This graphic novel is a combination coming of age in the south and coming out story. Told as an extensive flashback, it traces the fight for integration in a fictional town in the South while it also explores the narrator’s sexual and political awakening. Cruse is a well known and respected illustrator and storyteller and the way he interweaves both threads of the narration make this a capitvating read.
The story is full of all kinds of intrique, both political and sexual. While it rarely ventures into super-graphic territory [it’s strictly a PG tale except for some language, and maybe a breast or two] it does manage to highlight an entire culture’s worth of stumbling points and conflicts both inside and outside of the movement. No one is perfect, and some people deal with this better than others. Some of the characters, most notably the most “out” white male in the story -- the starting role model for the narrator -- undergo rapid and not always understandable personality changes. the story, like many political fables, can be heavy-handed at times, but Cruses' knack for keeping the plot central to everything keeps it flowing smoothly. The sheer number of supporting characters that this novel has and their complex interrelationships help you understand why Stuck Rubber Baby was four years in the making.