Thursday, December 06, 2012

BENB T-Shirt Returns

I've added a Benb T-Shirt to my online shop at Cafe Press.


Benb was the inadvertent star of my college daily comic strip Aluminum Foil, featured in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian from 1976 to 1979.

He always smiles, never talks and is an incredible bumbler who somehow always comes up smelling like a rose.

You can order the Benb T-Shirt from my Cafe Press T-Shirt shop starting at $17.99.

Steve Lafler



Friday, November 30, 2012

Digital Environment

what can be done in the mobile environment
Boomers and X's are ready for retirement
Kids today are making digital tools
Old duffs checkin' websites
that goes good with gruel
 Mobile tools are de riguer
Old school home page
is past for sure
rich media buzz word
stuck in your head
chase in your dream
once you're in bed

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Buy or Die! Holiday Catalog

I've created a killer catalog of my graphic novels and T-Shirts for the Holiday Shopping Season. Click on the art below to start shopping.
Happy Holidays,
Steve


Monday, October 29, 2012

Geeks of Doom Reviews Bughouse

 The cover of Bughouse #1 from 1994, which is not part of Menage a Bughouse.

A comic review site called Geeks of Doom gave my 2012 collection Menage a Bughouse a thumbs up review.

While the new book is not exactly breaking any sales records, it's certainly garnering some good press!

You can buy Menage a Bughouse here. Can't think of a better holiday gift, an entire world you can fall into for a few days for a mere $24.99!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Self Employment & Entrepreneurial Tips

I've compiled a list of links to recent pieces I've penned on the entrepreneurial life.

Topics covered include guerrilla marketing, mobile advertising, and financing your small business.

Enjoy!

Steve Lafler

If I can get paid to do this, then I'm doing something right!
Photo of Bill Stair and Steve Lafler by Jeff Charles

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Self Employment and Social Security

Social Security benefits are available to owners and workers in the small-business sector. Self-employed sole proprietors are required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes in addition to federal tax on their income. Sole proprietors file Schedule SE, Self Employment Tax as part of their annual federal tax return, paying into the Social Security and Medicare systems. Both incorporated and sole proprietor-owned small businesses use IRS form 941 for paying payroll and Social Security taxes for their employees, but in this case the Social Security tax is based on payroll amounts rather than business income.

Sole Proprietors

Sole proprietors file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business along with their form 1040 each year with the IRS. Business income and expenses are reconciled on Schedule C to calculate net profit for the year. The net profit is entered on Schedule SE. The sole proprietor figures out their self employment tax using this form. This tax consists of Social Security and Medicare taxes for those who run businesses as sole proprietors.

Schedule SE

Sole Proprietors earning more than $400 annually in net earnings from their business as figured on Schedule C must file the Schedule SE. Church employees who had income of $108.28 or more must also file Schedule SE. Self employed individuals receiving social security or medicare are required to file a Schedule SE regardless of age.

Self Employment Tax Deduction

Self employed sole proprietors can deduct a portion of their self employment tax on form 1040 in calculating their adjusted gross income. The deduction is equivalent to an employer contribution to social security that regular payroll employees are entitled to. The deduction affects only income tax, not self employment earnings or tax. The self employed are also eligible to take a deduction for health insurance costs. The instructions for form 1040 and schedule SE include information on claiming this deduction.


A Self Employed T-Shirt Geek

Self Employment Tax Rate

The Self Employment Tax Rate for 2011 and 2012 is 13.3 percent, with just over ten percent of it earmarked for social security. Income earned after $106,800 is not subject to the social security tax. The rate of self employment tax is subject to acts of congress and can change.

Form 941

Small business employers use IRS form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return to remit payroll taxes to the IRS. They report and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes along with federal income tax withheld.
The brilliant Jim Woodring gave my new graphic novel collection Menage a Bughouse a very nice recommendation on Boing Boing a few days back.

The post got some nice bounce in the comics industry news, with Heidi MacDonald giving it some play in The Beat and Tom Spurgeon providing a link on his excellent Comics Reporter site.

You can order Menage a Bughouse from the publisher here.

Thanks Jim!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monster Lafler Halloween T-Shirts


It's just about my favorite time of the year--HALLOWEEN! What better time to stock up on some B-A-D monter T-shirts.!?

I'm offering shirts with Frankenjerry (Frankenstein plays Jerry Garcia's tiger guitar) and a Rockabilly Wolfman slammin' on his hollow body Gretsch. I've also been told that this particular Frankenmonster looks like Lou Reed.

