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Trying Human is a science-fiction webcomic by Emy Bitner.

Rose Marie Williams is a secretary and filing clerk for a New York City police station. She frequently suffers from nosebleeds and what she thinks are episodes of sleepwalking, but actually, she has been being abducted by a group of aliens. One of the aliens, Hue, is not like the others. Also, he's smitten with her.

The story also follows Roger, Rose's on-again off-again boyfriend who winds up as the newest recruit to the Majestic 12, and Phillis, an Air Force translator in the 1940s whose mysterious connection with EBE1, the castaway alien (later Hue's genetic father) somehow resulted in her death.


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These tropes have been deemed classified:

  • Abusive Alien Parents: EBE1 towards Hue.
  • Action Girl: Pigment kicks ass and takes names. In the fight against Roger, it's her who does most of the kicking, while her partner, after dishing out the first hit, restricts himself to verbal lashing and looking cool.
  • The Ageless: Glasner is implied to have acquired this form of immortality through contact with alien technology, since he's been around since the 1940s and seemingly hasn't aged a day.
  • Alien Abduction: The Greys abduct humans for research. That's how Rose ( and Roger) ends up in the plot.
  • Alien Autopsy: Happened (off-page) in the forties storyline. Glasner also threatened EBE1 with it.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: For food, mainly.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: 6 has a thing for 8, who has a thing for Roger, who may or may not still have a thing for Rose. Also, Glasner (and every other guy in her storyline) lusts after Phillis, who's fairly disgusted with him.
  • Anime Hair: Human Tone.
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    • Justified as his chip has a glitch in it, causing his hair to appear like a "torch."
  • Arc Words: "Red" is important for as-of-yet undisclosed reasons. It's implied that it has to do with Shade, who has red eyes, or Rose, who has red hair.
    • The catatonic Phillis has red pupils. This appeared for the first time when EBE1 initiated their telepathic bond and seemed to become more frequent since then. Phillis also appears in a nightmare / vision of Hue with blank, completely red eyes.
    • When EBE1 joins Phillis in the base's chapel, one of the candles' flames turns red for no apparent reason.
    • Abigail's journal has red covers.
    • In every vision she appears to Rose, Phillis tells her something regarding "red", i. e. trying to sell her a red watch or showing her a red rose that fell out of its flower pot.
      Phillis: Every time a red cloud appears, I can't seem to keep the earth in my pot from falling into the darkness.
    • Rose's hair is shown to have been blonde, not red, when she was a child. This change is revealed to be due to her Nordic half. Like the Greys, their race is dying out, albeit much slower, so they edited their DNA so that their hair will grow out red if and when they're fertile. Rose's hair has been red since she turned 13, presumably when she had her first period, and has remained such ever since.
    • Upon meeting Rose, EBE1 asks her to "let him see her red".
  • Art Evolution: The difference between the early pages and the new pages is actually quite astounding, the artist has even begun to go back and redo the older chapters in her new style. A very impressive example can be seen here.
  • Artificial Human: 6 is explicitly called an engineered lifeform, but don't call him "half" anything.
    • All the current Greys are this, not just Hue. See Last of Their Kind.
  • Artificial Limbs: EBE1 has an artificial arm, made for him by Phillis. Notably, when Rose encounters Phillis or something resembling her on the spaceship, she says that she "makes arms" as an introduction.
  • Asshole Victim: Some pretty nasty stuff happens to Walter in the flashbacks such as getting pimp-slapped by EBE1 and injected with... green stuff by Dr Glasner — but honestly, he was kind of asking for it, taunting Glasner about his past or yelling at Philis in EBE1's presence.
  • As the Good Book Says...: A Bible verse is used as Flavor Text for the opening scene, and EBE1 later drops another verse to royally diss his son.
  • Battle Couple: We don't know just how romantic their relationship is, because the author won't tell, but Guinea and Pig function as one of these, rescuing and protecting the opressed together.
  • Beta, Gamma, Delta Couple: Phillis and EBE1 and possibly more depending on how things play out.
    • 8 and Roger might have something going on, Longus and Don definitely have.
      • And Quazky and Gracelis too.
  • Between My Legs: This page when 8 and Glasner have their extracurricular activities.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Guinea and Pig's introduction in chapter 19, where they kick Roger's ass six ways 'til Sunday, saving both Hue's and Quazky's lives.
  • Black Site: More than one. They're conveniently connected with a super fast alien-tech train.
  • Body Motifs: Eyes and eye symbolism are all over the place.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Dr. Glasner has a disturbing tendency to bully Greys. Who are telepathic and telekinetic, and, in case of EBE1 at least, not afraid to use it.
