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Cindy Crane

Cindy first appears in issue #2 of the first volume of Hard Time, and while some hints are given about her past, most of her story is told in issue #4 of the second volume. Cindy was born to a single mother who worked as a beautician. She named her little baby Edward Thomas. With no one to watch Edward, she often brought him to the beauty shop where he played with mannequin heads and wigs.

When it came time to enroll him in kindergarten, Tad, who works in the beauty shop, cuts short Edward’s hair. Edward began to experience gender dysphoria at school and at home. One day Edward is caught playing dolls with a girl named Anna and he’s also wearing earrings. The result is a “talking-to.” The chat is a shock for both the mother and child. Edward learns boys never wear earrings and then confesses that he wants to be called “Cindy,” after Cindy Crawford on the cover of his mother’s favorite magazine. Tearful, she makes Edward promise never to call use the name “Cindy” again.

Grade school became worse for Edward. The boys beat on him because they assumed he was a sissy, and the girl  fought to keep his friend Anna separated from him. Finally the principle confronted his mother with two choices: medicate her child with ADHD drugs or expulsion. She relented.

Not long after this turning point, Edward caught his mother in bed with a man named Rick, who proclaims to the boy he’s moving in and will be his “new dad.” Rick’s demeanor is smarmy and he’s abusive to Edward. Rick schemed to make himself look better by engaging Edward with stereotypical male practices such as playing catch, and working on the car, and then teasing or tormenting him.

Edward’s life became worse when Rick was fired from his job for drinking. Rick’s new torments were met with retaliations from Edward, creating a cycle that ended horribly one night when Rick returned home early from bowling to stumble on Edward dressed in his mother’s clothes and putting on make-up. Enraged, Rick knocks Edward to the floor, terrorizes him with a knife, and demands to know “Girl or boy.”

When Edward answers he’s a boy, Rick starts to sexually molest him. Later that night, Edward’s mom returns to a darkened home and finds Rick drunk and claiming “[the] li’l bastard came on to me…” She’s horrified to find her child sprawled on her bedroom floor bruised and crying. Edward is in hysterics and shouts that he never broke the promise not to tell anyone he is really Cindy. She punches Rick and kicks him out of her house.

Cindy’s life story continues in the following issue. Stress and bullying continue to worsen at school throughout the next few years. One day a teenaged boy approached Edward in the hall and invites him to come to a Gay and Lesbian Coalition meeting after school. Edward asserts that he’s not gay.

His mother trips down the stairs at home and shatters her pelvis. Knowing she’ll be hospitalized for a series of operations, she tells Edward to stay at home. Free from adult supervision for the first time, Edward decides one morning not to go to school again because the idea makes him sick. Instead, he goes to the mall and gets caught shoplifting a pair of earrings. Tad, the male beautician, comes to Edward’s rescue at his trial. The sentence is probation and mandatory counseling, where he attends group sessions with LGBT teens, and discovers what transgender means and its relevance and decides to start transitioning and using the name Cindy. Cindy meets a girl Sandy, who works as a sex worker to save money for “the operation.” Cindy confides she was fired from a fast food job and is worried the electricity will be turned off. Sandy suggests hooking to Cindy, and makes her up as a way to persuade her how good an idea it is.

Sandy takes Cindy to a far away part of town. It isn’t long before Cindy learns the ropes and feels reasonably comfortable offering oral sex to men who are mostly unsuspecting. One night a man approaches Cindy. He persists in wanting intercourse until he discovers Cindy is a trans woman. He produces a knife, and like Rick a few years before, becomes violent, stabbing Cindy in the back. She recoils, and the john rushes to punch her as she removes the knife from her back and, intentionally or not, stabs him.

Cindy recovers from the stab wound, and is also convicted for prostitution and assault with a deadly weapon, and is sent to the penitentiary where she and Ethan Harrow meet in issue #2 (volume 1).

In issue #2 Ethan has been convicted for murder for his part in a Columbine style school shooting, and sent to the same penitentiary in which Cindy is serving her sentence. While Ethan passes her before, the two meet in the prison library where In issue #2 Ethan has been convicted for murder for his part in a Columbine Cindy works. Being fresh meat, Ethan is a prime candidate for a set up which Cindy lures him into as a favor to her cellmate (and bodyguard) Swift. Ethan is saved when another prisoner breaks up the fight. In the following issue Ethan confronts Cindy who runs away to her cell, only to discover “all [her] nice things ruined.”

In issue #5 Cindy and members of Swift’s gang try to get info from Ethan about who attacked Swift earlier by drugging him. The plan backfires and Ethan passes out. After several frightening minutes, regains consciousness. Cindy tries to explain why she took part in the last set up, but Ethan won’t hear it, and storms off (issue #6). Swift leaves the infirmary using crutches and returns to his cell and joyful Cindy who scored Swift’s favorite cookies and tea as a “welcome home” gift. Cindy’s even decorated the cell. Her happiness is brief though; Swift confesses to Cindy he’s scared, and later he admonishes and warns her about embarrassing him in front of other prisoners. After another disconcerting incident in the mess hall, Cindy is eager to find a way to get in his good graces again. Turo, a rival prison gang member, suggests to her some alone time in a special place. She excitedly confides their special place is the boiler room, and she’s off to make arrangements. Later, Swift follows her to the place she’s made, but things go horribly wrong. Swift has a break from reality and starts to attack Cindy. Turo comes to her “rescue” and Swift is “accidentally” impaled on one of his own crutches. His death was a test for Turo given to him by the Aryan Brotherhood gang. This issue closes with a scene of Cindy in laid up in the infirmary.

By issue #9 Cindy has left the infirmary. She’s been transferred to B- Block, specifically to Cole’s cell. Cole is from the Aryan Brotherhood gang, and Cindy believes someone is trying to kill her, but promises to make Cole happy if he’s nice to her. The pair share a scene in #10 in which an upset Cindy confides in Cole that she is transgender, not gay as many of the inmates believe. Cindy and Ethan have a brief, antagonistic scene in #12.

Ethan gets involved in a prison yard fight with a mob-affiliated prisoner who threatens Ethan’s life. Cindy witnesses the fight and advises Ethan to get protection and urges him to meet with Cole, her cell mate, which he does. Meanwhile, Cindy seems anxious for the arrival of a mysterious transfer prisoner named Cutter (issue #2, volume 2). With the next issue, Cutter arrives. He and Cindy meet in the cafeteria when he decides to sit across from her. Cindy becomes enthralled not only with Cutter’s tattoos, but because he treats he without any prejudice. She opens up and they both engage in conversation. At one point, Cindy mentions how she’d like pierced ears but always backs out. Later, the pair is seen walking through the yard and prison as Cindy gives Cutter the low down about various prisoners. At some point when the two are not together, Cutter has also talked with another prisoner, Hardin, who falls under Cutter’s sway. The closing scene of this issue has Cindy appearing at Cutter’s cell and finding Hardin there as well. Cutter persuades Cindy that by piercing her ears she will confront her fears and become empowered. She relents. Cutter licks the blood from one ear and commands Hardin to do the same to the other one, uniting them in a bizarre relationship.

Hard Time ends with issue #7. We’re told that Cindy is released in 2011 and goes to work with Tad at the beauty salon where her mother worked. Cindy becomes the owner when Tad dies, as well as owning three other shops. Cindy saves up money and undergoes sexual reassignment surgery. She meets an unnamed man who falls in love with her and they marry. Her past makes no difference to him at all. Her husband dies of unstated causes and enjoys life traveling luxury class and being surrounded by handsome men.

Cindy Crane created by Steve Gerber and Brian Hurtt.

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July 4, 2021
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