September 18th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Photo 106

Howard Cruse, the king o’ queer comics, has this great new book out. From Headrack to Claude is a collection of his comics spanning 33 years. There’s amazing stuff here, from his underground series Barefootz, to the classic stories he did for Gay Comics, (If you’ve never read “Dirty Old Lovers!” or “Cabbage Patch Clone,” these alone are worth the price of the book!) to recent pieces he did for Boy Trouble and Young Bottoms in Love. It’s an valuable trove of cartoon history and you can buy it here at

59 Responses to “Cruse-o-rama”

  1. Ali says:

    AB another one of your caption demanding facial expressions – we are all wondering what is on that page to engender such facial contortion.
    Which is your favourite strip of his?

    Talking of comics my son (6 this month) having binged his way through Tintin and Asterix is now devouring the Beanos from our local library. He keeps trying to get my copy of Essential DTWOF but he has a very enquiring mind and never accepts a less than detailed answer – so I have been reticent until he has a bit less innocence to loose.
    A love of graphic novels will stand him well in life. Are there therefore some other graphic novels you would recommend to the young enquiring mind?

  2. Aunt Soozie says:

    L’Shana Tovah!

  3. Tom Geller says:

    I sort of wish he hadn’t included so much that was in “Dancin’ Nekkid with the Angels”. I’ll still get it — I love his work — but will feel like I’m only getting half of a new book. :-/

  4. Ian says:

    @Ali: I loved Tintin and Asterix too at that age. There was another series of books that Goscinny (or Uderzo) worked on that I can’t remember the name of. All I remember is that it was set in the Middle East and had an evil Grand Vizier called Iznogoud who always kept saying “I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph!” Not quite the same standard as Asterix, but great fun. I don’t know if you can still get them, but I had a few when I was younger.

  5. Rose says:

    Ali – the Bone series by Jeff Smith is terrific for young lovers of graphic novels and comics.

    also, the Little Lit series of books are fun. They are compilations of kid friendly collaborations done by some awesome authors and comic artists.

    This is a pretty thorough bibliography of recommended titles for kids

    And You might also check out the website No Flying, No Tights. Its a site specifically for info on graphic novels for kids and teens. I think the young kids section is called “sidekicks”

  6. Calico says:

    Have any of you ever read Quino’s “Mafalda”?
    She’s one little Socialist firecracker, that kid.

  7. Ali says:

    Thanks to Rose and Ian re children’s graphic novels.
    So who wants to guess what Alison is looking at/thinking in the photo. As BBC’s Blue Peter would say answers on a postcard.

  8. Ellen Orleans says:

    Apropos of nothing (what else is new on this blog?) last night, I began reading Judith Levine’s book Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping. Part of it takes place in Vermont, so when, on page 15, I read a reference to “Alison, a cartoonist,” I thought, “Could that possibly be Alison Bechdel?”

    I flipped to the acknowledgments and sure enough, there was her full name. I immediately felt friendly toward the author, figuring that since she kept such excellent company, she must be a good egg.

    I was initially concerned that Not Buying It would be preachy and egocentric, focused on yet another wealthy couple giving up what millions don’t have in the first place. I’m delighted that my fears were misplaced.

    Coming from an upper-middle class background and now living a hard-to-define economic style (I spend a lot of money on travel and my mortgage, very little on cars, appliances, clothes, and movies), I’ve found Levine’s writing very thoughtful and captivating. It raises questions of quantity and quality and what we value and why. So far, it balances the personal, political, and philosophical really well. I’m only on page 33, but I’m hooked.

    Since I’m curious how people from other economic backgrounds and current circumstances would feel about her musings, I’m looking forward to my book group discussion next month.

  9. Kate L says:

    Comic books. I can remember walking to a store in Arlington, Virginia, in the summer of 1966 to buy a comic book. The old guy at the counter told me that I was too old for comics. I was =eleven=! 🙁 Yes, I was born in late 1954. And I just found out that MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is nearly five years younger than me!!! Keith, dear, the wedding is OFF!