  • Chick Magnet: Non-canon examples but EBE1, 7, and Hue. With dashes of Even the Guys Want Him. In canon, Longus, ironically enough.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Rose gets one here.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The fact that Roger just happens to be hired by an organization dealing with aliens while Rose is abducted by those same aliens. Later revealed to not in fact be a coincidence, since both Roger and Rose were abducted and that automatically put Roger on the watch list of potential agents.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Roger becomes increasingly abusive and paranoid towards Rose.
  • Creator Cameo: More than once. Here are a few examples.
  • Creepy Cute: Hue (having bigger eyes than most Greys helps), and most noticeably, the Reptoids as a whole. They are human-eating lizard aliens, but have Cute Little Fangs and amusing dialogue that makes it hard to think they're creepy at all. Even Magnus manages a few humorous lines, usually targeted at Quazky.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Phillis appears to Rose ever again in visions and dreams; unfortunately, what she says mostly doesn't make much sense to Rose. The "Mothman" is purposefully cryptic.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: 3 (although in Chapter 18, it's revealed that the blonde hair is a wig).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rose, Quazky and EBE1.
    • Don't forget Guinea and Pig, whose very names show much propensity for Black Comedy snark.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The 1940s scenes eventually settled on appearing this way. With red details.
  • Ditto Aliens: the Greys are all physically identical other than eye color. Justified in that they've been genetically streamlined for deep-space travel and unique phenotypes were probably seen as superfluous and dropped from their genetic code.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The Reptoids, especially in the earlier comics. They have prehensile feet, so it makes sense.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In Chapter 1 guess who's sitting behind Roger on the plane?
  • Easter Egg: Phillis is hidden in several pages of the comic.
  • Emotionless Aliens: The Greys have emotions, but they're very different from human ones, and Hue is considered defective because he acts like a human. However, if anything, the other aliens are sometimes more emotional and expressive than the human characters.
  • Empty Eyes: when a grey is unconscious or dead, its eyes appear dull and reflectionless.
  • Energetic and Soft-Spoken Duo: Guinea is a chatty, quippy guy with a lot of panache who wears his heart on his sleeve and can't quite hide his anger when evil occurs. Pig is an Emotionless Girl who can only communicate telepathically and with no emotional inflection. They fight, well, injustice.
  • Eyes Out of Sight: The Majestic 12, except 6 and new 12 (Roger). Then again, when Roger is acting evil, shadows or his own hair hide his eyes, and when 8 is being friendly or vulnerable, her eyes peek out from behind her bangs. Generally, the hiddenness of the eyes seems to symbolise The Men in Black inhumanity.
  • Forceful Kiss: EBE1 has a message for Phillis. Unfortunately, only Rose is around to deliver it, so...
  • Face–Heel Turn: Roger seems to be undergoing one during the latest chapters, going from easy-going goofball fish out of water to almost sadistic glee at chasing down and hurting Hue, possibly justified slightly due to Hue not actually leaving Rose alone. And then he starts behaving increasingly paranoid and abusive towards Rose, culminating in slapping her hard across the face.
  • Fairy Godmother: Gracelis sort of fulfills this role for Hue, as she gets him the Trying Human device that he needs to look human and visit Rose. She also instructs Quazky to help Hue with wooing Rose, as she has noticed how lonely Hue is and wants him to have someone in his life who makes him happy.
  • Fake Memories: Standard issue for all the abductees. Some retain a vague sense of having been kidnapped, but the effect just won't take with Rose because she's a half-Nordic.
  • Fiery Redhead: Rose, at least when hanging around EBE1. Except her hair is dyed. Except it's not dye. It's due to her being Half-Nordic, their hair grows red while fertile. Rose's has been red since she was 13
  • Flashback B-Plot: The 1940's storyline, with sepia colouring and an occasional red detail.
  • Foil: The three Majestic 12's are foiling each other: the by-the-book Walter, the Defector from Decadence John and increasingly violent Roger. They're all ex-military or police (in Roger's case), thrust into the position of the MJ12 leader with no regard for their wishes, and uncomfortable with all the things going on in Area 51. While Walter, despite misgivings, is never shown disobeying orders, John hates how Greys are abused, forms a tight Interspecies Friendship (possibly romance) with one and finally escapes with her to go vigilante, and Roger needs little time to begin abusing and personally hating Greys.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Phillis is shot trying to escape from the base with a baby. The question is how she got there.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In the case of the Deep Underground Military Bases.
  • Goth: 7, with a hint of Ax-Crazy.