Click here to hit the T-Shirt shop.


Have a terrifying Halloween!

Steve

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How To Start a Custom T-Shirt Printing Business

This is an updated version of this article I first ran a few years back. Now, as then, I think a custom T-Shirt printing business is a great small business. Who doesn't wear T-shirts? It's a multi-billion dollar business that can be tapped into with a commitment to hard work, quality and attention to detail. Here we go:
In these times of economic uncertainty, there are lots of unemployed people with little prospect for getting a job, and plenty of young people starting out in similar straights. The current economic mess is pretty rotten, but I believe it is possible to start a successful T Shirt printing business in times like these, because I did it myself!
When I graduated college in 1980, we were in the midst of a deepening recession. It was a cyclical downturn, not as bad as today, but wait! I was living in Eugene, Oregon. The lumber industry was really in the dumps, making the Eugene economy really dreadful. Unable to find work, I began freelancing T Shirt jobs while searching for a more secure position. When I sold my first shirt job, I simply got a down payment from the client to buy the blank shirts with, and I was off and running (lucky for me, it was an easy one color print!). Here we are 32 years and several economic downturns later. Sure I did great in the boom times, but my T Shirt printing business always put burritos on the table in the down cycles too.

 We printed this Robot design for Sarah's Science
If you have a garage, basement or spare room you can use, you're ready to go. We'll look at screen printing 101 in a minute. First, I will make a radical claim. After investing just a couple to a few hundred bucks in basic tools and equipment, you will be ready to print your first job. I believe a profit can be made from the get go in the Custom Screen Printing business. I direct your attention to my blog entry, The Zero Overhead Model for a description of my business model. Be sure to take a peek also at The Win – Win Deal, a sort of philosophical underpinning to how I conduct my business relationships.
A business is nothing but a web of relationships. I have a business because I have healthy relationships with my clients. They talk, I listen. Sure, you should do lots of marketing, study the various techniques and theories, but I guarantee if you circulate and talk up your business day in, day out, you will attract clients. Be sure to pass out business cards left and right!

I recommend studying the book Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. He's developed a philosophy of small business marketing based on creating and maintaining good client relationships.

Here is a sampling of marketing techniques that helped me build a clientele. First, figure out who you want to print shirts for. Call them, write them, drop in and pitch them. In the spring of 1981, I approached the EMU Cultural Forum at the University of Oregon in Eugene and told them I wanted to print their T-Shirts. They sponsored concerts on campus. We hit it off, and I went on to print shirts for them for a great sting of shows including the Ramones, Frank Zappa, Iggy Pop and Willie Nelson.

Another marketing technique that works is direct mail postcards. Design a postcard announcing that you print T-Shirts. Tell the reader to call or email you (include a call to action). Create a mailing list of companies, schools, bands, bars, restaurants, etc., that you would like to print for. Mail a new bunch of cards at least four times per year.

Start a Google Adwords account. Create a short ad and select keywords to target your prospects. Choose the city or town where you want your ads to appear. Google plunks your ad into search results and on webpages. You pay only when a prospect clicks on your ad and lands on your website. You control the budget by setting cost per click and daily maximum budget.

Consider using the mobile advertising functions of Google Adwords and Facebook advertising. Mobile is growing very fast as of 2012. Half of U.S. adults have smartphones and they expect marketers to create interesting advertising experiences in the mobile environment.

Now let's dig into the screen printing overview. Whether you are an out of work fancy pants graphic designer or a DIY punk rocker, one of the best small scale entrepreneurial businesses to start is a T-Shirt printing business. The initial investment can be modest, and a profit can be realized quickly with proper care to details. A screen print on a T-Shirt looks great – screen printing ink is bright and dynamic. I'll mention ink jet printing and digital imaging later, but the thrust of this piece is screen printing (a.k.a. Silkscreen).

Here is a list of materials you will need for your first project: Wood (or metal) frame stretched with screen mesh, piece of foam rubber to fit inside frame for exposure process, screen printing ink (Union water base in is good to start with, or Speedball brand can be found in some art supply stores), squeegee, light sensitive emulsion, Light source (a halide work light is good), glass 1/4" thick, weights to hold the glass down on the frame, and your design on transparency or film positive (the design should be positive, not negative on the transparency). Oh, and T Shirts to print on.


