Tag Archives: Retro

Review: ‘1956: Sweet Sweet Little Ramona’ by Steve Lafler

Steve Lafler’s 1956

1956: Sweet Sweet Little Ramona. by Steve Lafler. Cat-Head Comics. 2020, 56pp. $9.95

Adorable Ramona is sweet down to her toes. She also happens to be a guy. But, hey, no problem there say the fellas from the Garment District. Ramon, as Ramona, is just so delightful. So, no problem. Nobody’s perfect! That’s the punchline to 1959’s Some Like it Hot, by the way. The artist and writer Steve Lafler doesn’t actually use that line. In fact, his graphic novel is completely different from what goes on in the Billy Wilder classic. That said, there are definitely some similar elements at play. And perhaps the biggest theme is one recurring in just about every Lalfer book, that of music, specifically jazz, hot jazz! Since, after all, some do indeed like it hot!

Hot Jazz!

Now, Steve Lafler turns out to be a very cool cat–and we’re about to take a deep dive into all things Lafler. Well, as much as I see fit to shoe-horn into this review. We’ll save some more for an interview with Steve Lafler next week. That sounds good, no? Lafler’s latest book, 1956, features a whole tableaux of goodfella types, all of them working various middle management jobs in the Garment biz, an industry with just enough of a glimmer of glamour to be suitable for these big city gentlemen. Lafler mixes the whimsical with the gritty. His style is clean lines in the service of a loose and street smart sensibility that brings to mind such greats as the Hernandez brothers and Kim Deitch. It’s quirky, idiosyncratic, and very much alt-comics. But that only makes sense since alternative comics are very much a part of Lafler’s scene. 1956 proves to be an utter delight.

Sweet Ramona!

The one thing I have come to understand from reading Lafler comics is that this is one devil-may-care dude who knows how to dish it out a la bohemian. I envy the ease with which he seems to glide through life. Maybe it takes one to know one. I know it’s not all peaches and cream. That’s part of the point. It’s about making the most of what you’ve got, living by your wits, and not taking anything so seriously that it hurts– except for family. You look out for your loved ones, right? Why do I digress so? I think Lafler just puts me in a very irreverent mood.

BugHouse

Now, take some of his other work and you’ll start to see some patterns. You’ll see that jazz motif bebop around. You’ll see some hard luck hound dogs–or bugs. And you’ll definitely see a lot of that joie de vivre thing we all want some of. You find it all wrapped in a bow in Lafler’s BugHouse, albeit tinged with the harsh realities of life in the big city. Yes, these bugs play a lot of jazz but they’re also prone to drug addiction. Sad bittersweet bugs.

Death Plays a Mean Harmonica

A more recent Lafler work is Death Plays a Mean Harmonica. I find this to be quite a masterpiece incorporating a healthy dose of auto-bio mixed in with everything that Lafler has learned about the uncanny world of comics. Lafler takes his own family’s decade living abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, and turns it into the misadventures of Rex and Gertie and their two young children. Lafler let’s the good times roll with plenty of magical realism which includes a skeleton who regulars meets with Lafler while he’s asleep. They philosophize and, of course, enjoy playing music together. This serves as background for the main event. It turns out that Gertie is a secret superhero by night! Lots of fun! Bravo!

For more information, including comics, illustrations, paintings, and various merchandise, be sure to visit Steve Lafler.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews

Kickstarter: VOYAGE TO THE DEEP by Sam Glanzman

sam-glanzman

Sam Glanzman’s VOYAGE TO THE DEEP was originally published in 1962 by Dell Comics and has never been reprinted. Drew Ford, known for finding lost gems in comics and bringing them back to print, plans to give this masterwork a well deserved return. This will be the third collection in Ford’s IT’S ALIVE! imprint. A Kickstarter campaign in support of this book is running now through Dec 3rd. You can find it right HERE.

Eisner Award nominee Drew Ford, left his position at Dover Publications earlier this year (where he put together over 30 graphic novel collections, one of which was nominated for an Eisner Award: THE PUMA BLUES by Stephen Murphy & Michael Zulli), to launch his own imprint called IT’S ALIVE!, were he will continue his mission of bringing lost and forgotten graphic novels and uncollected comic book runs back into print!

its-alive

Currently, he is trying to collect (for the first time ever) VOYAGE TO THE DEEP by Sam Glanzman, a series of four interconnected 32 page comics books that have been out of print for almost 55 years! This will be the third collection from his new imprint, and he is raising the funds to do this through Kickstarter.

VOYAGE TO THE DEEP follows the adventures of Admiral Jonathan Leigh, as he commands the mighty Proteus (a shape-shifting atomic sub) through the deepest of Earth’s oceans, battling fanged sea creatures, arctic monsters, anti-mater generators, sonic attacks, and even terrorism!

voyage-to-deep-comics

Golden Age comic book master, and WWII veteran, Sam Glanzman has been drawing comics for over 70 years. And through Ford’s recent efforts, many new collections of Glanzman’s out of print work are now back on the shelves for long time fans to enjoy, and new readers to discover for decades to come. Mark Waid called Glanzman “…a National treasure in the field of illustration.”, and The A.V. Club praised Glanzman as “…one of the great storytellers of 20th century comics.”

The VOYAGE TO THE DEEP Kickstarter page has a handful of incredible Early Bird Specials, which will only last for the first few days of the campaign. And remember that if you end up becoming a backer, you will not only be helping Sam Glanzman, but you will also be helping Ford to continue his mission of saving the history of comics, one book at a time!

Visit the VOYAGE TO THE DEEP Kickstarter campaign running now thru Dec 3rd right HERE.

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Filed under Comics, Dell Comics, Drew Ford, IT’S ALIVE! Press, Kickstarter, Military, Sam Glanzman