  • Great Offscreen War: Is why the Nordics are so rare and reclusive now - they were attacked by the Draconian Reptoids.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Roger, who's already rather stressed, reacts very violently when he sees his girlfriend with Hue. Bit of a Double Standard, really, as he has blatantly flirted with his colleague 3 (and possibly with 8) during the time he and Rose were apart.
  • The Greys: Hue and EBE1's race. Dour, described as creatures of rigid habits, reproduce by cloning. Also a Dying Race that's trying its hardest to preserve at least some of their legacy.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: It's confirmed that 6 is a lab-built Grey-human hybrid, though he vehemently denies being "half"-anything.
    • It seems Rose also is one — her mother is a Nordic.
    • Ovni, created from Guinea and Pig's genes.
  • Handshake Refusal: Seems to be a Reptoid thing — Longus declines a handshake with Roger, Quazky with Don. In Quazky's case, it may be him not understanding human customs, but Longus has lived on Earth among humans for a long time and seems seriously put off by the idea of shaking Roger's hand.
  • Hands Off My Fluffy!: Rose standing up to EBE1 in Hue's defense.
  • Herr Doktor: The German Vernon Glasner, who used to be in the Nazi party (willingly) and remains a Mad Scientist.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Abigail wrote her diary in English to keep Glasner from reading it. He learned later and read it after her death. Also, Gracelis and Quazky argue in their native language to keep Rose out of the fight.
  • Hugh Mann: None of the real humans running around seem to notice that Trying Human circuits don't actually work all that well. 7-foot-tall albinos? Normal! Guys with greenish skin, yellow-and-red slit pupil eyes, fangs, claws, forked tongues, and strangely spiky hairstyles, who demonstrate the ability to jump outrageous distances? Nothing to see here!
  • I Choose to Stay: In chapter 23 EBE1 gets a chance to go back to his people, but decides to stay with Phyllis.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Glasner (coldly and sinisterly) towards Phillis, Roger (hotly and abusively) towards Rose.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Since the 1940's, there's the idea to use Grey technology to build a US-own spaceship on Area 51, but the acquired tech knowledge of several races is also used in other ways, for example the hyper-speed subway that Majestic uses for travelling.
  • Innocent Aliens: In contrast to the Greys who abduct humans for painful experiments and the Reptoids who hunt, kill and eat humans, the Nordics' worst traits seems to be their vanity and obnoxiousness and they seemingly have only good intentions for humanity.
  • In-Series Nickname: EBE1 always refers to Phillis as "Philena", a contraction of her first name and her last name, "Lennox."
    • The "Philena, queen of the moon" implies some mythological association he's having.
    • Also, Guinea and Pig, to the point Rose is confused when she hears Pig referring to her partner by his actual name, John.
  • Interspecies Friendship:
    • Hue and Quazky.
    • 8 and 6, although he might be thinking of her more in terms of Interspecies Romance. He's rather sweet towards her (buying her that picture frame was adorable), although she's been assigned to him more as a handler/caretaker and words "mothering skills" were used. But she does seem to trust 6 above everyone else.
  • Interspecies Romance: All over the place, in many different flavours.
    • Grey EBE1 and human Phillis definitely had something going on, though the exact nature of their relationship is still a bit unclear.
    • Hue is in love with Rose, and recently, it seems she has begun reciprocating. Hue is a Grey, Rose half Nordic, half human.
    • Guinea and Pig, human and Grey respectively, have either this or a profound Interspecies Friendship. They have a child together, although this was done without either's consent, and Guinea didn't even know Glasner used his genes to impregnate Pig until the baby was born. But they took the kid with them, escaping, and raise him together.
    • Longus, a Terran Reptoid, and Don, a human teenager.
    • Quazky and Gracelis, since he's a Terran Reptoid and she's Draconian. They too have a kid together, but have left him in terran jungle to fend for himself, because this sort of thing is strictly forbidden.
    • Rose herself is a product of a rather one-sided one. Her Nordic mother doesn't seem to care a lot for her human father. He pined after she left to the point of drinking himself to death.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Greys use a type of memory altering that lets the abductee fill in the blanks as to what happened to them.
  • Last of Their Kind: The Greys' home planet burned up in one of its two suns. EBE1 was born/created shortly before it happened as a prototype form for deep space travel. The original Greys were much more expressive and colorful.
  • Lizard Folk: Two species on them, one of which is actually bred from Earth Troodon. And has prehensile tongues.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Dr. Glasner, though it's debatable how sane he was to begin with.
  • Mad Scientist: Glasner is... lower in decibels than most, but he is quite insane. Exhibit A: an Only Mostly Dead woman in a glass tank .
  • Mars Needs Women: Hue's attraction to Rose parallels EBE1's attraction to Phillis.
