El Vocho – Steve Lafler GN

4 out of 5

Lafler, as ever, follows his muse… and it leads him along a surprisingly linear path! Sure, El Vocho has parallel timelines, a dream-walking type wiseman, and cars that run on air, but we get to that without a real break in the narrative, as sculptor / artist Eddie meets aetheric car-repair inventor Rosa, and then the duo combine for a mob-thwartin’, spacetime adventure, which sounds plenty linear, right?

Look, go read some Dog Boy, and some Bughouse: we love the way Lafler wanders around his characters, exploring obsessions via a beat-poet, take-it-as-it-comes approach that tends to involve some drug-touched realizations and flashing forward and backward along a flexible timeline, but it’s also very cool to see the cartoonist’s creativities applied to a story that has a more formal plot thread, even while its individual elements are still purely Lafler-esque.

For example: Eddie breaks up with his fiance, almost indirectly, within a few pages of meeting Rosa, and any other comic would make this a plot point. In Steve’s worlds, though, it’s just a detail, and she’s gone, and now Eddie has his art to worry about, or this girl Rosa who shows up like a dervish, then disappears for weeks at a time, the reappears to get inspired on her new inventions by Eddie’s increasingly surreal art.

El Vocho piles on this concepts in its weird but laidback tone, Steve effecting a pretty consistent, grounded line style for the book. It… doesn’t really have a conclusion, unfortunately, which is also kind of a habit of Lafler’s and normally fits the works, but because of the more straightforward nature of this story, it could’ve used a few more pages to draw out the ending some more. Still, its a really entertaining and surprising 100-or-so pages.

The printing quality is a little blurry at points, unfortunately, at least in my copy, but we do get a lot of nice bonuses in the back – photos from Steve, and sketches related to the book.