The Comic Queen

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews: Top Shelf Sale (Part 2)

Here is a second and final group of reviews of books I purchased in the big Top Shelf sale. I also bought Master Plan by Scott Mills by one of my non-comics reading friends absconded with it before I had the chance to read it. I’m hoping to get it back in the near future

By Steve Lafler

Bughouse, the story of jazz insects living in a bug universe, is a lot more serious than one would expect. How deep could a story about instrument playing grasshoppers really be? Much more than one might think apparently. The musicians in Bughouse, Jimmy Watts, Slim, and the rest live with many of the same demons that haunt popular human musicians. They are heavy drug users, womanizers, and have violent tendencies. Despite all this, they manage to make great music and play for their fans. Bughouse is the story of this bug band trying to make it on the jazz scene and through the serious issues in their lives.

When I purchased Bughouse, I expected a fun little story about happy go lucky jazz musicians who happened to be bugs. Instead, I got an insightful look at the pitfalls of trying to survive a drug addiction while trying to become a successful band. Sure, the musicians in the story also happen to be bugs, but that doesn’t matter. Lafler treats the characters like humans and tells a touching story. The script isn’t all serious though. It has just as many funny moments as difficult.

Bughouse served as my introduction to Lafler’s work and I am very pleased with the result.

Bottom Line: A-

Baja (Bughouse Vol. 2)
By Steve Lafler

Baja, the sequel to Bughouse, is lighter both in length and substance than the first book. In this story, the band goes on a short hiatus while Bones flees to Mexico to escape false charges. While in Mexico, Bones starts up another band and meets a beautiful woman. He starts like anew while waiting for everything to calm down at home.

This story is what I was expecting when I picked up the first volume. While it does have its serious moments, it is a much lighter and breezier story over all. Lafler loosens up a bit and lets the characters have a little more fun and a little less tragedy. The script still has its fair share of laughs and is very enjoyable.

Maybe it is just the change in scenery, but it feels like Lafler’s drawing style has lightened up a bit as well. The backgrounds have fewer lines and many feel much bigger. Just as Bones is broadening his world view in Mexico, Lafler does the same with his art. I look forward to picking up more of his books.

Bottom Line: A-


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