Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Finally caught up with THE WOLF-MAN, Benicio del Toro's, uh, pet project. I thought it was a little snoozy but overall good enough. It was a tough slog in places, particularly the slow beginning, but I enjoyed the mix of elements from the original WOLF-MAN, FRANKENSTEIN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK and, if you can believe it, a climactic battle that kind of echoed the abysmal ending of that Mike Nichols dog WOLF, but done way better here, in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT fashion. Yeah, this is as close as we can get to a WEREWOLF BY NIGHT movie that no one is clamoring for but me.
I'm not sure why the critics kept dwelling on the gore in their reviews, but I saw the unrated (not theatrical) version on DVD and while it was violent, no more so than other R rated films of this ilk. Who knows?
A note from a quasi-talent on the show that the complete THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN is now on DVD.
A note from a quasi-talent on the show that the complete THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN is now on DVD.
Finally, why must George Lucas keep putzing around with his STAR WARS films. 3D is not going to make those last three clunkers better. Is this guy ever going to get over STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES and make something new ever again? A sad, creative dead end, despite all the billions he made off of lousy sequels!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Just a reminder or refresher or first-time notifier that the latest CARTOON FLOPHOUSE comics will be sold at APE (Alternative Press Expo) in San Francisco on October 16-17.
Visit CARTOON FLOPHOUSE madmen Jose Cabrera of CRYING MACHO MAN fame and myself, Michael Aushenker, at our table, listed under CARTOON FLOPHOUSE/CRYING MACHO MAN.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
He turns 67 today. Happy birthday to the cartoonist who anticipated "Itchy & Scratchy" by a good decade (but perhaps not "Tom and Jerry"....)
Speaking of Hanna-Barbara, while we're at it, check out this very prehistoric FLINTSTONES test reel, a prototype Flintstones, with different character designs and voices!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"Gumby's Gang Starring Pokey" writer Michael Aushenker.
"Gumby's Gang Starring Pokey" artist RAFAEL NAVARRO.
Hey, Gumby and Pokey peeps!
Artist Rafael Navarro and myself are going to sign GUMBY'S GANG #1 STARRING POKEY (WildCard Ink/Gumby Comics) at the HI DE HO comic book shops in November/December.
POKEY hits stores in November. We'll be signing at the original Santa Monica Hi De Ho shop on Sat., Nov. 20 and at the shiny new Hi De Ho store in Laguna Beach on Sat., Dec. 4.
I'll be there, Raf will be there, Gumby may be there, too. Oh, and did we mention the book is a lot of fun? Pick it up, even if you can't make it..and RETAILERS, this is the month to order it for your store, look it up under "WildCard." (Rafael and I are happy to do a signing, esp. in the So. Cal area.)
* Bloop! *
Monday, September 20, 2010
3rd Annual SAN GABRIEL VALLEY COMICS FEST was a hit! Rodriguez and Carradine make graceful convention debuts!
Photos provided by Jim Lujan.
Check out this cool self-portrait jam including cartoonists Jose Cabrera, Ted Seko, Grasiela Rodriguez, Arvie from Agimat Productions, Sherm Cohen, Bernyce Talley, Jim Lujan, Raul Aguirre from the Cartoonistas, the mysterious Robert Zailo, and myself. Where did this doodlefest come from? How did this happen?
Well, it was that time of year again. On Sunday, Sept. 19, a gaggle of gag cartoonists, animators, authors and comic book artists reunited to hawk their wares at the 3rd Annual San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival, sponsored by Nuvein Foundation, at the Cuban Club in El Monte.
Here are my tablemates and two of my best friends, fellow CARTOON FLOPHOUSE cartoonist Jose Cabrera of CRYING MACHO MAN fame and Rich Carradine, author of the book THE PARK AFTER DARK, rife with Disneyland ghost stories and illustrations. The three of us rode down to do the show from the Miracle Mile district.
At my table, I sold the usual: a plethora of Greenblatt the Great! gag cartoons and El Gato, Crime Mangler comics. However, the newest book I had on sale, the all-ages SILLY GOOSE, was my biggest seller this time around.
The guy with his back to the camera was cool: Frank Hansen, a talented animated cartoonist. What you can't see is that he's sporting an old school Woody Woodpecker hat! Suh-WEET!
