In his book, Cruse, a gay cartoonist, explores a set of tensions surrounding the racial and sexual politics of the Deep South in the 1960s. This chapter examines the manner in which race and sexual identity intersect in Stuck Rubber Baby by framing the book through the conventions of the white-authored “coming-out novel” and the “white southern racial conversion narrative.” It discusses not only the coming-out novel’s general silence about racial bias and privilege, but also the racial conversion narrative’s general silence about sexuality and homosexuality. Finally, the chapter considers how Cruse’s graphic protest novel, within its specific context of the Freedom Summer of 1964, cedes only limited freedom to African Americans.

Keywords:   graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, Howard Cruse, Deep South, race, sexual identity, coming-out novel, racial conversion narrative, homosexuality, African Americans

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