Friday, January 8, 2021

PELICAN BASTARDS webcomic at SOLRAD.CO Mondays!

 Happy 2021 and welcome back!

Lots to announce very soon but for now keep up with Michael Aushenker's ongoing webcomic #PelicanBastards at SOLRAD.CO.

New episode every Monday.

The entire saga to date is archived in the SOLRAD PRESENTS menu category.


And the introductory first chapter story arc has been collected as a comic book available signed/doodled by Aushenker. (See photographic evidence below).

Just PayPal $8 to:

chipmunksandsquirrels@yahoo.com 


So get on board, catch up with those pesky pelican partners-in-crime Ivan, Glen, Jamie & Claude and witness as FBI agent Masonry, police officers Napkin & Cajun, Police Chief Pimco and Commodore Benlulou set out to stop them!


Chapter 3: Agents of Chaos begins Monday, January 11...exclusively at the Solrad.co site.





Monday, December 21, 2020

OUR LITTLE ASTRONAUT picture book available now!

Last-minute gift idea: the


recently released picture book #OurLittleAstronaut by Michael Aushenker & Kelly Kusumoto


For a signed/doodled copy, PayPal $30 to: 


chipmunksandsquirrels@yahoo.com 


https://www.blurb.com/b/9960606-our-little-astronaut

Friday, October 23, 2020

NEGA JEIL CHA-LA-GA! Yes, the 2NE1 biographical comic is coming in '21, of course!

On October 21, we announced that the 2NE1 biographical comic will join Acme Ink's long line of biographical comics and hit the comic book shops in 2021. 

Here is the front cover art by Sydney-based manga cartoonist Queenie Chan, who also designed our back cover. I have written the script and editor Mel Smith is currently closing a deal with an artist to draw the book.


The 2NE1 comic, to our knowledge, will be the first English-language K-Pop comic book - and definitely the first book about a female K-Pop group - in North America.

So why 2NE1?

With BTS and Blackpink dominating the Billboard charts, KPOP has officially become an international phenomenon and crossed over into the mainstream...

But that's not why we are doing this book...

I started writing biographical comics for Mel Smith's Acme Ink with the first book in his line - 2014's SLAYER - a band I grew up loving and music I knew well. I followed SLAYER with a succession of comics which have sold well in shops and at comic book conventions, including EXODUS, PANTERA, ROB ZOMBIE/WHITE ZOMBIE, GWAR and METALLICA. We began to get into punk and more ecclectic groups with NOFX and SYSTEM OF A DOWN - two more comics that I wrote. I also wrote Acme's recent comics about TOOL, TESTAMENT, SUBLIME, JUDAS PRIEST and THE MISFITS. Acme also have biographical comics about IRON MAIDEN, PRIMUS, OPETH and FAITH NO MORE written by other writers.

2NE1 ruled the Asian charts from their breakout hit "Fire" in 2009 (and their actual debut in male group BigBang's "Lollipop") to their untimely breakup by early 2017 with the single "Good-bye." In-between, they had recorded four albums and scores of hit singles.

However, I was unaware of all that because I arrived at the KPOP party late. 

In early 2018, while writing some of the upcoming biograpical comics on heavy metal and punk groups -- including THE CLASH, my all-time favorite group -- a friend of mine turned me on to "Hello Bitches," a badass, catchy post-2NE1 solo song and infectious video by the group's leader, CL. We were driving around Morro Bay, Calif., listening to this song on a loop. 
The other big solo hit, "The Baddest Female," soon followed (with a video that was equally visual and unforgettable - you haven't really seen CL until she's rapping with herself dressed like a man in a suit with twirly mustache and cigar).

My infatuation with CL should've stopped right there but of course it didn't. I worked my way back through the 2NE1 catalogue and discovered the charms of CL, SanDara, Minzy and Bom on dozens of songs and videos across their four main albums. Each girl had her own distinct identity and function in the group: CL was the clear leader and lead rapper; Minzy could sing and rap but also was the featured dancer; Dara had the looks; and Bom Park, for sure, had the best, throatiest singing voice, often weaponized to carry the choruses and soar across the verses. 

