Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bughouse and Dog Boy: Steve Lafler's Legacy Collections from CO2

With the help of publisher CO2 Comics, I've realized a long held dream over the past two years with the publication of two legacy volumes collecting my two long running comic book series, Dog Boy and Bughouse. I've spent three decades pushing at the limits of the comics medium, challenging myself to create works that expand the range and possibilities of narrative art. I'm delighted that Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta of CO2 have collaborated with me to produce two spectacular volumes celebrating my contributions to the comics form thus far.

Back in 1981, I published my first comic magazine Mean Cat at the dawn of alternative comics. I thought myself happy to push this one comic book into the world, claiming my own small corner of comics immortality. Really, I knew better. I'm just as gung-ho now, some 32 years later, to produce outrageously great comics work and proselytize until I've won over the entire universe!

I worked furiously throughout the '80s on my Dog Boy series, ultimately producing a good 500 pages of comics. Along the way, Dog Boy #1 from Fantagraphics in December 1986 garnered orders of more than 10,000 copies, signaling the arrival of Dog Boy as a force to be reckoned with.

This past summer, CO2 put it all together in Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy, a 488 page collection. It's a walk through some of the best alternative comics of the day, delivered in a classic brush style with my singular improvisational narratives, sometimes psychedelic, at turns overtly political.

In the summer of 2012, CO2 published Menage a Bughouse, the 400 page collection of my Bughouse comics. Bughouse covers the career of the all insect band of the same name as they rise through the ranks, bringing Be-Bop jazz to life at the end of the swing era. The lead character Jimmy Watts is the avatar of the new style with his sublime tenor saxophone work, but struggles for survival as he battles addiction to "bug juice."
Bughouse began as a series on my own Cat-Head Comics imprint before moving to Top Shelf for a trilogy of graphic novels.

These two books promise an entertaining and unusual journey, delivering highlights from the fringe of three decades of alternative comics. No devotee of alternative and independent comics should miss these!

Ordering Links:

Menage a Bughouse

Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy

copyright 2013 Steve Lafler

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Night on the El Conjuro Terrace

By design, I'm a casual enthusiast of Mezcal, the distilled agave spirit at the center of Oaxacan culture. See, if I was a true devotee, I'd be in trouble. The best mezcal goes down too darn easy, smooth as silk with a bouquet of subtle flavors blossoming on the pallet. It's distilled in small batches in hundreds of country palenques (alembics?) by true artisans, each with their own ideas about how to pit-roast their agave and more. It's incredibly seductive stuff, created in an array of styles each with it's own signature taste, such as anejo, joven and tobalá.

The complete mezcal experience involves visits to country stills with knowledgeable guides such as Oaxaca resident Alvin Starkman. You can chat with the mezcalero as you sample their wares, and pick up a few bottles of delicious, top grade stuff for a low price.

Recent years have seen an alternative tasting experience cropping up--the Oaxaca centro (city center) has seen a spate of cozy mezcal tasting rooms and bars opening up, serving top quality mezcals. I recently attended a Dia De Muertos craft fare and chatted with the guy at the El Conjuro mezcal booth. He gave me a taste of a smooth, potent "Joven" style mezcal, along with a flyer for the El Conjuro mezcaleria on the terrace of Lokal, a new bar at Constitucion 207 in Oaxaca Centro.

My friend Carrie was visiting for Dia De Muertos, a fellow cartoonist who enjoys a tasty mezcal. Last friday evening, we headed to Lokal for a taste before checking out the Muertos holiday Comparsa in the Jalatlaco neighborhood (a sort of roving costume performance/parade/party with a Muertos theme.)

The entrance to Lokal is dramatically marked by a sculpture carved from a big dead tree stump on the sidewalk, executed in a cross between Oaxaca and Tiki style. You can't miss it! We tumble into the cozy interior and make our way up a steep stairway to the El Conjuro terrace. There is a little stage and seating on one side and a bar on the other. A great spot! Immediately I think, "My band should play here!"

El Conjuro Mezcaleria, Photo: Carrie McNinch

The barkeep Antonio greets us and he's the man, the El Conjuro expert. He explains the offerings to us, certainly too many artisan mezcals to sample in one visit! We taste a tobalá, a variety of mezcal made from wild agave. It's a generous pour for 35 pesos, not too shabby for something very unique and flavorful.