    I’m here in my office on campus composing an exam for next week, and I thought that I was the only one in the building. I just went down the elevator to the basement to find a restroom I can use, and I stepped out into a totally dark hallway (it’s night time in America, again). At moments like these, I always remember a great line that Deforest Kelly (Dr. McCoy) had in the original Star Trek (“I always find it unnerving to transport into the dark.”). Except that when I switched on the hall lights, I heard something down the hall and around the corner fall over. It’s time for me to go back down there to leave the building and go home to my dog. Once more into the breach, dear friends…

  10. Ali says:

    Kate you have left on a cliff-hanger! Now I’m worried if you are OK. I do not want Dr. McCoy’s other famous line to be true.
    Also I’m in England so by the time it’s get up time for you – in the most realistic scenario you got home and went to bed – I will be edgy to say the least. Wishing positive thoughts across the Atlantic! I’m not a quaker but I wish I was so I could bathe people I am concerned about in positive energy.

  11. Alex K says:

    @10 / Ali — Hey there! We in the Society of Friends don’t have an armlock on that technique. Especially after what went on at Yale this month, Kate, consider yourself soppin’ wet. In positive enerrrrrrgy!

  12. Diana says:

    Wonderful to see a post on Howard- stumbled onto this on his blog a few days ago, and thought, “why isn’t anyone plugging this really important collection of really great fun work?”
    Thanks for bringing this to the forefront, Alison!

  13. Kate L says:

    … KATE LIVES ! 🙂 Thanks for the concern!

    I thought that I would be smart by riding the elevator down to the first floor instead of the basement, and exiting from there. As I left the elevator, I hit the “basement” button to serve as a diversion. I immediately realized that the first floor was pitch black, as well, and I KNOW the hall lights were on there earlier. I found my way to the light switch by sense of memory because there are no outside windows in the first floor hallway, making it even darker than the basement was. With the lights on, I saw that I was apparently alone. I left the building and went home.

  14. --MC says:

    He’s great.

  15. --MC says:

    Ooops, that was “Post” not “Priview”. I also meant to add that I treasure a photocopy of a postcard that my editor on an AIDS information comic I worked on in the late 80s received from Howard, praising the work. (Of course, the editor kept the original.)

  16. Ian says:

    Are you sure it’s not the security guard Kate L? Maybe you should start taking your dog to work. If you’ve got one that is?

  17. Ian says:

    PS I love the “Dirty Old Lovers” strip posted on Mr Cruse’s website. I wonder if I can still get the Wendell collection somewhere?

  18. Kate L says:

    Ian (#16) I sure hope the security guard isn’t lurking in darkened hallways. And there was the time a few months ago when I went down to the main office one night, and heard footsteps scurrying down the darkened first floor hallway. And, yes, I have a dog. A magnificent 54-pound harrier hound. Ok, an adequate 54-pound harrier hound.

  19. Ian says:

    I’d take your dog with you if you’re planning on working late then! Besides, a dog would be company.

    On the bright side you could be being stalked by a lady geologist, tool belt, duct-taped boots n’ all …

  20. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    Get one of those cheapo LED flashlights and throw it in your bag or jacket pocket. They give a good bright light and the batteries last nearly forever because the LEDs use very little juice. Don’t stray onto darkened hallways without it.

    Also, dumb question… why do you need to write an exam at work over the weekend? Can’t you do that from home? Or does being in the office put your brain into work mode?

  21. hairball_of_hope says:

    From the “Here’s why we need a Federal LGBT antidiscrimination law” department:

    The Wall Street Journal reports that a former senior partner for Korn/Ferry International Inc. is suing the firm for firing her because she is gay.

    Quoting from the article:

    Korn/Ferry’s “workplace was permeated with antigay animus,” the lawsuit says, describing alleged antigay comments made by top Korn/Ferry executives.