What I loved about 2NE1's music were the mad pop hooks and multiple genres - sometimes several genres successfully coexisting all in one song. What I also loved was that many of the songs were obsessed with early rap and electro-pop stylings that were no longer in vogue in America. 

And then there are the fun, colorful, out-of-control videos: big-budget, lavish and Bollywood decadent in a way that English-language videos had not been for decades. They made not one but two videos for "Fire" (the street version and the cosmic version). There's also the English-language "Can't Nobody," which starts out sleek and urban, turns sci-fi-ish with cartoony robots surrounding CL before heading into a finale reminiscent of the origin of the Fantastic Four when they are in the rocket bombarded by cosmic rays....





....and the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" homage for "Crush." 





I also love the acoustic-tinged heartbreak of "Lonely," the cyberpunk vibe of their neo-reggae pop song "Come Back Home," the epic unconventional love story of Bom Park's sweeping power ballad "You & I"...



....and the beer commerical conceit of Dara and CL turn "Kiss." "Scream," a heart-pumping EDM-style banger, is another great one.

The albums have so many excellent deep tracks that should've been released as singles. I particularly love "Pretty Boy," "Let's Go Party," the CL-Minzy tag team of "Please Don't Go" and the CL solo banger "MTBD."


Of course, nothing beats the visual invention and scale of "I Am the Best,." a tour de force that goes from Guandam-style urban chic to glitzy black pyramids and rolling war drums to a grand finale in which punk rockers 2NE1 blast everything in sight to smithereens with machine guns. 



It's their signature song and video for a reason: the four girls have never looked better than in this 2010 video.

What's also astonishing about 2NE1's success story is the man behind it: Teddy Park, a male and an American from Diamond Bar, Calif., had written and produced the bulk of their songs (many from a female POV, mind you). 




(Park, a former KPOP boy band rapper and a brilliant composer and producer, did the same for male counterparts BigBang and BigBang solo member G-Dragon and he currently does the same for newer female sensations Blackpink and can be seen in the recent Netflix documentary "Blackpink: Light Up the Sky.")

All of this blew my mind. 

The further I went down the 2NE1 rabbit hole, the more amazing legends and anecdotes I found, and I knew there were great stories to be told about this legendary quartet, without whom there would be no Blackpink today.

When I originally brought up the idea of doing a 2NE1 comic to Mel in early 2019, I think he was kind of wary but he never said no. Then suddenly, BTS hit stateside with massive success, KPOP became ubitquitous, making headlines everywhere, and after that, I could hear the excitement in Mel's voice about the prospects of doing a KPOP comic.

Queenie Chan was originally supposed to draw the entire book but her rising success in Australia meant other obligations took over. However, she was gracious enought to do our front and back covers, which she did with finesse, style and elegance, capturing the energy of the group. We are very thankful to have her aboard the project, even in this limited form.




Mission accomplished. I am thrilled. And to quote 2NE1: Nega Jeil Cha-la-ga! I AM THE BEST!




Wednesday, September 2, 2020

PELICAN BASTARDS webcomic drops on SOLRAD.CO simultaneously with arrival of PELICAN BASTARDS issue #1 - Available now signed and doodled!

 


August 31 proved to be a big day for those pesky PELICAN BASTARDS. 

Michael Aushenker's first-ever webcomic launched at SOLRAD.CO, where it will appear here ON MONDAYS as part of the independent comics criticism site's confederation of curated comics:

https://solrad.co/solrad-presents-pelican-bastards-1

Meanwhile, on the same day, Michael Aushenker's newest comic book, PELICAN BASTARDS #1, arrived. This first issue contains a handful of the initial strips that will run at SOLRAD.CO with sequel books to come in the future once more strips have run online.



PELICAN BASTARDS is about a quartet of madcap seabirds — Ivan, Glenn, Jamie, and Claude — who realize that they can exploit their bird powers and get away with all stripes of mischief, mayhem...maybe even murder?

So if you want a taste of what's to come with PELICAN BASTARDS, order today for your signed & doodled copy with insane pinups and oddball seabird art!

