And speaking of the ’80s — and Rob Clough! — he’s conducting a career-spanning interview with Steve Lafler over at The Comics Journal. Springing from the underground sensibility of the ’70s, Lafler was a fixture of the alt comix of the ’80s and beyond with his iconic characters Dog Boy and Benb. From the intro:
If there was an experience to be had as a cartoonist during this period, Lafler’s had it. He had a huge audience as a daily cartoonist for his college paper. He was part of the Newave comics movement of the early ’80s. He was an early self-publisher, navigating the Direct Market when many others were just starting to make the plunge. He had his Dog Boy series published by Fantagraphics, with the likes of Joe Sacco and Robert Fiore doing copy-editing and corrections. He and long-time friend Steve Beaupre created Buzzard, one of the more memorable anthologies of the 1990s. He became one of the early publishing finds for Top Shelf, who collected and released his bugs ‘n bebop opus Bughouse. Since 2005, he’s experimented with Web-comics and self-published two more books: Tranny, which provides different perspectives on his status as a transgendered person; and the newly released El Vocho, a throwback caper book dealing with clean-energy cars and romance.
Restraint was not in the Lafler lexicon:
In the early ’80s, with Dog Boy, I would sometimes eat a ¼ hit of blotter acid to finish up inking an issue on deadline. It was hella fun. You can’t do more than that, as you get too overwhelmed with the decision-making process to make art. Look at Dog Boy #2, the second story with the Poodle Blockheads. They drive a car through a liquor store. There are dozens of bottles on the wall, I was dosed when I inked all that detail in there and it was a blast.
It’s only the first part of three. It’s a bit of a surprise to see what a mainstream style Lafler — who was considered indie as hell in the day — worked in, but he didn’t have the benefit of a generation of RAW, Clowes and Hernandez to inspire him.
As comics become recognized as a greater part of our culture, it’s instructive to see cartoonists of this kind of “tween” generation — those who aren’t Masters of Comics level, anyway — get attention. Dan Nadel has done a great job with his two books in rediscovering cartoonists up until the end of the underground era, but it’s nice to rediscover artists while they are still around to enjoy it, too.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.