Another best friend, the great Javier Hernandez, continues to expand his rep as the "King of Merch." He came armed with homemade dolls of Steve Ditko characters such as Spider-Man and the Creeper! Javier is a founding organizer of SGV Comics Fest and it's to his credit and efforts that this convention grows with every year. This year's fest brought about 60 to 100 people. Not bad for a grass roots show! (I'm sure this figure will double within two years!) In this photo, Jav asserts himself visually as the Edgar Allan Poe of the Cartoonistas! Creepy! Halloween and Dia de los Muertos must be just around the corner.....
When Jav isn't selling El Muerto, Aztec Zombie comics, he's naturally dabbling in what he learned in Professional Portraiture Poses 101 with fellow classmate Jim Lujan.
Rafael "Raffles" Navarro ("Sonambulo" comics) and I were extra happy to be plugging our own books and pushing our latest joint effort, GUMBY'S GANG STARRING POKEY (WildCard Ink), a full-color extravaganza starring Art Clokey's classic characters which will be out in comic book shops in November. (Look to this site for signing announcements soon!)
This was a special convention for Rich Carradine, as it was his first ever. His book, "The Park After Dark," is a byproduct of the efforts of his organization, the well-attended monthly social club GHOULA (Ghost Hunters of Urban L.A.), which he co-founded with cartoonist Lisa Strouss. Myself, Raf Navarro and Jav Hernandez will be among the cartoonists featuring work in Rich's upcoming GHOULA COMICS #1, due to debut at APE Convention in San Francisco @Halloween. (His book did really well at this show, by the way.)
Jim Lujan and Jose Cabrera are the barely smiling- and smiling macho men here. I picked up Jim's new DVD, BENCH WARRANT and his previous release, GHETTOMATION GARDEN, which I'm looking forward to digging into. I've seen many of these shorts before but there's nothing like seeing them on the plasma screen instead of on YouTube! Jim is evidently the Cartoonistas' version of the Mona Lisa.
Jose and Rich are usually pretty bored when I'm not at my booth. They might have also bickered over lost revenue due to customer poaching at the moment this shot was taken.
On the right is skeptical Sherm Cohen. Sherm is ignoring the Lady Gaga hype and continuing his career as an animator extraordinaire, now with the new FISH HOOKS on Disney Channel (debuting Friday), despite Lujan's insistence that disco is not dead and going pop over phat beats is the way to go. (Very distracting, Jim! Leave us alone with that b.s., OK?) Look for Sherm himself (not a drawing) in those FISH HOOKS shows.
Sherm used to work on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS (heard of it?) with Ted Seko, who still storyboards the hit toon. Ted, who podcasts on comic-book industry issues regularly, can tackle any convention, and here he's hulking out after learning that someone confused him with his comic book character Billy Cole. Does this look like a flying naked baby to you, punk?
Ted is trying hard to tap into his inner Bill Bixby when yet another guy accuses Ted of practicing self-portraiture with his Billy Cole character.
"Deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths!"
Here, photographer Jim Lujan makes the same mistake, and this is the last thing Lujan saw before everything went black and he woke up asking for Mummy. On an aside, Ted handpainted this awesome rendition of Monster Monolith from his ATTACK OF THE SUPERMONSTERS comic just for the 3rd annual SGV Comic Fest. (It's personally my favorite of Ted's creations.)
After organizing the Comics Fest, Javier was on a roll so he organized a big post-convention dinner celebration at the nearby El Sombrero restaurant, where we all stuffed ourselves like taxidermists! I had to be rolled out of this restaurant after ordering the Mom's Burrito (sans rice and beans, mind you!). Top right is Grasiela Rodriguez, who also enjoyed her convention debut with her new LUNATIC FRINGE comic book. Already a talented animator, she's taken to comics to crush us on all fronts. Sweetening the deal, those of us who bought her new book received pretty pink cupcakes baked by Raul's wife, candy necklaces, and, best of all, a beautifully produced comic book! Buy LUNATIC FRINGE, it's delicious!
Rich and Jose STILL not talking to each other over that lost sale. Come on, guys, we're talking ten bucks here! (Boy, was the drive home awkward!)
Friday, September 17, 2010
Nah, there's no beach, just us cartoonists! We'll be selling our latest humor comics. Come join Cabrera and Aushenker for more humor comics hilarity. All the info's right here: The 3rd Annual SGV Comics Fest is on!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Fun times at this year's CAPS banquet at the WWII-themed 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant near the Van Nuys airport, where my friend Russ Heath was honored. Russ and I bonded at a shoot for the TV show NUMB3RS in November 2007, alongside CAPSers Tone Rodriguez and Anson and Benton Jew. What I love about Russ is that he's always good humored and quick with the wit! And he's got anecdotes galore!