    As part of the suit, Ms. Smye’s attorney filed a declaration by Donna McNicol, senior vice president of human resources for Canadian telecommunications company Telus Corp., who says a Korn/Ferry recruiter told her the search firm could “screen out gay and lesbian candidates” for its clients.

  22. Kate L says:

    Ian, hairball (#19, #20)

    A few years ago, a severe ice storm knocked out electricity all over the state. I was lucky, my power was out for most of a day. My former psychiatrist was without electricity for =weeks=. Anyway, when I lost power the night of the storm, the house was cooling down alarmingly and tree limbs were crashing down all over. I made a Janeway-like decision to abandon ship, and loaded up my crew (Sandy, my dog) and headed for my office on campus. Power was still on there, and with food and water for Sandy and a bedroll for me, we stayed there overnight. Sandy was =freaked out= all night long, because the wooden floorboards of this old building seemed to be creaking in sequence, making it sound like someone was sneaking slowly down the hallway toward my office. Summoning my Janewayesque gumption, I investigated but found no one at all in the deserted building. To make a long story short, that’s why I don’t bring Sandy to work with me anymore.

    hairball… my desktop PC is in my office on campus. I have free high-speed internet access here (the high speed is a BIG help). That’s right… my department will not provide me with a computer, although our interim dept. chair asked me recently if my desktop computer belongs to the department. Actually, he is providing me with an Apple desktop for one class I’m teaching where there is no built-in computer that I can just plug a memory stick into. Hmmm… you may be on to something there, hairball! That, and the LED flashlight, as well!

  23. j.b.t. says:

    Ellen O. – I loved Not Buying It! I read it a couple (?) years ago after Alison recommended it on this blog. Fantastic.

  24. Dr. Empirical says:

    Ali, first of all I second the recommendation of Bone by Jeff Smith. It’s fun, it’s funny, and you’ll enjoy it just as much as your son will.

    I’d also like to recommend The Underburbs, a purely home-grown comic by two guys trying to sell enough comics to quit their day jobs. I bought issue 1 from them at a comics convention a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Help support do it yourself art!

    Underburbs can be ordered at:

  25. hairball_of_hope says:

    I am woefully uneducated in the nuances of US copyright law, but this article in today’s Wall Street Journal caught my eye.

    Heirs of Jack Kirby’s estate (creator of “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” comics, among others) have served copyright-termiation notices to Marvel Comics, Walt Disney Studios, et al.

    Quoting from the article:

    Mr. Kirby’s four children are seeking to recapture as early as 2014 copyrights to characters he created. Those creations and co-creations are currently owned by Marvel. But if the heirs gain control of the copyrights, they could license them without Marvel’s permission, or at least secure a share of the profits generated by those characters.

    The heirs served the notices under the auspices of the U.S. Copyright Act, which permits authors and their heirs to terminate old copyright grants after a long waiting period, allowing them to recapture the rights for their own use.

  26. Andrew B says:

    A great thing about Alison’s self-portrait at the top of this post is how cartoonish it is — exaggerated expression, surprising crop, heavy lines, the use of diagonals to draw attention to her response.

  27. --MC says:

    NB, my favorite strip by Cruse is the one where Dolly and Barefootz go shopping, and wind up chanting “Mamasoyboyvumulakrishkrosh” until everybody in the store has an orgy. I mean, “Mamasoyboyvumulakrishkrosh” — for one thing, I can bring that to mind without looking it up, which means it’s that memorable, and for another, how the hell did Howard think that up?

  28. Ian says:

    Speaking of book recommendations. I’ve just started an A-Level (16-18yr old level) history of art course at my local college. It’s not a subject I’ve studied before although I like to think I know a little more than your average layman.

    I’ve invested in Gombrich’s “Story of Art” of course, I’ve got a dictionary of art and artists and bought Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” as well as a couple of basic introductory texts. Can anyone recommend any other good books on the subject?

    I’m sure some of the folks on here must have a few ideas?

