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solid writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 2
total score 7
Softcore Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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Only Printing / 1973 / 36 pages / Print Mint
If you read underground comics mostly for the deviant sex, Softcore will be one you greatly enjoy, as every page revolves around sex or sex organs in some way. Softcore was primarily produced by two men, Michael J. Becker and Rob Landeros, along with one two-pager by one of the editors of Wimmen's Comix, Shelby Sampson. Landeros and Becker had produced the two-issue series Rubber Duck for the Print Mint before Softcore, which would be the last underground Landeros did before moving on to more traditional media and eventually building a successful career in graphic design and the computer gaming industry.

As I mentioned in my review of Rubber Duck, it's a shame Landeros didn't continue working in comics longer than he did. After honing his Robert Crumb-inspired illustration skills in Rubber Duck, he conspired with Becker to create Softcore and contributes some truly deviant and funny stories. It's also a shame that Becker left comics sometime in the '70s, as his illustration here is exceptional and I would've loved to see more of it.

Softcore begins with Becker's nine-page "The Bang Gang," which is about a group of three young men and three young women who decide to go into the porn business to "fuck our way into a fortune." "The Bang Gang" is sort of reminiscent of the movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but this one is played strictly for laughs and some outrageous sexcapades. This is Becker's only contribution to the book and it's beautifully crafted and carefully detailed.

Landeros is the more politically incorrect of the pair, as his epic "Joe Fuggenstein, Bad Scientist" amply demonstrates. The 15-page story is told in three parts, the second being "House of Fuggenstein" and the third "The Fall of the House of Fuggenstein." It's about a mad scientist and his oversexed daughter who are always bickering about her wanton behavior. But then the father builds a robot version of himself who isn't programmed quite right and gets the hots for the daughter, leading to disastrous consequences. This trilogy makes for a satisfying if bittersweet farewell to Rob Landeros, comics creator.

In addition to the two main stories, which bookend this issue, there are seven additional one- and two-pagers in the middle of the book, with titles like "Hard-Core Action Dolls," "It's A Circus of Sex" and "Five Clowns and a Gorl." They're all neatly illustrated but essentially filler material that kick the total review score down a point. Still, there are few sex-themed undergrounds that are better illustrated than Softcore. If you enjoyed Rubber Duck #2 as much as I did then you're sure to enjoy this one as well.
Print Mint produced approximately 20,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.

Rob Landeros - 1, 11, 14-36
Michael J. Becker - 2-10
Shelby Sampson - 12-13