Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Steve Lafler - Cartoonist Survey #215

Purchase your very own FrankenJerry t-shirt by clicking on the above picture.

Steve Lafler is a cartoonist who was born in upstate New York in 1957. He studied painting at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and graduated in December of 1979. While at UMass he drew the daily comic strip, “Aluminum Foil” for the school newspaper, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. In 1980 he published his first book, “Benb and Gerald”, a collection of his “Aluminum Foil” strips. Steve then published the 24 page comic, “Mean Cat” in 1981 under his own Cat-Head Comics imprint. His “Dog Boy” series came next and was also published under his Cat-Head Comics until Fantagraphics picked it up for a ten issue run in 1987. In the 90’s he and his long-time friend Stephen Beaupre created the magazine-sized comic anthology Buzzard, which ran for 20 issues and included work by many well known and up and coming cartoonists.

Steve is probably best known for his “Bughouse” comics which feature anthropomorphic jazz music playing insects. Originally published in the pages of Buzzard, “Bughouse” soon became its own series published through Cat-Head Comics and eventually published by
Top Shelf in three volumes, “Bughouse”, “Baja” and “Scalawag”. Other works by Steve include, “Duck & Cover”, “Femme Noire”, “Prometheus’ Gift”, “40 Hour Man”, “Self Employment for Bohemians”, “Tranny” and his most recent “El Vocho”. Steve is also a talented painter and illustrator who has done work for Sony Music, Bill Graham Presents, Apple Computer, Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Seattle Weekly, San Francisco Weekly, Worcester Magazine and many others. He lives with his wife Serena and their two children in Oaxaca, Mexico. Stop by his website to see more of his work and buy his books. You should also follow him on his Self Employment for Bohemians blog. There are also some pretty cool t-shirts that he has for sale over at CafePress.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Micron 03 and 05, which I use for details after inking with a brush. Speedball B-6 for lettering, can't beat it for classic cartoon feeling.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I draw with HB drawing pencils.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I use Photoshop for the most part.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?

What type of paper do you use?
I like 2 ply bristol, or heavier, and I like both smooth and rough finish. You just can't get bristol in Oaxaca where I live, so I try to stock up when in the states. Down here, I go to the art stores and papeleria and just look at various stock until I find something good. Right now I'm drawing a Dog Boy story on some heavy paper with a rough texture, it defines a lot about how the work goes--it will be very rustic looking!

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
The only real problem is drawing when I'm rusty--and as a dad of two small kids, I'm rusty a lot these days. I'm not a fan of doing illustration work, but on the other hand I take it because I need the bucks!

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
All of the above. Dick Blick is good when I'm in the states.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Review the script, check my supplies, and go. Sometimes I like to smoke some pot, depending on the task at hand.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Oh yeah, lately been listening to Cracker, Capt. Beefheart, Elvis Costello, Grateful Dead, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, the Cramps, and some bad ass Bob Dylan shows from the mid 90s with lots of snarling guitars -- a very edgy, bluesy moment for Bob, most folks don't even believe it's him. I was 20 in 1977, so you can figure that defines part of my taste.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Archie, Sad Sack, Gold Key, Dell, Uncle Scrooge, then at age ten on to Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Marvel stuff. Later, Will Eisner and Crumb. Reading Spider-Man in '67 - '69 was insane fun and very exciting.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
For the storytelling and great art, Steve Canyon. The imperialism, that aspect of Caniff's work is sort of dumb, but other than that he's the man.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
As a teen, read thru Lord of the Rings three times. When really little, you can't beat Dr. Seuss.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Bachelor's of Fine Arts, concentration in painting at UMass Amherst. The profs were a bunch of drunks, letches and ego maniacs. Quite a bunch.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Yes. I love the web, but I love print even more. I love printing presses and ink.

Did either of your parents draw?
A bit, both had talent but did not pursue it.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My wife Serena. My friends Mike Perkin and Stephen Beaupre.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I don't have time, with other responsibilities. Here and there I'll do a stretch of sketching. I'm not a compulsive life drawer like Crumb or Peter Kuper (Cartoonist Survey #126).

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Taught at Lane Community College in Eugene Oregon for two years, and later in the Oakland CA Parks and Rec art program for kids. I'm not a true teacher though. I prefer students 18 or older who exhibit a real commitment.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
For me, it's a matter of will and a sense of mission. The talent is important, but passion trumps talent.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Collected Marvels as a kid. Now, I'm the least materialistic person I know, can't be bothered. I'd rather do than collect.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
A combo of Shaggy and Spider-Man. Well, I'd be Daphne for Halloween.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Left handed lefty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Cow punk guitarist/singer/songwriter -- basically a rock star.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A drawing table in a corner, with a cluttered table full of crap next to it.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Acoustic and electric guitar, have just started a band with Bill Stair, who's been onstage at CBGB's, provisionally called Bughouse. Sort of cow punk/country/rock and roll. Just played our first gig, with more to come this spring.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Go to a cool art school and make lots of friends. My nephew Dan James, aka Ghostshrimp, went to Pratt. Some of his college buddies hired him to work at Cartoon Network and now he's the lead background artist on Adventure Time. Not bad, kid! Rock on.

Who is your favorite artist?

It's always changing. I like ink slingers like Eisner and Caniff, but hell Jack Kirby ruled my childhood. And now, who can beat Jaime Hernandez, he's incredible. Well, I also love Lux Interior, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, Jerry Garcia and Howlin' Wolf as much as any visual artist.

Thank you very much Steve!

Next time on David Wasting Paper is cartoonist Paul Fell.

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