A trio of virtuoso musicians strike up a funky mix of Latin flavored R and B while we taste a couple more varieties, and they are even more delicious than the tobalá. Here is where I admit to being an amateur reporter, I did not write down the names of the other varieties. They were new to me; I'm not sure if they were obscure types of mezcal, or proprietary brand names created by the crafty El Conjuro marketing staff.

Carrie and Steve sample the El Conjuro

It's hard to describe their tastes. Carrie said it's like flowers. It is not perfumey however, it was more earthy than that. Suffice it to say, the art of the mezcalero was all there; the decisions in selecting and roasting the agave, the set up of the palenque (still) be it copper, clay or what-have-you, and the dozens of steps in their distilling process. It all adds up to a complicated, subtle mix of flavor and potent distilled spirits experience.

Reluctantly, we depart the El Conjuro terrace--after all, we don't want to miss the Jalatlaco Comparsa! And it's just as well, mezcal is delicious indeed, but it's a tricky buzz, floaty and mildly psychedelic. Fair to say a little bit goes a long way!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Art Workshops in Oaxaca

I just got word today about an exciting opportunity to study art in Oaxaca for winter 2014. Photographer Mari Seder and painter Humberto Batista are offering a workshop in photography, art and painting the first week of March.

Mari Seder is a celebrated photographer who divides her time between Worcester, Massachusetts and Oaxaca. She is a lecturer at the Worcester Art Museum.

Photo by Mari Seder

Humberto Batista was born in Mexico City and has lived in Oaxaca for three decades. He has established a reputation as a world class painter and collage artist.

Collage/painting by Humberto Batista

Both Mari and Humberto are steeped in the cultural heritage and contemporary artistic scene of the jewel-like city of Oaxaca.
I highly recommend the workshop with these master teachers who know Oaxacan art and culture inside out. It's a rare opportunity; not only to experience Oaxaca from insider eyes, but to expand your artistic horizons guided by the sure hands of Mari and Humberto.

Steve Lafler

Friday, October 11, 2013

T-Shirts & Comic Books Forever

I remain the self-employed Bohemian. Just can't help it. Here's an overview of current business and artistic endeavors.

Custom T-Shirt Printing

My main business is Manx Media Custom Screen Printing. With my colleague David Perkin pulling the prints in Portland, Oregon, we're ready to print your T Shirts and sportswear. I recent created an overview of our business practices and philosophy at my T-Shirt blog here. Drop in and see what we are up to.
Bughouse #1, 1994

Graphic Novels

My other obsession of course is crafting my singular graphic novels. Here is my catalog of graphic novels, T-Shirts and more. I'll be updating the catalog soon to include this years release, Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy.

Dog Boy #5, 1984
Steve Lafler
Email me

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Anarchists in the Boardroom Just Published

Earlier this year I did the cover for a book called Anarchists in the Boardroom by Liam Barrington-Bush. It's now available here.

Liam changed the color scheme a bit, but you get the idea.
I actually downloaded a make-up pallet to use as my color guide on this job! Whatever works, yes?

This was some corporations idea of what colors one should paint their face with this year. Or bookcover, in my case. Although I might favor that green or ochre next time I need some eye-shadow.

Steve Lafler

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dog Boy Photobombs Keith Richards

Yes folks, Dog Boy showed up at a recent Rolling Stones show, slipped onto Charlie's drum kit and totally photo-bombed Keith!

Actually, it's a 9" x 12" acrylic painting I just finished -- priced at $175, postage included.

I'm headed back to Oaxaca as of Aug 21st, so this particular work is available until Aug 20th.

Steve Lafler

Email Steve

Friday, August 02, 2013

Take My Dog, Please (Includes Free Original Sketch)

I'm offering the last dozen copies of Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy including an original sketch and free postage, see this link for details.

Once the stock on hand is gone, the book will still be available as a Print on Demand item from CO2 Comics, but will not include the original sketch.

The above is an acrylic painting I just made of the ol' Dog. Zip me an email if you'd like one for your walls (or your mother in law.)

Steve Lafler

Friday, July 19, 2013

A High-Low Look at my Comix Work

At this point it's fair the say that Rob Clough is the foremost writer on art comics. Under that general term, I group comics that are produced for the love of the medium, using it as a means of artistic expression (as opposed to a commercial genre vehicle.) Mr. Clough maintains his own on comics, High-Low, and also writes for the the Comics Journal.

