Valentine’s Day (a.k.a. Cash 4 Hallmark Fund) is a week away, and to celebrate the holiday of love, let’s talk about a romantic comedy…with aliens!
Title: Trying Human
Author: Emy Bitner
Start Date: 2008
Genre: Romantic comedy, sci-fi
Update Schedule: Whenever
Trying Human involves the exploits of Area 51 over two generations which run parallel with each other. Starting in the 1940s, an alien spacecraft lands in Nevada, prompting an investigation and discovery of alien life and technology. One of the employees at the base, a military translator named Phillis, develops a relationship with EBE1–the surviving alien from the crash–much to the ire of her coworkers, who harbor a crush on her. Tensions heat up and Phillis winds up fatally shot, but she is kept alive using alien technology.
Fast-forward to the present day. A young receptionist named Rose sees a psychiatrist after suffering blackouts and nosebleeds. The psychiatrist uses hypnosis to recover one of her lost memories and she discovers that she is abducted by aliens on a regular basis. One of the aliens named Hue–a clone of EBE1 who is declared “defective” because he, unlike the others, can feel emotions–falls in love with Rose and tries to get her back following a failed abduction.
The relationships between all of these characters intertwine with an underground government conspiracy surrounding a group called the Majestic 12, whose job it is to monitor and cover-up alien activity on Earth which Rose’s boyfriend Roger has recently joined.
Recommended Age Group: 16 and up. It gets NSFW in some parts and there is occasional language and gore.
The writing is this comic’s greatest strength. The comic actually spans multiple subplots and characters (even more than my synopsis provides) and balances them all in a timely manner.
The artwork is also very strong. The flashbacks to the 1940s are deliberately sepia tone with occasional color motifs of red, while the present contains lots of shades of blue while also symbolically linking to the past with red.
The artist is also going back to the earliest chapters of her comic and redrawing them, making them more consistent with the current style that her art has evolved toward. Looking at both styles (you can compare them starting at Chapter 5 at the moment), even her older, rougher artwork looks very good.
The biggest problem with this comic is the pacing. Due to the comic’s sluggish update schedule and constant switching between the timelines, it becomes easy to forget what happened. Fun fact: When I was writing up this review, I had to reread the entire strip’s run over the span of a few hours and I saw some important details that I’d either missed or completely forgotten about since I first started reading the strip a couple of years ago. This strip is the easiest to follow when you’re marathoning it, but the slow updates may hinder your memory once you’ve caught up.
I give this comic a wholehearted recommendation. It’s one of the most fascinating stories about aliens I’ve read in a long time. I’d recommend just reading through the whole archive once, then rewind to the beginning and read each storyline in chronological order. I personally found it easier to follow after I tried it that way, but results may vary.