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posted December 23, 2005
Dark Horse, $2.95
For the life of me, I'll never figure Terry LaBan out. He can draw anything -- I mean ANYTHING -- in that loose, comfortable style of his; he's one of the few cartoonists who has the sort of conversational art style that makes you think any single thing he'd like to talk about could be worked through in what is, on the other hand, a very distinctive look.
On the other hand, I've never much cared for the vast majority of stories he's cared to tell, and this last issue of the Dark Horse run of Cud
is no exception. The lead story tells us that mall culture leads to conformity, over-consumerism and turns cool people into dweebs -- say it ain't so! What might have been cutting edge in a 1978 fanzine is hardly satisfactory material for an artist of LaBan's facility.
Gary Groth asserted the other day that LaBan's most recent work owes a lot to the conceptions and rhythms of Gilbert Shelton. That observation is so apt it's overtly simplistic: LaBan's stories do kind of have that jaunty naturalism, at least the Eno and Plum stories do, but without Shelton's classic structure and appealing characters. Back-up stories like this issue's "Mickey Pimple: Teen Adventure" are a different matter altogether, but usually bore me all the same. These are essentially one-joke strips, in which excruciatingly humiliating (often sexual) circumstances are served up straight-faced to the horrified victims.
LaBan is rumored to be moving on into newspaper work next, and the one promising thing about that is that the single-panel throwaway in the letters page is funnier than anything else in the entire issue.
This review was written in the late 1990s as part of a then-ongoing freelance gig; I apologize if it reads oddly or seems incomplete.