  29. Kate L says:

    The United States has never had a national health service, and over 40 million Americans have no health insurance. That means they pay premium rates for the health care they need, if they can get it at all. Fund raising drives for children who need operations or treatment for an illness their parents can’t afford are not uncommon sights in the U.S. Now, those wacky kids at Funny or Die and have thrown the spotlight on the real victims of President Obama’s health care reform: the private insurance company executives.

  30. Kat says:

    Ian, I took a couple of really fantastic art history classes in school and Uni.

    Unfortunately (well…for you), they were fantastic because the professors were amazing. I don’t even remember which books we used, because they were so engaging and informative that the books were very much a second thought.

    I hope you have LOTS of fun.

    Had I not been a musician, I would likely have pursued degrees in history of art/architecture……then I’d be even less employable than I am now!!

    Anyway, have lots and lots of fun for me, ‘kay??

  31. Dr. Empirical says:

    Ian, if you find a book you can recommend, please let us know! Everything I’ve come across in my random wanderings has ben either kindergarten-simplistic of crammed full of jargon. I’d love to find an art history book written somewhere near my level.

    In art museums I especially enjoy identifying saints in paintings by the props they hold. St. Peter has a key, St. Paul a sword. St. Margaret leads a dragon on a leash, and St. Agnes carries a sheep, because “agnus” is latin for sheep! In heraldric circles, that was considered a funny joke!

  32. Kat says:

    …and, Dr. E, for some reason, Joseph gets a mousetrap.

    Never have figured out why…..

  33. Ian says:

    @Kat and Dr. E: Um, thanks, I think! Lol! Well, if I turn up anything I’ll let you know if the rest on here don’t mind.

    It’s a really, really fun course. One session is spent looking at slides and the other is spent in one of the galleries doing a tour on a particular theme. Today we were in our local, VERY good gallery and concentrating on representations of the male figure, particularly at war.

    We studied a Henry Moore sculpture, a painting of the death of Nelson, a Hockney, a wonderful painting called Blotter by Paul Doig and a Rembrandt self-portrait. Just looking at these amazing pieces of art and discussing them is a joy that adds nothing to my employability, but a huge amount to my quality of life!

  34. Ali says:

    @ all you art history fans.
    For a rewarding but accessible perusal of art – Sister Wendy takes a lot of beating. A nun passionate about art and not afraid of the human form and its baser actions – as portrayed in many biblical and Greek myths. She still lives very quietly here in Norfolk as far as I know.

  35. Dr. Empirical says:

    I love Sister Wendy! Her 15-minute show used to be on PBS here, but I haven’t seen it in years.

    I remember one episode where she went into the musical instrument room of the museum she was touring to show us an early 18th-century piano, and she got to play it! I was so jealous.

  36. Feminista says:

    Dear Fo Friends:

    My email address & mailbox recently got phished by way of a very poorly-written plea for money saying I was stranded in the UK. I am in Portland,OR,and doing well.

    For those of you with whom I’ve corresponded offline and got the message,I’m sorry for the inconvenience and hassle.

    Feminista AKA Natasha

  37. Jain says:


    Somehow I guessed right away. Grammar and content were in a dead hat for the big clues.

  38. Kate L says:

    Belated good-wishes for Ian, and sympathy for Feminista. I guess I’ve been distracted, lately, with the following topic listed on “My hottest sexual fantasies are about a geologist”. Well, duh! Who DOESN’T have fantasies about geologists!!!

  39. Ian says:

    @KateL #38: Thanks Kate. I’m enjoying it a lot.

  40. Kate L says:

    You’re welcome, Ian! 🙂

    Hey, I was watching Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel tonight, and I SWEAR that Fox News rising star Glenn Beck actually said, “Social justice is synonymous with marxism”! Hokey Smoke, Bullwinkle, could Fox News be turning over a new leaf??