    • A lot of aliens in this series seem to be partial to humans, as well.
  • The Men in Black: Majestic 12, not that Roger knew when he signed up.
  • Mercy Kill: In Guinea's chapter 24 flashback, he kills a Grey that was being casually used for target practice by the Majestic 12. He's very, very angry about that.
  • Mind over Matter: The Greys. They can also make walls and other objects temporarily intangible.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Longus. Seriously, lizard men were NEVER meant to be that sexy.
  • Ms. Fanservice: 8 is The Tease expert, especially towards Roger. It used to be her job.
  • My Card: Guinea (the AWOL agent formerly known as 12) and Pig (his grey companion Pigment) have these. Guinea gives one to Hue who can't read English in case he needed more of their badassery in the future.
  • Never Learned to Read: Hue, because his people have (somehow) lost language and don't use writing (it remains an open question what the purple symbols on their metal are). Rose offers to teach him. Pigment is shown to have knitting magazines in her and John's flat, so presumably he taught her.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Averted, although not very clear. It is more evident in this image
  • No Sense of Personal Space: 8, repeatedly and not just to Roger.
  • No Such Agency: The Majestic 12 is so secret they don't even use personal names (unless talking about someone who's already left the service). And don't tell the prospective recruits they're going to be shipped off to a top secret instalation in the middle of nowhere, completely incommunicado, say bye-bye to your loved ones forever, you're a Man (or Woman) in Black now. Wear your shades.
  • Older Than They Look: Besides Glasner, The Greys don't really seem to age — Pigment first came to Earth about thirty years before the present day plot started and she looks the same. EBE1 is probably older than she is and hasn't aged a day, either, since the 1940's.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Despite being shot in the opening scene, Phillis is still somehow alive and conscious in the modern day, albeit imprisoned in a jar by Dr. Glasner (see below).
  • Painting the Medium: Telepathic "speech" bubbles are black with white lettering (occasionally also font effects and the word "red" appearing in red).
  • People Jars: Glasner keeps Phillis' body in one.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: When Dr. Glasner and the commanders of Area 51 suggest that EBE1 will be euthanized due to his hostile behavior, Phillis pleads with Glasner, saying she'll do anything to stop this. Glasner ominously repeats "anything", then concedes to her wish. Whether or not her current condition is the price she had to pay is yet to be seen.
  • Perpetual Frowner: All the Greys, save Hue, have a permanent little frown and only really change expression to show surprise at sudden contact.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: 8 dreams of the events from the prologue, with herself and Travis in place of Phyllis and her baby. There's also the self-called "Mothman" who gives Rose some cryptic hints about the future (part of which already happened), then says he needs to sleep and get some more visions. Rose gets very odd, very symbolic dreams, often featuring Phillis.
  • Psychic Link: EBE1 develops one with Phillis. It transmits pain, and with it, even physical injuries.
  • Punny Name: Guinea and Pig escaped Area 51 after Glasner used them for a particularly vile experiment — it involved making a Half-Human Hybrid out of their genes (without as much as by-your-leave) and inflicting a Wound That Will Not Heal on Pigment.
Quizzical Tilt: One of the only outward displays of emotion used by normal Greys.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shade delivers a devastating one to Fatima when she gives her reasons for abandoning her daughter:
    Shade: When EBE1 brought [Hue] to me, I was a mother. When you left for your home and I came to take Rose every month after that, I was a mother. I continue to mother hybrids that die endlessly, never finding a foothold in this world. I will continue to mother until I am successful. Will you?
  • Removed from the Picture: Rose's mom has been ripped out of a family photo. Which she did herself, to hide from her daughter that she's indeed a Nordic.
  • Rescue Romance: 8 seems to be trying to induce this with Roger, since he helped her out years ago, and says that she was the one who recommended him for the job. It's not really working.
    • Though it's not their first meeting, Longus rescues Don from a couple of thugs, which kickstarts their relationship.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: EBE1 is a survivor of a Roswell or Roswell-like event. His shipmates got killed in the crash.
  • Sanity Slippage: It seems Roger is cracking under the strain of his new MIB job... He turns paranoid, violent and the Creepy Shadowed Undereyes he develops only serve to reinforce this.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Guinea and Pig both sport these — he gets a classy red silk one, she has a pale yellow one over twice as long as she's tall.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Dr. Glasner has these occasionally.
  • Sex Dressed: 8 here, and Dr. Glasner a few pages later (note the unbuttoned shirt and lipstick stain).
  • Sexy Priest: EBE1 first appeared to Phyllis as a Catholic priest, and years later takes this form again to persuade her to follow him into space. He's described as looking old, but Phyllis clearly finds him attractive enough to kiss.