A well stocked art supply store can sell you all the basic screen print materials listed above. It is recommended to comparison shop, as the prices may vary dramatically. Also check with your local industrial screen print supplier (under “screen printing/supplies” in the yellow pages or online). If you are serious about setting up a shop, you want to buy from an industrial supplier like Midwest Sign and Screen.

Here are the steps to produce your first screen print project. Clean your stretched frame with mild soap, rinse and let dry for at least an hour. Coat the screen with light sensitive emulsion (check instructions for mixing sensitizer into emulsion). Coat both sides then scrape away excess emulsion. Let dry overnight. If you didn't buy a pre-stretched screen, you will need to put your screen fabric on the wooden frame, so taut that you can bounce a coin on it. You can use a staple gun, but take care not to rip the screen mesh with the staples.

Put your art/design on a transparency. Print the design on vellum or other heavy transparent paper on a laser printer. Inkjet printers often do not create an opaque enough image for burning a screen. Warning: Some laser printers are too hot, and will melt vellum!!! I successfully used a HP laserjet for years to create transparencies. It was necessary to use the HP brand cartridges; the generic/refilled ones did not make a dark enough film to successfully burn a screen. You can also send your graphic file to a film output service bureau for your film positive.

Burning the screen: SEE DIAGRAM three paragraphs back. You need to do this step in the dark. I used Ulano Fotocoat TZ, an emulsion you can use in low light. Check the instructions for your emulsion. Put your foam rubber on the floor or a table. Put your coated screen frame over it on the inside side of the frame (leaving the flat side of the frame pointing up). Put your transparency upside down on top of the screen. Put your piece of glass over the transparency, and weight it at the edges with books or some other heavy objects. If you have ink cans, they will do fine because they are heavy. Hang your light source about 18” above your screen and turn on for recommended exposure time. Develop with warm water. Spray the screen until the image area is free of emulsion. If your screen doesn't develop, use more water pressure. Blot both sides with newspaper when done developing, to remove excess emulsion. If your emulsion comes off too easily, ruining your image, increase your exposure time. For years I used a tanning bulb to burn screens, it had the power necessary to burn a fine screen, including halftone dots! Later I used two halide work lights, those suckers are pretty hot so use caution!
Let the screen dry. Put over T Shirt and add ink to one side of the screen, creating an “ink reservoir”. Holding the screen frame down firmly, pull 2 – 3 strokes and lift to check your print. Clean screen immediately when finished. You can do multiple prints. If your print smudges, try a finer screen mesh. If insufficient ink gets on the T Shirt, use thinner ink or a more open screen mesh. I used to print one color jobs in my dorm room with no press, just the screen frame and a squeegee, it kept me in beer money and date money when I was an undergraduate.
A word about inks, for years I used a homemade press and waterbase inks (Union brand is good). Most commercial T Shirts are printed with plastisol, a plastic base ink. You will need a dryer to cure plastisol. I recommend an entry level spot dryer, it maybe runs 5 – 600 bucks. Shop around. I was in the biz for a decade before I got one! If your business takes off, you will eventually want a spot dryer and a conveyor dryer.
Injets and digital technology. Yes, you can print backwards on “T shirt transfer paper” with an inkjet printer and iron the design on a shirt. It's a cool way to go for short run, full color. Also, there are now machines from that do digital imaging direct on shirts. They are great machines but start at 15K or so, we are talking serious capital. Sure, I want one, but it just ain't in the cards for me at present. By contrast, my 6 color, 6 station Workhorse manual printer was a marvel, and it cost only $3600.00 brand new. Paid for itself in a couple months, and it's still running today 13 years later in my buddy David's shop.
This next diagram is for a home made three color T-Shir press. It's made from 3/4" plywood, masonite, screws, nails, sawhorses, and screen frame clamps. It's funky, but you can print tight register three color jobs on this rig with practice. You may want to sell only 1 color jobs until your level of craft improves, and you can confidently handle multi-color work.