  41. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#40)

    I am still flummoxed by the anger, rage, and stupidity of folks who swallow the Fox News propaganda. So many of them are actually beneficiaries of the programs and policies they rail against. I find it incomprehensible that these folks have such a disconnect between their real lives and the BS that Fox, Limbaugh, et al. want them to believe.

    I had a heated discussion with a guy who is a Federal retiree and Armed Forces veteran. He gets his health insurance via the Federal employee program, and goes for care at the Veterans Administration hospital. But he ranted and raved about how Obama was ruining the country, and how the “government takeover” of the health care system would kill us all.

    “So, do you plan on giving up your VA benefits and retiree health insurance?” I asked.

    “Oh no, I EARNED those! I fought in Vietnam, and I worked almost 40 years to get my retirement. No sir, I’m gonna use them.”

    “Uh huh… do you plan on not signing up for Medicare at 65?”

    “I’m gonna get all the benefits I paid for with my taxes,” he said. “Medicare, Part A, B, and D.”

    Nothing like inconsistency (or sheer hypocrisy) to further one’s argument.

    The right-wing loonies use an amazing array of hyperbole to incite their ignorant masses. Trudeau made a good mockery of this in today’s Doonesbury, but I’ll bet the subtlety of it will be lost on the masses. Note that Trudeau partially blocked the swastika with Hitler’s arm, the political equivalent of draping a strategic body part with a bedsheet, to get past the nanny censors.

  42. Ready2Agitate says:

    nanny censors….??? (sounds kinda sexist to me)

  43. hairball_of_hope says:

    @R2A (#42)

    (Errr-whoooo [sound of linguistic police sirens pulling me over])

    Nah, it’s a variant of my perjorative for the dopey content filters used on computers, nanny filters. Meaning that The Powers That Be treat us as irresponsible children who have to be watched over by a nanny. Nothing says a nanny is necessarily female, although historically that has usually been a female-dominant job.

    We have these idiotic nanny filters at work which not only scan for words of interest in our e-mail, but also photos and attachments. They scan for the usual naughty words, words related to proprietary technology and trade secrets, the word “password,” and who knows what else. Presumably, a real person reviews the suspect e-mails before letting them through, which is why sometimes our e-mails take three days to get to their intended recipients.

    For attachments, they scan (and block) any attachments which contain certain executable extensions, such as .EXE, .COM, etc. But they’re too stupid to actually scan the internals of the attached files, so we just rename the extension to .TXT to get executable files through the filter.

    Photos are a bit of a pain. They scan for who knows what (pr0n?), and it can be a random affair as to what messages get blocked. Unlike the executable attachment filter, which simply blocks the attachment, the photo nanny filter blocks the entire message.

    I recently had a status report e-mail blocked because it had three photos attached, all of computer gear showing the various components. Don’t ask me how a bunch of cables looks obscene to a computer program, although I have a hunch it has something to do with shapes and unbroken swaths of vaguely flesh-colored content. I never thought a bunch of yellow cables could arouse anyone, but I might be wrong. HAL 9000 might be turned on by a bunch of cables.

    The stupidest thing about our nanny filters is the IT policy which says we must safeguard sensitive content by zipping them in password-protected zipfiles before sending via e-mail. The e-mail system can’t open the password-protected zipfiles to scan, so it deletes the attachments as being unsafe. Even if the system allowed the password-protected zipfiles to get through, how does the recipient know the password to the zipfile? It’s in the body of the e-mail message. So how is that secure? DUH. I am not making this up.

    The nimrods of IT and our corporate legal weasels claim this is required under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. I haven’t actually read the Act in its entirety, but while it does mandate that sensitive data are protected, I’m sure it doesn’t mandate stupidity. That requires the toxic combination of lawyers who are ignorant of tech, pointy-haired TPTB straight out of Dilbert, and IT folks who are just plain obstructive.

    Oh dear, I’m ranting again, aren’t I? Didn’t get the job last week, waste of a day wearing corporate drag answering idiotic interview questions. More interviews coming up, bleah.

