Wednesday, September 30, 2015

(20) Tales of the Rustler Basement

This is a story Jan Suter told of cruising at the Rustler, Toledo's alleged leather/S&M bar.

Toledo also had a bar called the Open Closet. Hence the name of my fictional leather bar, The Cowboy Closet.

Note the use of the word "alleged." Some gossip in the 1980s had it that the Rustler was not the rough S&M joint it was made out to be, but just a friendly social club for gay  guys who liked denim and leather. Reputedly there was a dark back room for anonymous sex. Others held it was a joke. When I posted this on Facebook one commentator stated that sex in the Rustler basement was very real, and no joke. I guess it depended on what time of day (or night) you went there, what you were looking for, and how you let bar patrons know what you wanted.

The Rustler quiche anecdote was told to me by Jan himself (the recipe was mine). Jan liked leather and denim and probably visited the Rustler basement. Today the building is a laundromat.

Murphy's Manor #20 is another strip I redrew for reprint, 7 years later.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

(19) You're Never Fully Dressed Without Tight Undies

Murphy's Manor #19

Today Jeff goes to job interviews in chat rooms attired in his most formal jockey shorts. When the interviewer asks what his skill set is, all he has to do is stand up.

All depends on the kind of job you're applying for!

(18) Gay is for Out-of-Towners

How the world has changed! Yes even Toledo Ohio. Not that long ago even most gay activists were closeted to a degree.

Just as one example -- Toledo didn't get much turnout at its feeble attempts at gay pride parades because people were afraid of being seen by TV cameras. We also had trouble finding people who were willing to go on camera for TV news and speak as a gay activist. This cartoon represents my modestly proposed solution. 

Only the past 5-10 years has this finally changed. Today Toledo has a very well attended Pride event. It was a long time coming.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

(17) Self-Help Books versus Teddy Bears

Turning (loving) satire on the community not just our foes, this strip features cynicism about gay self help books, popular at the time (1982). The gay community was just emerging from personal isolation, where every gay kid thought he was the only queer in town. Books by esteemed professionals with lots of initials after their names gave us intellectual solace. That was the product you plopped down your $11.95 for.

The other comment this strip evokes is one that'll become pretty obvious. When I felt I had a strong idea for a strip, I would often use the basic concept in two consecutive strips, but with gags hitting different points. #16 and #17 are such a pair.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

(16) My Life with the Syndicate

Remember when books about gays and lesbians were scarce, difficult to get, embarrassing to buy? So much so that we needed specialty book shops for them? Remember when there used to be book stores? 

And are we post-gay enough that nobody suffers coming out pangs like we used to?

Note also the advent of the "Stonewall Features Syndicate" label. I'd forgotten that started so early in the strip's run! Yes, it was a newspaper syndicate that handled the business end of features to the any local gay papers across the country. Which previously I had done myself. Well, these guys seemed professional. If they can get me into more papers while relieving me of the hassles of accounts receivable -- isn't it worth it?

I signed up for a one year contract. After that, I was back on my own as they went bust. Before knowing they were throwing in the towel I told them I was not going to renew. They had raised my rates and taken a large percentage. They did not get me into more papers.

Hell, I can do better than that myself!

And I did for some 27 years.