Not only is Rob prolific, but he is enthusiastic, with a stunning, over-arching intellectual and intuitive command of his field. He is not only familiar with a huge body of books and artists, he diligently tracks new and emerging talent. He has the smarts to connect the dots and make articulate assessments of how a book works (or not) on it's own terms, but he also places it within the ongoing world of comics in particular and overall culture in general.

I was happily surprised this week to check in on Rob's comics review blog high-low to find reprinted reviews of my work in his ongoing Sequart Reprints series. Here are links:

Reviews of Bughouse Graphic Novels

Reviews of Tranny and 40 Hour Man

Rob closes his review of Bughouse,  my signature graphic novel series, asking if I will ever portray the main character, Jimmy Watts, as a mature adult who has worked through his demons. Could be, but in the meanwhile I offer this classic Scott Hoover photo of me from the early 90s. Why did I write about addiction in Bughouse? This photo offers a clue.

In all fairness, I should mention that I consider Rob a friend. He does like my work! We've only met in person a few times at SPX, but we are in semi-regular contact to our mutual enjoyment.

Finally, time for the brazen sales effort! Here is a link to the current Steve Lafler graphic novel catalog.

Steve Lafler photo by Scott Hoover.

Humberto Batista at Polanco Gallery in San Francisco July 26

Contemporary Oaxacan artist Humberto Batista shows painted collages at San Francisco's Polanco gallery from July 26 to August 30. The show opens July 26, 6 - 9 pm, at 393 Hayes St., San Francsico.

The works feature images from a variety of sources--ancient to classic images of Latin American architecture and culture, seamlessly combined with painted elements. Batista's sense of composition is dead on, drawing the eye into each work. His sure hand with the paint brush and luminous use of color create compelling dreamscapes. The viewer feels as if they're in a world they almost know, or perhaps yearned for, that is just beyond their grasp.

I've been fortunate to visit Humberto in his studio to view these singular works, take my word for it, they are spectacular. I don't have access to the collage images right now, so I'm doing the next best thing and putting some images of the artist's assemblage work into this post.

Photos: Mari Seder

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Complete Dog Boy is Here!

My long standing dream of publishing all of my Dog Boy comics in one volume comes true today!

Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy is a monster 488 page volume from publisher CO2 collecting my seminal indy/alt comix title. It's a deluxe oversized (8.5 x 11) volume packed with the preposterous antics of Dog Boy.

The best way to get your copy is to visit my Kickstarter page for Doggie Style and select the book at $38 (includes shipping and an original sketch on the title page.)

Click here to visit the Doggie Style Kickstarter.

You are also invited to the Doggie Style publishing bash at the Mercury Cafe (201 Octavia St., San Francisco) Thursday, July 25th at 7:00 p.m.

We'll kick things off with a performance by The Dick Nixon Experience. This will be Oaxacabilly music at it's finest with Scotty Hoover, Dave Cherry, Doyle Stewart, Jon Caploe, Jeff Hobbs and myself.

I'll have both paperback and hard cover editions of Doggie Style on hand. We are going to have a wicked good time!

Above is the cover of Dog Boy #10 from 1988. This image is reproduced in luminous blue ink on a black T-Shirt, one of the many rewards available at the Doggie Style Kickstarter project.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Bodega Boys, Revisited

Starting in September, 2008, Thurday nights would find me throwing my guitar in the back of my car to truck some ten miles out of Oaxaca City to the town of San Pablo Etla.

The destination was Casa Raab, a rambling country spread owned by ex-pat Tony Raab. Tony hosted a weekly music jam that encompassed the range of styles--Blue Grass, Country, Rock & Roll and Blues were all standard fare.

We'd set up and play by Tony's Bodega (workshop) in a remarkable setting. There is a stone patio with the building looping around it, creating near perfect acoustics. A few seats ring the patio, welcoming the audience into the fold. Trees spring up on all sides, framing the moon, the clouds and the night sky.

A ramshackle array of regulars and swashbuckling visiting musicians would pass through, from a steady supply of California lawyers who fancied themselves the second coming of Jerry Garcia, to Kim Burly, an actual Grammy winner from the Canadian group the Stampeders!

Tony would croon & strum, taking frequent breaks to top off everyone's mezcal, audience and players alike. We'd take turns leading tunes from an every evolving repetroire.

I was drafted into this singular weekly scene by one Todd Spiehler, a polymath musician who was equally at home on guitar, harmonica and mandolin. I could barely play when I first started in with "The Bodega Boys", but Todd had no problem with that and showed me the ropes. What a generous soul!
Tony Raab, photo by Jeff Charles

Tonight, it's Thursday night and I miss the Bodega Boys. It was never professional, and wasn't meant to be--just people standing up together to make some music and have a ball. It's where I learned to play in an ensemble, and more importantly, to listen to what's being played!

