July 19, 1961 |
|Area(s)||Cartoonist, Writer, Artist|
Terry LaBan (born July 19, 1961) is an alternative/underground cartoonist and newspaper comic strip artist. He is probably best known for his comic book series Cud, and his syndicated strip Edge City, created with his wife, Patty LaBan, a couples and family therapist.
LaBan is known for his sympathetic and believable characters, real-life dialogue, tight cartoon style and straightforward storytelling.
LaBan began his career in 1986, freelancing political cartoons for the Ann Arbor News. He's been staff illustrator and political cartoonist for the progressive political magazine In These Times since 1990.
Unsupervised Existence and Cud
LaBan's first foray into comics was his series Unsupervised Existence, published by Fantagraphics beginning in 1989. Loosely based on LaBan's own life at the time, Unsupervised Existence was a semi-humorous comic book soap opera which followed the adventures of Suzy and Danny, a young, bohemian couple living in Cleveland. Suzy, an underemployed intellectual, spends a lot of time hanging around with her friends and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Danny, her boyfriend, supports them both by driving a cab, but his true vocation is poetry, which he self-publishes, along with the work of his fellow cabbies. Unsupervised Existence garnered LaBan Harvey Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best New Series in 1990. The series was collected in its entirety in two paperbacks, Love's Not a Three-Dollar Fare (the main Suzy and Danny story) and International Bob.
International Bob focused on the series' most outrageous character, rock musician/performance artist Bob Binkum. In the book, hulking, morose Bob comes into his own after he leaves the United States in the wake of breaking up with his flighty girlfriend Annadette, who decided she was more into women than men. Fleeing the soap opera, Bob treks from Greece to India in search of exotic escape. LaBan vividly evoked the nothing-to-lose, anything-can-happen world of the unfettered, impecunious vagabond as Bob tries everything from selling junk jewelry on the street to getting ripped off after a romantic encounter.
Unsupervised Existence was followed by another series, Cud (also published by Fantagraphics), in 1992. Patterned after books like Dan Clowes' Eightball and R. Crumb's Zap, Cud featured a continuing story called "You Can't Spank the Monkey If It's on Your Back", which followed the rise and fall of a performance artist named Bob Cudd. Cudd was lifted from Unsupervised Existence, but he was a different character in the new series. The rest of each issue featured random stories, several of which went on to appear in other places at other times. "Muktuk Wolfsbreath, Hard-Boiled Shaman", for instance, became a DC Comics miniseries. Cud lasted eight issues.
In 1995, LaBan moved over to Dark Horse Comics, where his third series Cud Comics ran another eight issues, until 1998. Though Cud Comics had almost the same name as the Fantagraphics series, it was otherwise very different. LaBan described it as "an attempt to create a sort of Generation X Freak Brothers". Every issue featured several stories about Eno and Plum, a "slacker" couple living in the city. Eno was a lazy Generation X stereotype interested chiefly in watching cable television, while his girlfriend Plum was more of an active go-getter. Other major characters included Plum's dad, Seymour Riverpeace, a wealthy aging, pot-smoking hippy; Catherine, Plum's unhappily single girlfriend; and Edgar Reamington, a yuppie who was always trying to steal away Plum. Most of the stories in the first four issues were collected in a 1997 paperback. He cites both Archie Comics and Gilbert Shelton as influences.
In 2001, King Features Syndicate syndicated Edge City, a daily comic strip drawn by LaBan and co-written with his wife, Patty LaBan. Edge City (e.g., a community outside the boundaries of what people traditionally think of as the city and its suburb) looks at modern family life through the eyes of the fictional Ardin family. In the strip, Len and Abby Ardin are a Jewish-American couple dwelling in the far reaches of suburbia, in a life very different from the one they lived growing up. Between managing their careers and taking care of their kids, Len and Abby barely have time to wave to each other as they hurry off to yet another meeting, carpool or errand. And while their neighborhood is incredibly diverse, it seems like everyone, no matter where they're originally from, lives pretty much the same way. Edge City continues to run in papers throughout the country, and a paperback collection was published in 2007.
LaBan's comics, cartoons, and humorous illustrations have appeared in a vast number of magazines and anthologies over the years, including Blab, Mad, Nickelodeon Magazine and Details. He works as a freelance illustrator and writer for various comic book companies, most notably DC Comics and the European behemoth Egmont, which publishes books featuring Disney characters. He wrote the Grendel Tales miniseries "The Devil May Care," and a number of miniseries for Vertigo, including the opening story arc of The Dreaming.
Of late, Laban has been running an original, full length graphic novel about Muktuk Wolfsbreath, a Hard-Boiled Siberian Shaman living in an unspecified past. Gods, spirits and demons are the usual case load for this Philip Marlowe of the Tundra. New episodes are posted Mondays and Thursdays at http://www.hardboiledshaman.com.
LaBan grew up in Michigan, spent much of the 1990s in Chicago, and now lives in Philadelphia with his wife and children. He is a dues-paying member of the National Cartoonists Society.
- International Bob. Fantagraphics, 1994. ISBN 978-1-56097-135-1
- Love's Not a Three-Dollar Fare: More Stories from Unsupervised Existence. Fantagraphics, 1995. ISBN 978-1-56097-165-8
- Eno and Plum: A Cud Comics Collection. Dark Horse, 1997. ISBN 978-1-56971-265-8
- Edge City: A Comic Strip Collection by Terry and Patty LaBan. Andrews McMeel, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7407-6356-4
- Spurgeon, Tom, "Happy 50th Birthday, Terry LaBan!" The Comics Reporter (July 19, 2011).
- LaBan, Terry. "Unsupervised Existence," Labanarama. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
- LaBan, Terry. "Cud," Labanarama. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
- Terry LaBan. "Cud Comics". Terry LaBan.
- Lambiek Comiclopedia
- Alex Dueben (6 June 2007). "Terry LaBan's Life on the "Edge"". Comic Book Resources.