Talk:Howard Cruse

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The subject of this article edits Bhamwiki as User:Howard Cruse. --Dystopos 16:36, 18 July 2008 (PDT)


I was recently made aware of Bhamwiki's entry about me. I am hugely complimented to be recognized in this way and am impressed by the many strands of my complicated life that have been uncovered by the article's writer.

There are a few errors (most of them of little importance and most of them involving the order in which events occurred) that I will mention while I am here, along with a couple of additions that seem appropriate.

(1) Paragraph 1 opens with the phrase "Born in 1944 to a Baptist preacher..." This is true to a point and I often cite the formative effects of growing up as a "preacher's kid," but it leaves a misleading impression of my dad's professional life, since he was a photojournalist when I was born, and only became a Baptist minister after spending a year as a Methodist minister, having been called to the ministry well into adult life and having received his ordination after studying theology at Emory. Our family's move from Birmingham to Springville was occasioned by his assignation as minister to the Springville Methodist Church, his first and only full-time pastoral job and one that turned out to be a brief one due to church politics that I, as one who was five years old when they arose, wouldn't claim to understand fully. Although our family remained good friends with many members of the Methodist congregation my dad led, by the time I was seven we had become Baptists. Dad was soon thereafter ordained as a Baptist lay minister and he continued in the years that followed to preside at funerals and weddings and preach at various Baptists churches in a fill-in capacity. Income was provided by a series of secular jobs, usually involving his skills as a writer and journalist.

I leave it to Bhamwiki's editors to decide if the thought behind "Born in 1944 to a Baptist preacher" can be rescued in light of the foregoing. I wouldn't suggest that you bother were it not for the fact that your site may be used from time to time as a historical reference.

(2) I believe your reference to "Utopia School Camp" should be changed to simply "Camp Utopia," with "a combination camp and summer school" added if you feel it's important to reference the camp's educational aspirations.

(3) Many of the events alluded to in the paragraphs describing my thrice-interrupted college career and the events that followed (which include two separate relocations to New York City, one in 1969 and the final one in 1977), are correct but scrambled a bit chronologically. For example, the sentence that reads "He also met 'the first love of his life' Don Higdon, while at college" isn't quite true, since although Don was in college when he and I met, I had already graduated and spent a year in New York City (after a single, ill-fated term spent as an MFA candidate at Penn State University). Also, a few more of my Birmingham-based ventures would seem to merit inclusion, like my daily cartoon panel "Tops & Button," which ran in the Birmingham Post-Herald for two years.

Rather than force you to unscramble these chronological glitches one by one, I offer the following reconstructed narrative for your consideration, complete with a few additions and clarifications. I do so in full awareness of your warning about being "edited mercilessly." _________________________

[Picking up after "His week-long visit to New York City highlighted by lunch at Sardi's with Caniff (and a two day stay at the Sloane House YMCA) made the Post-Herald....]

He went on to Birmingham-Southern College, where he was a restless student who interrupted his undergraduate career three times, the longest of them involving his full-time employment at WAPI 13 in 1964-65, where he assisted the station’s art director Cliff Holman, Sr. (father of the longtime Birmingham tv personality “Cousin Cliff.” In each case he was ultimately drawn back to BSC because of his enthusiasm for the College Theatre program created by playwright/director Arnold Powell. The transformation of that program in 1966 from an extra-curricular activity to a full Department of Drama and Speech offering a major provided the crucial incentive for Cruse to finally stay in school and earn his diploma.

Among the plays in which Cruse acted during his years at Birmingham-Southern Cruse were "The Visit", "One Way Pendulum", "The Imaginary Invalid", and Samuel Beckett's "Endgame". He also designed sets for “Ernest In Love”, “Women of Trachis”, “Blood Wedding”, and “Endgame”, and his own full-length play “The Sixth Story” was given a workshop production, which Cruse himself directed, during his senior year as part of Dr. Powell’s Advanced Playwrights Lab. He also drew a cartoon series called “Cruse Nest” for the college’s student newspaper and was a contributor to the 'zine "Granny Takes a Trip,” which was founded by fellow student Julie Brumlik. His four-page comic strip satirizing the John Birch society earned the disdain of the faculty advisor to the Quad literary magazine. It ran, but with a full-page disclaimer.

Cruse’s interests extended beyond drama and cartooning into television, dating from his 1963 summer term at Birmingham-Southern when Cruse co-created (with Leeds resident Grady Clarkson) a children's show for the start-up ETV public educational tv network. “The Grady and Howard Show” led to an ongoing relationship with WBIQ that led to two Christmas specials for which Cruse provided drawings and that culminated with the station’s broadcast in 1972 of his one-act play “Three Clowns on a Journey,” produced by station manager [correct title?] Evelyn Walker with Cruse directing.

After a year spent in New York City following his 1968 graduation from BSC, Cruse returned to Birmingham and became the puppeteer on the Sergeant Jack Show on WBMG 42 as well as the station’s art director. It was during that period that he met "the first love of his life" Don Higdon, who was a sophomore drama student at Birmingham-Southern at the time of Cruse’s return to the city. During his down time Cruse created a cartoon panel about two squirrels, “Tops & Button,” which ran daily in The Birmingham Post-Herald from 1970-72. During the same period his mainstay comic strip, "Barefootz" got its first serial run in the University of Alabama's Crimson White. “Barefootz” survived the 1970s in a variety of Birmingham-area publications and eventually in a series of underground comic books. It was reincarnated many years later as a web comic.

In 1972 Cruse left WBMG and moved with Higdon to Atlanta, where the two of them worked as actors and set-design assistants at the Atlanta Children’s theatre. When his relationship with Higdon ended, Cruse returned to Birmingham and soon found work as a paste-up artist at Birmingham’s Luckie & Forney Advertising Agency.

In 1977 Cruse decided to return to New York City and make a fresh try at forging a full-time cartooning career. After some false starts and eight months spent art directing Starlog magazine, Cruse was finally able to leave day jobs behind and make cartooning his full-time profession.

[Picking up with existing your text: "In New York he also met his current partner Eddie Sedarbaum..."]

(4) Finally, to update your final paragraph to reflect that the projected Dutch translation of SRB evaporated, the Spanish SRB is a done deal by now, and Wendel has also been published in Spanish by now, I suggest the following re-wording: ________________

So far it has been translated into German, French, Italian, and Spanish, and Spanish-language editions of the entire “Wendel” series have been published as well. ________________

Thanks again for being interested in my doings. — Howard (User:Howard Cruse, 11:07, 19 July 2008)