Tony has been working in the States mostly for the past two years. He drops in here and there and convenes  his magic jam with his good-natured hospitality, but mostly he's away. Across the street from Casa Raab, the Bodega Boys have continued at the home of master washtub bass player Bill Black. This man, in full swing on the washtub, is a sight to behold--a true artist, a beautiful human being and the heart and soul of the Bodega Boys. We are now the Pool Boys as it were, convening on a less frequent basis by Mr. Black's pool

So, the weekly Thursday session is no more. The pool sessions are infrequent. Indeed, the Bodega scene has attracted more and more expats who like to play a bit, and several local bands have sprung out of the weekly jam. Fine bands they are, playing here and there in Oaxaca, but the freewheeling mayhem and profound good cheer of those magic Thursday evenings seems to have passed us by.

This is all by way of introduction -- I'm linking to a piece here that I posted four years back, about a night with the Bodega Boys.

I think I captured a bit of the feel in the piece, do enjoy it!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jack Black Song - New Home

I've reposted the cartoon video for my song Jack Black here. It's produced and performed by my defunct band, Radio Insecto (Bill Stair and myself).
This tune is an homage to Mr. Black, but it also pokes fun at him for making some less than stellar flicks.


Steve Lafler

Friday, April 26, 2013

Electrical Heart Block:Try Taurine

I just posted a piece on my running blog about the amino acid supplement Taurine at this link.

I used it to mitigate an electrical heart block condition, and want to spread the good word on this.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Steve Lafler Paintings & Comic Art at Ebay

I've posted some original Dog Boy art and Bughouse acrylic paintings on auction at Ebay.

Click on the words Dog Boy or Bughouse to see the auction for that item.

Email me with questions, etc.

Steve Lafler

Friday, March 01, 2013

Dog Boy "Dogumentary"

I've put together a documentary short about Dog Boy, my 80s comic book series. Here is the link to the documentary video.

I had an ecstatic time writing, drawing and publishing Dog Boy, which enjoyed a 17 issue run from '83 to '88. The character also appeared in several stories in my 90s comics anthology Buzzard.

Dog Boy first appeared in my title Guts #3 in the summer of 1982. I was so taken with the character that I instantly decided create a comic magazine around him.

All this took place as the independent/alternative comics movement emerged. The revolutionary underground comics movement of the late '60s had stalled with the '73 Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, and mainstream comics were mired in their own small world, folding in on themselves. With the appearance of Seagate distributors and a handful of indy comics at the end of the 70s, the ground was seeded for dynamic change in the world of comic books.

Indeed there was a mini explosion of indy comics at the dawn of the 80s. There were profitable small press comics like Cerebus and Elfquest, along with the Comics Journal beating the drum for innovation. Comic specialty shops sprung up along with distributors to serve them like Bud Plant. Pacific Comics started publishing and distributing, going great for a few years before bombing out in a blaze of glory.

I published my first title, Mean Cat, in the spring of 1981 and sold 400 copies to Glenwood distributors, and another several hundred from my own frenzied marketing efforts, leaving no stone unturned. Mean Cat was favorably reviewed the Comics Journal along with another interesting self-publishing debut entitled Love and Rockets. Cat Yronwode also gave a thumbs up to Mean Cat, reviewing it for the Comics Buyers Guide.

Soon after the success of Mean Cat, I revived the idea of Dog Boy, who had first appeared on a poster for a rock and roll show/publishing event from March of 1980.

These days, Dog Boy enjoys a renaissance with weekly posts at the fantastic CO2 webcomics site, the brainchild of former Comico publishers Gerry Giovinc and Bill Cucinotta. Weekly posts can be read here. 

Steve Lafler

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Hey Portland, Manx Wants to Print Your T-Shirts

Manx Media screen prints custom T-Shirts in Portland, Oregon.

Here's the details at this link on the Manx Custom Screen Printing Blog.

David Perkin pulls the prints at the shop over in St. Johns in North Portland. I handle the pesky business details from my laptop in Oaxaca. Having been in the T-Shirt biz for a good while, we happily guarantee the quality of our product.

Call me at 503-213-3671 or zip me an email for a quote on your shirt printing job.

Steve Lafler, proprietor