So let's build a press—start with a 4' X 4' piece of 3/4” thick plywood. Cut the shirtboard area away with a jigsaw. This is a lot of jigsawing, start with a fresh blade. The channels should be 2.5 – 3”. The indents at the back of the shirt board are for the material at the bottom of the T Shirt to to fall as to not interfere with the print. Round the corners at the front of the shirt board so as not to catch the shirts as you load them onto the press. Run a 3' long piece of 2” X 2” under the shirt board /press table for support. Bevel the front of the support board, cutting it at a 45 degree angle so it doesn't catch shirts as you load them on the press.
Top the shirt board area with a piece of 1/4” masonite or pressed board to create a smooth printing surface. Nail down with brads at the edges, out of the live print area. Buy 3 sets of screen clamps from a screen print supply house and mount them on 1/4” masonite too, so they are at the same level as the shirt board area. With this homemade press, you will be making your own screen frames to fit the peculiar size of the press. Painting stretcher bars work pretty good, or just buy 1” x 2” or 2” x 2” wood to make your frames.
There are many fine rotary manual presses for T Shirt printing available, both new and used. I recommend searching for used presses, dryers, shirts and equipment. Ask to test/demo any used press or dryer before buying! Inspect it carefully for functionality and wear. Workhorse is a good brand for new manual presses. Ranar has decent conveyor dryers at a good price. Remember too, all the suppliers want to sell you as much stuff as they can. It's fun to get all the latest gear and equipment, but experience tells me that a profitable shop buys only what it needs to produce the work it has.
A note about pricing jobs. I started out as a hungry student who needed to learn how to make a decent print, so naturally I came in at the low end of the price scale in the shirt biz. Once I got the quality thing down, I charged a higher than average fee. There is always a market for quality. Most buyers are looking to push your price down, especially after years of low cost Walmart stuff from China!
Don't work cheap, it will just piss you off. Talk to people in the field to see what the going rates are. A screen printing press should generate at the very least $60 per production hour for a small scale shop, $100 is do-able per press per production hour in an experienced small shop. If you can put together 10 - 20 production hours per week you will be fine. There are lots of other business tasks to eat up the rest of your time, believe me.

Good Luck! Remember that it will take some time to build a client base, so work hard, be patient, and maybe keep a part time job in your back pocket while you build your shop.

Steve Lafler

Manx Media Custom Screen Printing
503-213-3671
We want to quote on your custom screen printing job. Email Steve with your job specs for a price.
Copyright 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

What the Heck is the Hypernet? Who Are These Dudes?

I just ran across something called Roger and Mike's Hypernet blog. These guys posit that the internet is so, like, last week's news. Now, it's all about the "hypernet", the version of the web where all those mobile units like smartphones and tablets go to play.

Roger McNamee and Mike Maples

And they're right. I've been writing a bunch of articles recently about mobile advertising and marketing for a well-known SEO content mill. I can tell you that there are more cell phones in the U.S. than people. And, the estimates for the number of smartphones runs about half of all adults, depending on who's survey you believe. Tablets are multiplying like rabbits too!

It started for me yesterday when I saw Roger on a Bloomberg video interview, imploring us to forget about Google and Microsoft, as they are being made irrelevant by the onward (very quick) march of mobile technology.

Old Roger was very jolly indeed, as he quipped, "we're all making tools now, not websites". Yup, he's talking about mobile apps.

Me, I'm playing catchup -- I have yet to purchase a smartphone! However, I have embraced the mobile advertising options available to me. I use both Google Adwords and Facebook advertising to promote my custom screen printing business. These cost effective targeted advertising services reach mobile users as well as web searchers. And yes, mobile advertising is growing faster than web search based advertising.

Steve Lafler
Manx Media Custom T-Shirt Printing
Call or email for a quote on your wholesale T-Shirt job.
503-213-3671

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Mobile Marketing for T-Shirt Printers

There are now more mobile phones than people in the United States, with Smartphones in the hands of more than 50% of mobile users. I've been looking at articles from the NY Times, Forbes and Inc, and they all report that mobile advertising and marketing is growing, uh, wicked fast.

I'm no expert on mobile marketing, but clearly it's time for custom T-Shirt printers (hey, that's me!) to add mobile to our marketing mix.

How are we gonna do that? Well, I'll take the easy way out and refer readers to some slick guys in Australia, Oz Promo TShirts, who've put in the work and have posted a darn good article about Mobile Marketing for Custom T-Shirt Printers. I note that most of their comments apply to small business as a whole.

Turns out we're shifting to making tools now (apps), not websites, to aid our marketing efforts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Custom T-Shirt Marketing Tip

And really, this applies to any small business. I just happen to be in the custom T-Shirt business.

Your success depends entirely on your relationships with current and potential clients, and how you dialog with them.

