Bug House is the name of an innovative, cutting edge jazz band, put together by up and coming new talent Jimmy Watts. The story starts off with a quick wink into present time and the “end of the story” of sorts, to then flash back with the How It All Started approach.
We meet young Jimmy Watts again as a kid discovering his love of music, then follow him through college and his chance meeting with Slim, another musician with a taste for the progressive. One thing leading to another, Jimmy and Slim soon play gigs, get hired into a band, form their own, and the rest… is history -as they say.
Along the way Jimmy meets the love of his life Julie Blanchette. She introduces him to “bug juice,” of common usage in the music circle, to which he quickly becomes addicted.
The dialogue is good and the drawings are expressive, making the characters very much alive and very “human.” They seem to flow from one frame to the next, alternating between the playful and more serious. I never really cared for the insect heads, though they certainly give the story a new twist.
Lafler’s ability to bring feelings of higher planes down to the visual is deserving of applause. Cases in point: the music. How do you express new sounds? The crazier the music, the more outlandish the images –and yes, you do get it, just from looking at the panel. Another instance: Bug Juice. Whenever Jimmy, Slim, or another character indulges, the inner reaction is brought to the outer visual in all its fiery implosion of screaming nerve endings.
The storyline itself is nothing very new –it’s all in the telling. Bug Juice being the drug of choice, I imagine it as a familiar tale of a true-to-life musician’s story, from his modest beginnings to his rise to fame, by way of struggles with personal demons, temptations, addiction, and eventual breaking free. The dialogue is often blunt and raw, with humor and familiar dialect of the time, as pertaining to the Bug House world.
For mature audience.
This is the first of a 3 volume series.
Steve Lafler has over fifty books to his name and lives in the San Francisco Bay area.