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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 7
Rubber Duck 1 _ Rubber Duck 2
Rubber Duck Tales #1
Rubber Duck #2
Rubber Duck

1971-1972 / The Print Mint
In the golden age of underground comix, The Print Mint published a bunch of undergrounds, many of them among the best of all time (e.g., Deviant Slice, Feds 'n' Heads, Uneeda Comix, Young Lust). A few are overlooked classics (Occult Laff Parade, Captain Guts, Tales of Toad, Real Pulp), while a few are mostly crap (Suds, The Captain, Savage Humor). And some are just solid undergrounds that are representative of the era, a category that would include Rubber Duck #1. What is a bit surprising is that the second issue, even with its goofy front cover art, earns its place amongst the overlooked classics.

Rubber Duck (the first issue was called Rubber Duck Tales) features the work of two men, one of whom enjoyed a decent little career in comics and the other who left the comic-book industry soon after producing these books. Michael J. Becker and Robbie Landeros did not collaborate on any of the stories for these comics, but their work does seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Now, in case you came to this page from a site search on "J. Michael Leonard," I should mention that J. Michael Leonard and Michael J. Becker are two different people. The former did Star Weevils and Fresh Blood in the late '70s, while the latter did these two books here in '71 and '72, Softcore in '73, as well as later appearances in Slow Death, and Brain Fantasy among others.

Robbie Landeros also has potential identity issues, as he calls himself Robbie Lawso in the first issue of the Rubber Duck series, presumably to conceal his true identity. But he became Robbie Landeros in the second issue and permanently transitioned to Rob Landeros when he produced Softcore with Becker. After Softcore, Landeros got out of doing comics altogether and went on to build a noteworthy career in the computer gaming industry. He now runs a successful graphic design company in Medford, Oregon.

The first issue of Rubber Duck is a little more amateurish than the second, but they both showcase two comic creators who were, if nothing else, underground in spirit and patient with their craft. The rubber duck theme occasionally makes its way into the comics, more often and most obviously in the first issue with "Famous Rubber Ducks of the Past." But for the most part the rubber duck device disappears by the second issue.

While Robbie Landeros' work was clearly inspired by Robert Crumb, it's a shame he didn't continue working in comics longer than he did. After honing his illustration skills in the first issue, he really comes on in the second and contributes two outstanding, hilarious, and righteously offensive stories worthy of any underground anthology. I'm sure Landeros has had a marvelous career in the gaming and graphic design trades, but we could've used another one like him in comics.

Michael J. Becker was no slouch, either, especially as he builds towards the epic political thriller "Shit List" in the second issue. Becker continued to improve as a comics creator and went on to produce some excellent comics for various anthologies, including one of my favorites, "The Bang Gang" for Softcore.