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Death Play a Mean Harmonica – A Graphic Novel Takes Us to Oaxaca

May 14, 2021

Death Plays a Mean Harmonica, Steve Lafler’s graphic novel tribute to Oaxaca, Mexico, hits stores this August.

Death Plays a Mean Harmonica / Cat Head Comics

Gertie and Rex get a wild hair and relocate to Oaxaca! Upon arrival in this cultural hub of southern Mexico, our intrepid migrants meet Eduardo, the crafty 1000-year-old Zapotec vampire who prefers chicken blood, El Rey Pelón (the skinny pot-bellied fungus who drives a taxi) and of course Death, who plays a mean harmonica.

But why Oaxaca? What are our intrepid migrants running from? Turns out Rex is plunged into a newfound fear of mortality at age 50, while Gertie is bored with her writing career and harbors a secret ambition to become a Lucha Libre wrestler.

Cartoonist Lafler combines slippery optimism with a deep suspicion that time does not exist. A view of life, death and everything in between is encoded in brush strokes executed in magic black ink.

First released in 2018 in a limited edition of 100 with a screenprinted cover signed by the artist, this is the first trade book edition of Death Plays a Mean Harmonica. The book is available now at Amazon, and will be in Alt/indy friendly comic book shops in August.

Order Death Plays a Mean Harmonica from Amazon for $12.99

“It’s pitch-perfect, a veritable clinic on how to draw the eye into scenes where most of the drama comes by way of interpersonal communication rather than dull fisticuffs, chases on foot or by car, etc. When you look at Lafler’s characters talking, you instantly want to know what they’re talking about.”

-Ryan Carey, Four Color Apocalypse

Ever the maverick marching to his own beat, Lafler enjoyed long runs of his improvised Dog Boy comic books as well as the jaunty, unhinged Buzzard anthology. From there the self-styled maestro settled into the BugHouse trilogy of graphic novels, a history of Bebop jazz realized with an all-insect cast.

Subsequently, the artist decamped to Oaxaca, Mexico with his family for a decade. There, he started a country punk band with locals, Radio Insecto.

Death Plays a Mean Harmonica is the artist’s fictional report on the sublime city of Oaxaca.

Death Plays a Mean Harmonica by Steve Lafler / GN for August Shipping

ISBN: 9780976969075

Publication Date: August 2021

$12.99 US

146 pages

Diamond Comics Item Code: JUN211410

Also Available: Amazon, Ingram Content Group


Also available, two more dazzling graphic novels from Steve Lafler

1956 Book One: Sweet Sweet Little Ramona

Notorious alt comix legend Steve Lafler delivers readers to the bright lights and glamor of Manhattan in 1956 with Jack, Susie and Ramona. In the new GN 1956 Book One: Sweet Sweet little Ramona, they cut deals in the Garment District by day and haunt the legendary Jazz Clubs of 52nd St. by night.

Order 1956 Book One at Amazon for $9.95

BugHouse Book One

Tenor saxophone maestro Jimmy Watts leads his talented band of bugs from the swing era into the uncharted maelstrom of Bebop. As he and his band mates claw their way to the top of the jazz world, they must fight the temptation to be consumed by addiction to a substance known as “Bug Juice”.Inspired by the postwar explosion of Bohemian cultural stylings from artists as diverse as jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, novelist Dawn Powell and Beat avatar William Burroughs, cartoonist Steve Lafler delivers his indigo-tinged masterwork graphic novel, BugHouse.

Order BugHouse Book One at Amazon for $15.99

Coming for Fall 2021: 1956 Book Two: Movie Star

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