Sometimes in thinking of marketing, I see it as an abstract problem of putting out a blast of information through three or four marketing channels to garner enough business.

I tend to forget, unless I am talking to someone about printing their custom T-Shirt order, I'm not doing business!

Steve
The Comic Bastards gave my new book Menage a Bughouse a rave review!

You can buy Menage a Bughouse from the publisher here. It won't be going through the Diamond distribution system, so please consider buying it direct.

Steve


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Complete Bughouse Tour Dates

Here is a complete list of my tour dates for this summer. I'm hitting the road with Menage A Bughouse, the 408-page book collecting my trilogy of Bughouse graphic novels. The tour starts tomorrow in Providence, Rhode Island at ADA Books.



Tour Dates
July 11, Ada Books, Providence, RI, 7 pm
July 13, Bergen Street Comics, Brooklyn, NY, 7 pm
July 14, Locust Moon Comics, Philadelphia, PA, 8 pm
July 17, Boxcar Books, Bloomington IN, 7 pm
July 18, Daydream Comics, Iowa City, IA, 5 pm
July 21, Time Warp Comics, Boulder, CO, 2 pm
July 25, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA, 7 pm
July 28, Cosmic Monkey Comics, Portland, OR, 2 pm

Zip me an email if you'd like more information.

Steve Lafler

Monday, July 09, 2012

Bughouse at Brooklyn's Bergen St. Comics Friday the 13th


Cartoonist Steve Lafler teams up with publisher CO2 to release Ménage a Bughouse. a 408-page volume collecting Lafler's trilogy of Bughouse graphic novels, Bughouse, Baja and Scalawag.

Lafler will be touring the U.S. during July to promote Ménage a Bughouse. The Bughouse tour comes to Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, NY at 7 p.m. on July 13, with a panel discussion of Lafler's new book. The panel will feature rising art-comics star Austin English and CO2 publisher Gerry Giovinco.

Bughouse is the story of Jimmy Watts and his band of jazz playing bugs. The character driven story is set in a stylish “insect-noir” world, invoking an indigo-toned Manhattan of the early 1950s. Be-bop is king, and the alluring substance “bug juice” threatens to destroy the players against a backdrop of romance and intrigue.

Ménage a Bughouse retails for $24.99. A hardback edition will be available for $39.99. The large format book (8.5 x 11) showcases Lafler's fluid brushwork.

Steve Lafler is a master cartoonist and his work is in a class by itself; an unpredictable amalgam of fun, intelligence, breeziness and glorious strangeness that keeps your eyes fed and your synapses sizzling.” --Jim Woodring

Bergen Street Comics, 470 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (718) 230-5600
July 13, 7:00 p.m.

Further info from Steve Lafler

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Steve Lafler at MoCCA July 12

The Steve Lafler event at MoCCA has been cancelled. As of Friday July 6th, I am scrambling to come up with an alternate venue in NYC or Brooklyn.
 Cartoonist Steve Lafler teams up with publisher CO2 to release Ménage a Bughouse. a 408-page volume collecting his trilogy of Bughouse graphic novels.

Lafler will be touring the U.S. during July to promote Ménage a Bughouse.

Bughouse original art and Radio Insecto CDs will be among the offerings at Lafler's MoCCA stop.


Bughouse is the story of Jimmy Watts and his band of jazz playing bugs. The character driven story is set in a stylish “insect-noir” world, invoking an indigo-toned Manhattan of the early 1950s. Be-bop is king, and the alluring substance “bug juice” threatens to destroy the players against a backdrop of romance and intrigue. 

Ménage a Bughouse retails for $24.99. A hardback edition will be available for $39.99. The large format book (8.5 x 11) showcases Lafler's fluid brushwork.

Steve Lafler is a master cartoonist and his work is in a class by itself; an unpredictable amalgam of fun, intelligence, breeziness and glorious strangeness that keeps your eyes fed and your synapses sizzling.” --Jim Woodring

Tour Dates
July 11, Ada Books, Providence, RI
July 12, MoCCA, New York City
July 14, Locust Moon Comics, Philadelphia, PA
July 17, Boxcar Books, Bloomington IN
July 18, Daydream Comics, Iowa City, IA
July 21, Time Warp Comics, Boulder, CO
July 25, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
July 28, Cosmic Monkey Comics, Portland, OR

 Photo of Steve Lafler by Jeff Charles
Menage a Bughouse cover

Call (or email) Steve for further information at 503-213-3671.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Ménage à Bughouse Official Roll Out

CO2 has formally announced the publication of Ménage à BUGHOUSE, the 408-page collection of all my insect-jazz comics.
The book is a print-on-demand item--it will not be sold via the traditional book distribution system. The paperback edition is available here for $24.99, and the hardcover edition is available for $39.99.