  • Spicy Latina: 8, judging by her last name and use of Spanish in a flashback, and she's more than willing to use her sexuality to get her way. In fact, she used to be a streetwalker.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Longus had apparently taken to "keeping an eye" on Don whenever he was off work.
    • Hue also fits the description. Abducting Rose in her sleep when it's not her turn to be taken, showing up at her apartment uninvited... though the surroundings he's grown up in have abductions as a daily porcedure, and he cannot possibly know human social norms.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Walter's attitude towards Phillis, though it fits with the 1940s setting.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Rose to Phillis, despite the former being redheaded and the latter being blonde. EBE1 has noticed.
    • In her childhood picture (and one dream sequence), Rose is blonde... This is because she's half Nordic. The race as a whole edited their DNA so any newly grown hair is red while fertile, and once this period ends, new hair becomes blonde again, leaving patches of red years later. Being half human, Rose has been able to have kids since she was 13 so her hair continuously grows red and will likely revert to blonde when she hits menopause.
  • Taking the Bullet: Rose for Hue, here , although it's actually a stunner.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: The Greys, very much (they've lost the use of their mouths). Later we learn they don't even have language, can't read or write and communicate with others by "reflecting on their minds" (which is how Pig speaks French to MJ12).Reptoids, to smaller extent, and the Nordics as well.
  • Theme Naming: The Greys are named Hue, Shade, Tone, and Pigment. Only EBE1 doesn't fit this pattern, but it's because his "name" is actually a designation given to him by the U.S. Government (his real name hasn't been revealed).
    • According to Glasner, the practice of using names is a foreign concept to the Greys, so presumably their common names were also given to them by humans. (Shade is also referred to as EBE3 in one scene.)
    • Barring Quazky, all the Reptoids are named after (human) muscles or muscle groups.
  • Tin Man: The Greys. Even more apparent when they use the Trying Human units.
    • Exemplified with EBE1. Tranquil Fury doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • To Serve Man: The Reptoids in general eat human and animal flesh alike, though they have varying attitudes about this. Magnus considers eating livestock instead of humans unsatisfying, while Longus honestly prefers pig and has never killed a human himself - he has eaten humans when they were dead and dished to him, but meanwhile, having lived twenty-something years among humans on earth, he finds it weird to regard them as food.
  • Triang Relations: Phillis, Walter and Glasner appear to be in a Type 3, while Phillis seems to at least partially reciprocate Walter's feelings. 8, Roger and Rose are in a Type 4, though 8 clearly wants to change Roger's mind about that. Meanwhile, 6, 8, and Roger are in a Type 5, with 6 at the A point.
    • Rose, Roger and Hue are in what appears to be a complicated Type 7; Roger and Rose each think of the other as their giflfriend/boyfriend even though they haven't been in touch lately, while Hue is smitten with Rose and she's beginning to feel the same way about him even if she doesn't realize it.
  • Title Drop: The Trying Human circuit that allows aliens to mimic humans.
  • Uncanny Valley: Besides the fact that they are kidnapping people for experiments, this is why Rose is afraid of Shade and Tone. Hue is much less uncanny to her, because he shows emotions and has a wider range of facial expressions.
  • Verbal Tic Name: Mum.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 17:
    • Phillis has a telepathically-induced freakout when Glasner stabs EBE1's prosthetic hand with a scalpel to demonstrate that it can feel pain.
    • Longus shows Don what he really is.
    • Roger discovers that Hue has been spending time with Rose, and shoots him (non-fatally) in a jealous rage.
    • Shade wipes Rose's memories of her alien encounters, and reveals to Hue that his own memories of earlier encounters with Rose had been erased.
      • There's also chapter 19, where Roger goes off the deep end, trying to murder Hue and Quazky just because he has seen them near Rose's apartment and then going home to slap Rose hard across the face.
  • Yandere: 8 seems to be shaping up to be this, and even recommended Roger for the job to get close to him.
    • Roger also shows shades of this when he finally gets to see Rose again, given that he ends up shooting Hue and becoming obsessively hostile towards him, Quazky, and other aliens (especially Greys) that get anywhere near Rose. Granted, it could be due to his workplace, but especially in Chapter 17, these actions do show some Yandere-esque motivations.
  • You Are Number 6: The Majestic 12 are assigned numbers... and Roger's not at all happy about it.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Even when Rose joins an "alien abductee" support group, her story is seen as far-fetched.
    • When Rose tells EBE1 she's been seeing Phillis all over the place. Not surprisingly, he thinks the experiments have made her loony.

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