To order PELICAN BASTARDS #1 signed and doodled, PAYPAL $8 ($5 plus $3 shipping) to: 

chipmunksandsquirrels@yahoo.com 

OR - MAIL CHECK PAYABLE TO MICHAEL AUSHENKER TO:

Michael Aushenker

P.O. Box 3143

Ventura, CA 93006


TROLLS # 3 HAS CRASH-LANDED - TROLLS 3: 1 TRIP 2 MANY - Available signed and doodled now!

 It's 2020, everyone, and new Michael Aushenker humor comics have arrived.


TROLLS 3: 1 TRIP 2 MANY is the third and possibly final issue of the TROLLS (lingo for "air traffic controllers") series. Set on Mars, the storyline finds our tower trolls Edward and Wayward now working at Spaced X for Elong Tusk followinng their international incident in TROLLS #2: OPERATION GREAT WALL.

The original TROLLS came out in 2015. TROLLS: OPERATION GREAT WALL arrived in 2018.

TROLLS: 1 TRIP 2 MANY also features some amazing guest shots, including stellar, cosmic pinups by MIKE BOHEEM of DOPECAT webcomics; DEAN LECRONE of Doc and Darleen comics; and JEAUX JANOVSKY, an animation veteran. Back cover art has been created by Tokyo-based fine artist KYOKO MITANI (kyokomitaniart.com)

To order TROLLS 3: 1 TRIP 2 MANY signed and doodled, PAYPAL $7 ($4 plus $3 shipping) to: 

Chipmunksandsquirrels@yahoo.com 

OR - MAIL CHECK PAYABLE TO MICHAEL AUSHENKER TO:

Michael Aushenker

P.O. Box 3143

Ventura, CA 93006

ALSO: You can order TROLLS: OPERATION GREAT WALL signed and doodled for $7 ($4 plus $3 shipping) per copy at the same contact above.


Saturday, June 2, 2018

!COMING SOON FROM CARTOON FLOPHOUSE COMICS! "HUMPTY-DUMPTY & PINOCCHIO in VEGAS"

ONCE UPON A TIME..................................................... shit happened.


#HumptyDumpty #Pinocchio #LasVegas 
#HumptyDumptyandPinocchioinVegas 
#CartoonFlophouse 
#CartoonFlophouseComics
#MichaelAushenker
#Aushenker

Sunday, February 5, 2017

‘Lightning’ to strike at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center this Thursday!


‘Lightning’ to strike Cultural Arts Center

Lit Live mounts play based on ‘Frankenstein’ creation

By Michael Aushenker

A creation story about the ultimate creation story marks the latest Lit Live production at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.
“And Lightning Struck: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Creation,” which runs Feb. 9 through 12, tells the story of how Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley sparked the idea for her novel, “Frankenstein,” one of literature’s great archetypal stories.
Playwright Robert Weibezahl wrote the original script for “Lightning,” to be helmed by Simi resident Austin Robert Miller, a 21-year-old actor making his directorial debut.

‘It’s alive!’

The year is 1831, and Matthews, a visitor from the West, drops by Shelley with a request: to write the introduction for a new printing of her best-selling 1818 novel, “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.” Matthews tells the widow that he is interested “not the story of the creature itself but the story of how you came to create it.”
Shelley shares with the visitor her memories of the strange, stormy night in 1817 when a group of friends—Shelley, then-husband Percey Shelley, Lord George Byron and John Polidori—tucked inside an English mansion, engaged in a contest to come up with the best ghost story. Not a spoiler, but as suggested by the play’s title (not to mention history!), Mary Shelley won the gambit by a longshot.
Shelley’s now nearly 200-year-old masterwork surely ranks among the most influential pieces of literature of all time—having anticipated a roster of Gothic tales from Polidori’s “The Vampyre” to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
In the pop culture, Shelley’s central themes of man playing God, science gone amuck, and reanimating the dead have inspired everything from the 1930s Boris Karloff “Frankenstein” movies and Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy “Young Frankenstein” to “The Munsters,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Robocop.”