As an artist, the publication of this volume is a dream realized. It takes the body of work at the center of my life and puts it all on one gorgeous place. Kudos, and big thanks, to Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta of CO2 for helping me bring this book into existence.

The work in Ménage à Bughouse has previously been published as a trilogy of graphic novels from indie comix publisher Top Shelf Productions. I love the Top Shelf series, each book is a complete jewel that stands on it's own. But you can't knock having all the Bughouse material in one book, and the real bonus here is the larger format--it really features my brushwork to advantage.

I've been blabbing about the new book for a month already, and the fact that I'm going to tour the U.S. this month (July, 2012) to promote it. So, I'm going to put a little something extra in this post. Here, I'm reproducing the foreword to Ménage à Bughouse, a pertinent bit of comics history explaining where the heck this book comes from:


The Coming of Bughouse

I was a bit feverish one October Monday some years back, so I called in sick to my part-time graphics job. Immersed in a wobbly, none-too-comfortable mode, I still found myself possessed of a playful curiosity. Picking up my pencil and a fresh piece of bristol paper, I determined to make one decent drawing before the day was out.

For inspiration, I pulled on some half-baked notions that had been piling up in my mind's eye. About six months prior, I'd read the shocking and lively autobiography of Miles Davis, the jazz trumpet giant of the 20th century. Miles was a supreme ranconteur, spinning his narrative around the creative leaps of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and many others as well as himself. He was the brilliant bad boy at the center of cutting-edge jazz, getting into hair-raising scrapes as a matter of course.

It was more than synchronicity that David Croenenberg's film adaptation of William Burrough's Naked Lunch appeared about the same time. Croenenberg's film was a brilliant translation of the ethos of Burroughs' work to film, underscored by a sublime Ornette Coleman soundtrack. Actor Peter Weller hit just the right note as Bill Lee, the stand in for Burroughs—dead pan hilarious and desperate at once, all the while embracing his dark destiny.

My fascination with the post-war NYC world that served as a back-drop to the Be-Bop and Beat movements dovetailed perfectly with the mood I wanted to capture in my “one decent drawing” that day. I was pregnant with intent to create a story set in that milleau.

The intent gathered strength and spilled over into the physical world. I quickly sketched a tight little drawing of an insect saxophone player in a pin-stripe suit. I inked the drawing and had my first image of Jimmy Watts—the strutting saxophone genius, capable of explosive innovations at the drop of a hat, yet crippled by addiction to a substance known as “Bug Juice.”

Bughouse burrows into the spirit of the artist, the innovator, the improvisor. I put the nature of creativity itself under the microscope, while at the same time I scrutinized the dynamics of addiction. Why are so many great artists and musicians hopeless addicts? Are they simply escaping pain, or do they seek the key to “the other”, the secret font of knowledge, to put it to work in the service of art? I came to understand that addicts are very good at fooling people, but their supreme skill is self-delusion.

I dove into Bughouse head first, and was rewarded beyond my wildest dreams. I sought to give a unique voice and perspective to each character, driving the narrative forward by writing dialog that illuminated character. The muse showed up, encouraged by my drive and focus, and happily handed Bughouse over to me.

The first nine-page Bughouse story appeared in Buzzard, the underground comics anthology, in the spring of 1993. At the time, I was excited at the prospect of creating enough material to publish a full 32-page comic book of Bughouse.

I would have been flabbergasted, and actually ecstatic, to know that the series would extend to six comic books, one graphic novel and one graphic novella on my own Cat-Head imprint, and a trilogy of graphic novels from Top Shelf Productions.

Now, the entire work is here in your hands, inviting you to embark on a singular adventure to the insect-noir, indigo-tinged world of Bughouse.

Steve Lafler
Oaxaca, Mexico
Spring 2012
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back here in real time, it's July 3, I'm starting my tour in 8 days. If I don't see you out there on the road, I hope you'll consider ordering Menage a Bughouse!


 
Photo of Steve Lafler by Jeff Charles

CO2 Publishes Three New Books, including Bughouse

Captain Obese, Heaven and the Dead City and my own Menage a Bughouse are all available from the CO2 store right here. Each book is available in both paperback and hardcover.

