ABOVE: Howard Cruse (R) with future husband Ed Sedarbaum in younger years. Photo via Facebook.
Howard Cruse, a gay cartoonist whose groundbreaking underground comics were a strong influence on the succeeding generation of queer comic artists, has died.
Cruse first gained attention in the 1970s with his contributions to various underground publications, particularly for his series “Barefootz,” in which he included a supporting character named Headrack who was gay. In 1979, he became the first editor of “Gay Comix,” an anthology featuring comics by openly queer cartoonists, where he highlighted the work of lesbian artists like Roberta Gregory and Mary Wings. According to Cruse’s obituary in the New York Times, publisher Mike Kitchen says he had been adamant that women be given equal representation in the magazine from the very beginning.