  44. hairball_of_hope says:

    I need a typo filter… that’s supposed to be pejorative. Most of the time I drop letters from my left hand while typing, now it looks like I’m adding them. 🙁

  45. Kate L says:


    Interviews while wearing corporate drag. Then, not getting the job. I can relate. I think that I set a late 70’s, early 80’s record for jetting around the U.S. to interview on the dime of major oil companies. Usually to places like Houston or Dallas. Once to Los Angeles, once to Tucson. A few times to Denver, Colorado. One time my corporate host put me up in the Denver Radison, where I was kept up all night before my interview because of the rowdy crowd waiting to buy tickets to a Who concert. I’m also reminded of another interview-related adventure in Denver. The time is 1979. I pull into the underground basement garage of the ritzy downtown hotel (Major International Oil Company) is putting me up at. It takes me a few minutes to figure out how to get the key out of the ignition of my rental car, then it’s off to the elevator to take me into the hotel proper. When the elevator doors open, I step into the midst of a tuxedo- and evening gown – wearing group that look way too glamorous for me to be with. Later that year, I realize who they were: the cast of the then-new television series Dynasty, which was set in Denver. I remember seeing a distinguished-looking white haired man in the elevator who turned out to be John Forsythe. And, I recognized one of the women in the elevator wearing an evening gown as Joan Collins.

    Oh, and during my interview in L.A., my corporate hosts asked me where I would like to be taken to dinner. I was looking forward to eating Mexican food, so they took me to East L.A. Little did I know that, being used to Sonoran – Tejas cusine, I would recognize very few of the items on the menu! The meal turned out to be fine, and I must say that the view of downtown L.A. from Boyle Hights in East L.A. is spectacular!

  46. Pam I says:

    @ Ian, I’d love to know where you have found a college that delivers proper Adult Ed. Where I teach, the only thing that matters is a Proper Qualification. And that means Employability. Learning for fun has gone. My very successful photography evening classes have been axed, as they did not add to the annual Credits stash. This has happened all over, it’s Dept of Education policy.

    We were so lucky, our generation. At one time (1980s, when County Hall was run by people with a progressive view of education before Thatcher abolished it), 70% of adult Londoners were doing a course of some kind. All gone.

  47. Khatgrrl says:

    hairball #41

    I agree fully with you. I am always amazed by the “logic” used by the anti-health care folks. I asked my father if he was going to give up his medicare. He just looked at me blankly.

  48. Dr. Empirical says:

    The question is, if you get the job, will you have to wear corporate drag every day? That’s the situation in which I find myself. After decades of jeans and t-shirts, I have to wear shirts with BUTTONS! Every DAY! No tie, thank goodness.

    I try to take comfort in the thought that I didn’t sell out until I was over forty.

  49. Ginjoint says:

    Pam, your post reminded me about something else about education in the past. I was in elementary school throughout the ’70’s, at a generic public (private) school, and we had music classes – learning how to read music, playing instruments, the sections of an orchestra, etc. We had art classes, and recess to blow off steam. From what I’ve heard about many schools, these have all been eliminated due to budget cuts. (Hey, we have a war to pay for!) Anyone out there with elementary school-aged kids who can elaborate?

    As for adults, yes, I think the notion of learning for fun has been decimated by the idea that classes should further employment – otherwise it’s considered frivolous in this economy. (How sick is everyone of that phrase?)

  50. Pam I says:

    We’ve always had _this economy_. UK state schools have dropped loads of the art-type stuff, partly from cuts but largely from ideology. Employabilty again, except it’s called Core Skills or some such.

    I don’t know what they do learn instead. Just general knowledge about their world, this country, general science and arts – ain’t there. I shouldn’t despair so much, but this week I’ve had two lovely examples of what-do-they-do-in-school with my new groups of 16-y-olds. I show them visual metaphors, then send them out to find their own. The slides include a set of scales, which leads to the statue of Justice on the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court), none had heard of it, or the statue, or the idea. And another discussion on the equinox, showed that none knew where Stonehenge is, and most had not heard of it.

