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human drama
 
spotty writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 2
total score 6
The Human Drama
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REVIEW SCORE 7
Only Printing / October, 1978 / 36 pages / The Print Mint
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The Human Drama presents some excellent artwork with some pretty bad stories, an unusual combination more commonly found in mainstream comic books (with undergrounds, it's more often the other way around; we've seen some pretty good stories with less-than-stellar art). Another oddity in this book is that none of the nine stories have any titles. We might see an untitled story on occasion in other books, but I don't remember any books that featured this many stories that were all untitled.

It's not that the writing is bad in The Human Drama. In fact, quite a bit of the writing is pretty good, but it's the stories that fall short here. Like the Spain Rodriguez story that opens the book, which features a beautiful opening panel with a hot chick strolling into a seedy tavern with a dusty cowboy hunkered down at the bar. Spain regales us with the notorious background of our cowboy, but it ends with a non sequitur about vegetables. Actually, it's not too bad, but I was hoping for more.

The second story by Leslie Cabarga isn't that bad either, but the third, with Alan Weiss and Howard Hopkirk pairing up to share an old codger's childhood memory of the Old West, seems to have an indecipherable confrontation that turns a lone-riding cowboy into a hero. But damn if I can figure out how the damstrel in distress in this tale works her way into the plot or what it means when she's saved.

Greg Irons and Roger Brand each illustrate two stories that have terrific art and sometimes solid writing (and even good plotting for a while) until they end in somewhat unsatisfying ways. The Irons collaboration with editor Jim Madow that closes the book is perhaps the most frustrating, as it spins an interesting tale about an Old West scoundrel that seeks "the ultimate pleasure" and will stop at nothing to experience it. The four-page story runs on to the inside back cover and then on to the back cover, morphing into full color, until it suddenly ends, as if it ran out of room. It's as if the story was intended to run one more page and deliver the answer to our burning question, which is "does the scoundrel experience the ultimate pleasure?" Alas, we will never know. And it doesn't feel like the author intended for us not to know, but I guess he did!

The Human Drama features some legendary underground creators hitting the peak of their artistic skills, then drops the ball on the storytelling. To be honest, it's probably not as bad as I make it out to be, but there isn't a single story here that I find compelling all the way to a satisfying conclusion. Maybe adding some titles would've helped the vision for these stories. On second thought...probably not.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
The Print Mint printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
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COMIC CREATORS:
Spain Rodriguez - 1, 3-5, 23-24
Mark Fisher - 2
Leslie Cabarga - 6-9
Alan Weiss - 10-14 (art)
Howard Hopkirk - 10-14 (story)
Roger Brand - 15-16, 25-32
Greg Irons - 17-22 (art), 33-36 (art)
Jim Madow (editor) - 17-22 (story), 33-36 (story)