Preview of things to come

On Jan. 11, in the basement of the Cultural Arts Center, Miller led his cast through an intimate reading. The dry run commenced following an introduction by Simi Valley Arts Commissioner Steven Hayes. 
A Simi resident of 53 years, Hayes formed Lit Live in 2014. Including “Lightning,” the company has mounted five works to date, beginning with “The Dark Heart of Poe,” based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poems, in Miller portrayed a young Poe.
“And Lightning Struck” stars Kay Capasso as Shelley, Evan Smith as Byron, Jennifer Ridgway as Younger Mary, Alyssa Villaire as Shelley’s half-sister Claire, Schafer Bourne as Victor Frankenstein and Tom Mesmer as Frankenstein’s creature.
“It’s one of the more eloquent scripts that I have read,” said Cole Wagner, who portrays both Matthews and Polidori. “Robert beautifully tackles the intellectual (spirit) of the era.”
Following the reading, Mesmer, who relocated to Simi four years ago after 20 years in Hollywood, expressed his excitement for Miller as director. As actors, Mesmer and Miller had played older and younger versions of Hank Williams respectively for a jukebox musical.
“He has that confidence already,” Mesmer said. “This is right up his alley.”
Mesmer is no stranger to playing iconic characters, having portrayed everyone from the titular messiah in the Art Center’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” to the monstrous half of “Beauty and the Beast.”
For “Lightning,” Mesmer turned to Shelley’s novel for inspiration on how to portray Frankenstein’s creation, eschewing the more pop-culture interpretations as a slurring, inarticulate brute with neck electrodes lumbering around on platform boots. Come Feb. 9, Mesmer’s creature will appear zombie-ish, possessing cloudy eyes, long hair, bare feet and a cloak.
“He’s a like a sponge,” Mesmer said. “He becomes hyper-intellectual. So much that it hurts him.”

Literary liberties taken

“I’ve always been more fascinated with the back story,” said Weibezahl, who described these personages as wealthy, intellectual “19th-century hippies.”  
“Byron was like a rock star,” Weibezahl continued, while Shelley was only 19 when she hatched the “Frankenstein” idea and 21 when she wrote it. 
Shelley proves quite quotable in Weibezahl’s play. At one point, she describes Victor to Matthews as “a visionary and a coward.” At another, Capasso as Shelley says, “I prefer the reality of today over the possibilities of tomorrow.”
“I created the structure. Some of the dialogue was quoted from letters,” said Weibezahl.
That structure includes intercutting between Capasso’s older version of Mary Shelley, circa 1831, and Ridgway’s Younger Mary, circa 1817. More scenes with Frankenstein and his creature appear in the play’s second act, when creator and creation philosophically go mano-a-mano.
After Miller’s mother, executive producer Brenda Miller, approached Weibezahl with the play idea in summer 2015, the playwright, a Thousand Oaks resident of nearly 17 years, embarked on writing it.
“He took that idea and he made something very beautiful,” Hayes said.
Weibezahl fine-tuned the script after an initial reading last summer. By October 2016, the production held auditions at Thousand Oaks’ Bridge Academy and North Hollywood’s Madeline Clark Studio.
Long before snagging the lead, Capasso, who kept a dossier on Shelley during rehearsals, held a fascination for the author, having seen a National Theater Live production of “Frankenstein” (starring Benedict Cumberbatch) eight times.
“Her mother was a huge feminist before it was really a thing,’ Capasso said.
Weibezahl did employ artistic license writing “Lightning.” While Shelley wrote a preface to her 1831 second edition, Matthews is made up.
“He is what I would imagine an educated, middle-class publisher (and Shelley fan) of the era would be,” said Weibezahl, who also parallels in his play the inextricable link between Victor and monster with that of Shelley and “Frankenstein,” “bound together forever,” as Matthews states.
Cole Wagner, who portrays both Matthews and Polidori, feels that, two centuries later, Shelley’s source material remains timeless.
“Every year, the fan base gets stronger,” Wagner said. “One-hundred years from now, people will still be talking about it.”

“And Lightning Struck: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Creation,” runs Feb. 9-12 at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 E. Los Angeles Ave. For information/tickets, visit simi-arts.org