Congratulations to my Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta, my publishers at CO2, on getting these 3 great books out!


That's Jorge and Felix from the Bughouse book, gettin' down. Acrylic sketch by Steve Lafler

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom

This is the best movie I've seen in awhile. Granted, not everyone is a fan of director Wes Anderson, but I am.
Anderson's blunt deadpan humor is on display in Moonrise Kingdom, the story of a pair of 12-year old would-be summer lovers on an island off the coast of Maine. A wayward scout and a moody adolescent girl, played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, abscond to the woods. It's a timeless love story full of humor, but as usual with Anderson, there is an undercurrent of potential mayhem and dread.


Here's what knocks me out: It's the way the director presents the narrative. Each shot is carefully constructed with characters and props placed in the most deliberate manner within the rectangle of the screen. The movie is visually rich with details such as era appropriate costumes (1965). As a cartoonist, I really respond to this! The overall feel is that of a DC comic of the era, straightforward narrative with no waste.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Bughouse T-Shirt

I finally got it together to add a Bughouse Tour T-Shirt to my online shop. Yahoo!

The image above prints full color on a cotton ringer T (white T, navy trim) for $18.49.


Dreams of the Fox Mini-Bike

When I was 12 years old, I somehow convinced my parents to get me a mini-bike. I'd saved a few bux and they put up the rest.


What is a mini-bike? Basically, you have a few feet of steel tube bent into a smallish bike frame. Bolt a couple 10-12" tires on, throw a lawn mower engine under a foam rubber seat, and you're off!

Mine was a Fox Sprite with a Tecumseh 3-horsepower lawnmower engine. The same frame as the one pictured here, only with a smaller engine and tires.

I could barely fold my lanky frame over this thing, but spent a couple years zipping around the woods, parks and farmlands adjacent to my neighborhood, situated near the border of Longmeadow and East Longmeadow, in western Massachusetts.

Come fall with its wind, cold and mud, come the full-on dusty dog days of baking-hot August, you'd find me blasting full-throttle over the bumpy baseball field of Turner Park, or through the undulating dirt fire roads of nearby Wolf Swamp neighborhood.

Really, the only things that could compete for my attention were A) Spider-Man comics drawn by John Romita, and B) a plucky girl named Cathy who lived a couple blocks away. Homework? What's that?!

More than a bit dangerous, I was lucky to get only a few scrapes in falls from the bike. Helmet? Who wore helmets on mini-bikes in 1969? I had an insane amount of fun and learned how to take an engine apaprt (if not put it back together!).

Steve Lafler
Manx Media custom screen printing

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Steve Lafler at San Francisco's Cartoon Art Musuem


 photo by Jeff Charles

Cartoonist Steve Lafler teams up with publisher CO2 to release Ménage a Bughouse. a 408-page volume collecting Lafler's trilogy of Bughouse graphic novels, Bughouse, Baja and Scalawag.

That's Lafler in the photo, the professional cartoonist as amateur guitar slinger. 

Lafler will be touring the U.S. during July to promote Ménage a Bughouse. The Bughouse tour comes to the Cartoon Art Museum July 25 at 7:00 p.m., with critic Richard Von Busack interviewing Lafler about his Bughouse collection and discussing Oaxaca, Mexico where Lafler resides.


The Cartoon Art Musuem, 655 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 227-8666

Bughouse Tour in Boulder, Colorado July 21


Here is the straight dope on the Boulder, CO. stop on the Bughouse tour:

Cartoonist Steve Lafler teams up with publisher CO2 to release Ménage a Bughouse. a 408-page volume collecting Lafler's trilogy of Bughouse graphic novels, Bughouse, Baja and Scalawag. Lafler will be touring the U.S. during July to promote Ménage a Bughouse. The Bughouse tour comes to Time Warp Comics in Boulder July 21 at 2 p.m.

Bughouse is the story of Jimmy Watts and his band of jazz playing bugs. The character driven story is set in a stylish “insect-noir” world, invoking an indigo-toned Manhattan of the early 1950s. Be-bop is king, and the alluring substance “bug juice” threatens to destroy the players against a backdrop of romance and intrigue.

Lafler puts the creative life and the pitfalls of addiction under the microscope in this tour-de-force collection, tossing his name into the hat for contention as the Great American Cartoonist.