    Don’t these things appear in Harry Potter, or on TV cop shows?

    Maybe I ask too much, as one whose childhood was spent reading encyclopaedias. For fun.

  51. Renee S. says:

    @ Pam #50
    I see that, as a kid, you were an encyclopedia reader too! I bet you read the dictionary as well.
    I still have an old set of encyclopedias in the house. It’s more fun to search for information in them instead of Googling all of the time. The problem is it becomes difficult to put the book down.

    When I was a kid, my mom sent me upstairs to vacuum the carpets. She came up later and caught me sitting down on the bed, reading an encyclopedia, while I moved the vacumm cleaner back and forth over the same spot.

  52. Ian says:

    @Pam I: I don’t think my course classes itself as Adult Ed. It’s an AS Level that runs in the daytime as part of the A Levels and Foundation in Art courses. I can only do it because I’m not working and I get help with the tuition costs.

    The University runs some learning for fun evening classes. The local history and archaeology are pretty popular. In fact, it may be the last place that offers that kind of thing. You’d like it – they run courses on the Wirral at a place called Burton Manor, which is basically an artists’ retreat where they have things like residential watercolour week-long courses.

    The Adult Learning Service (administered by the council that takes place at night in various local schools and community centres) has been practically halved in recent years. The language classes are always over-subscribed, and crafts and alternative therapy courses are very popular too. But it has become very career-oriented. But there are still some courses that are learning for fun. Still, Liverpool is a place where the WEA had a good long tradition.

    I find younger people (listen to me, I’m only 35), very short on general knowledge or curiosity about the world around them these days. It’s very worrying.

  53. Pam I says:

    @ Ian, your course comes into the treasured category of being Accredited. If you did exactly the same thing without the A Level qualification, I doubt that it would exist. I just keep hoping that the fashion will change / someone higher up will realise the huge hole that has opened up. The trouble is the people /politicians who create the strategies are sheltered from the reality of a roomful of bored, narrowminded, uncurious kids, the offspring of ditto. Visiting politicians, and in fact the higher-ups in the college, never get to sit in a room like that.

  54. Kat says:

    Pam I,
    When I was in London for grad school, I worked at a school in Whitechapel. It seemed to focus on all those “employability” (it was called a “Business and Enterprise College) things. Despite that, it had a really interesting music program. There was the general music appreciation/music history part that the kids would need for GCSE’s, and then they would also choose to come to me for singing, or to one of the guys who taught guitar, drum set or even DJing/mixing.

    It was really interesting, because it seemed to focus on areas of music that would draw the kids in.

    I don’t think that this place was representative of other schools, and you probably wouldn’t find a program like that in an American publicly funded school. Still, though, I thought it was a valuable program.

  55. Ian says:

    Oh you’re absolutely right Pam. Most of the programmes on the Adult Learning Service have certificates/qualifications with which to impress (or not) your prospective or existing employer.

    I agree with your point, but I quite like having the piece of paper at the end of a course. I get a stronger sense of achievement. I do come from a working-class background though that prioritised education and higher-level qualifications in particular as a way out of poverty so it’s sort of ingrained in me.

  56. Pam I says:

    I used to make my own ‘certificates of achievement’ for the short photo courses I ran, and we had a little ceremony at the end where people would show what they had learnt and get a round of applause. We all enjoyed it, great big hairy adults to a woman/man. For that, no-one needed a proper bit of paper from an outside body.

    And now they have gone, completely. My college which used to run ten nights a week of short photo classes, now has – none. Only year-long accredited courses at £1000+ a time. Something wrong here surely?

  57. […] Alison, for plugging From Headrack to Claude so entertainingly in your September 18 blog entry! Who else but my comics-creating colleague and pal Stephen R. Bissette, who teamed up with […]