I was inspired by The Autobiography of Miles Davis as well as the movie adaptation of William Burroughs Naked Lunch” quips Lafler. “The post-war Be-bop jazz and Beat literature scenes of New York called to me as an apt setting for an extended work”.

Critic Rob Clough named Bughouse to his top 100 graphic novels of the first decade of the new century at number 22.

Ménage a Bughouse retails for $24.99. A hardback edition will be available for $39.99. The large format book (8.5 x 11) showcases Lafler's fluid brushwork.

Steve Lafler is a master cartoonist and his work is in a class by itself; an unpredictable amalgam of fun, intelligence, breeziness and glorious strangeness that keeps your eyes fed and your synapses sizzling.” --Jim Woodring

Time Warp Comics, 3105 28th St., Boulder, CO 80301 (303) 443-4500

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bughousee Book tour at Locust Moon in Philadelphia


Cartoonist Steve Lafler brings his Bughouse Book Tour to Locust Moon Comics and Movies in Philadelphia on July 14.

Lafler teams up with publisher CO2 to release Ménage a Bughouse. a 408-page volume collecting Lafler's trilogy of Bughouse graphic novels, Bughouse, Baja and Scalawag, previously released on the Top Shelf imprint.

Bughouse is the story of Jimmy Watts and his band of jazz playing bugs. The character driven story is set in a stylish “insect-noir” world, invoking an indigo-toned Manhattan of the early 1950s. Be-bop is king, and the alluring substance “bug juice” threatens to destroy the players against a backdrop of romance and intrigue.

Lafler puts the creative life and the pitfalls of addiction under the microscope in this tour-de-force collection, tossing his name into the hat for contention as the Great American Cartoonist.

I was inspired by The Autobiography of Miles Davis as well as the movie adaptation of William Burroughs Naked Lunch” quips Lafler. “The post-war Be-bop jazz and Beat literature scenes of New York called to me as an apt setting for an extended work”.

Critic Rob Clough named Bughouse to his top 100 graphic novels of the first decade of the new century at number 22.

The event is July 14 at 8:00 p.m. Locust Moon Comics and Movies, 4040 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Lafler will sign books & art, and perform a short set of Oaxacabilly music, a blend of country-punk and hysterical hillbilly cacophony.

Ménage a Bughouse retails for $24.99. A hardback edition will be available for $39.99. The large format book (8.5 x 11) showcases Lafler's fluid brushwork.

Steve Lafler is a master cartoonist and his work is in a class by itself; an unpredictable amalgam of fun, intelligence, breeziness and glorious strangeness that keeps your eyes fed and your synapses sizzling.” --Jim Woodring

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bughouse Tour Poster


Bill Cucinotta at CO2 (my publisher) put together this cool tour poster for me. Thanks Bill!

It's not too late to order the new Menage a Bughouse book from my indiegogo page. Just a few days left to snag this complete Bughouse phone book/door stop (and help underwrite the tour!).

Steve Lafler


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bughouse Tour Border Crossing

Let's get the Bughouse Tour from Mexico into the States!


Steve, Geni and Max get their mojo going at the border.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Bughouse Tour Indiegogo campaign

It's on -- I'm touring the US in July in support of Ménage a Bughouse, my 408-page collection of my bugs-playing-jazz opus. CO2 is publishing this career watershed book.
I've started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the tour, and the campaign doubles as a great way to pre-order the book at this link.

The campaign also offers rewards such as original sketches and art to backers.

Bughouse is the story of Jimmy Watts and his band of jazz playing bugs. The character driven story is set in a stylish “insect-noir” world, invoking an indigo-toned Manhattan of the early 1950s. Be-bop is king, and the alluring substance “bug juice” threatens to destroy the players against a backdrop of romance and intrigue. 

Tour Dates

July 11, Ada Books, Providence, RI
July 12, MoCCA, New York City
July 14, Locust Moon Comics, Philadelphia, PA
July 17, Boxcar Books, Bloomington IN
July 18, Daydream Comics, Iowa City, IA
July 20, Time Warp Comics, Boulder, CO
July 25, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
July 28, Cosmic Monkey Comics, Portland, OR

 See you out there on Route 66!

 
Steve Lafler is a master cartoonist and his work is in a class by itself; an unpredictable amalgam of fun, intelligence, breeziness and glorious strangeness that keeps your eyes fed and your synapses sizzling.” 
 --Jim Woodring