I had never been to or heard of the restaurant before this banquet, and the decor was pretty comical (of course, appropo for Heath given the art he's known for). It looked like a place The Invaders would descend on...or at the very least, where WWII Snoopy would stop in for a root beer. The cocktail hour was held in a replica of a bombed-out bunker, and the Lindsay Sisters, in Andrew Sisters fashion, sang some tributes to Russ, who will be 84 this month. I'm guessing standing alongside them that trio took him back to his days at the Playboy Mansion in Chicago, where he was one of Hugh Hefner's favorite cartoonists, partying it up Mike Sekowsky style.
Thankfully, this year, I was seated at one of the cool tables with the two Phils, Yeh and Ortiz, who always make for good dinner company; their guests; the one and only Jim Wheelock; and the other one and only, my buddy Jerry Boyd, a fellow BACK ISSUE magazine contributor. Boyd and I were coincidentally wearing matching charcoal pinstripe suits (that's going to be a nightmare once the photos hit the tabs!).
Boyd has been coming to CAPS banquets since 2007, when we double-honored the great Jack Davis and surprised the great Sergio Aragones with a Sergio Award of his own. That year was definitely one of the all-time best banquets, along with the Stan Lee, Jerry Robinson, and Jonathan Winters years.
A good time was had by us cartoonists (well, with the crazy exception of one kiddie-comics illustrator who was apparently in an ugly mood and got his short-pants in a bunch....). It was fun catching up with Russ, Sergio, Stan Sakai, both Phils, Jerry, Jim, Brad Rader (whose new FOGTOWN graphic novel looks awesome), the Jew Bros., and the one and only Mell Lazarus.
One down side: my partner-in-crime on GUMBY'S GANG STARRING POKEY, the artist Rafael Navarro, was unable to make it this year...but thankfully, I saw him late the night before at the party Jose Cabrera and I hosted at Geeks Comics Shop in Uptown Whittier. So in the big cosmic picture, Mr. N was weaved into the tapestry of this cartoonist party weekend.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Just noticed the similarities in this poster for BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA and the cover of the NWA EP 100 MILES AND RUNNIN'. The pulpy, painterly quality....a similar color scheme...oh, yeah, and action-packed! Warren Oates and Eazy-E & Dr. Dr: a decade and a half apart, cut from the same cloth!
Somehow this song and video got past me: DMX, Method Man, Nas, and X's arch-nemesis Ja Rule in "Grand Finale." The backing music sounds cribbed from Dr. Dre/NWA. This is nuts!
And while I'm at it, here are some classic NWA videos for "100 Miles and Runnin'" and "Appetite for Destruction". Pure adrenalin. They don't make musically hardcore rap like this no more.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Every culture has a calendar. Well, tonight, it's our turn to turn another page and start a new year.
No, the above is not an image of settlers along the West Bank! New Years are always bittersweet occasions, and coincidentally and very recently (on my sister's birthday, as it turned out), David Dortort, best known as the creator of one of my dad's favorite TV shows, "Bonanza," passed away on September 5th.
It's easy to forget these days that "Bonanza" was a blockbuster show in its day, when the show ran for 14 years.
Dortort was Jewish in the best sense of the word. He was a creative guy and a mensch, donating millions to education. Here's an article I did in 2002, when I had the pleasure of interviewing David at his Bel-Air home.
By the way, my dad also loved "Hawaii Five-O," which ran for 12 years and which I really dug, too. I don't think this new remake of the show on CBS is going to go over well with either of us, and in my household it'll probably last for 12 minutes before I turn it away. "Five-O" without Jack Lord is like "Dragnet" without Jack Webb....and those of you who saw that Tom Hanks movie know what I'm talking about!!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Jack Kirby (like Steve Ditko, fellow industry groundbreaker) has as many fans as he does detractors. How can that be? What gives? Was he a genius or glorified hack?
I don't begrudge those who don't dig the Ditko or Kirby because these prolific stylists did a lot of brilliant work and a lot of not-so-brilliant work. The latter is understandable as they were basically in a business where they had to dance for their dinner (for not a whole lot of shekels) and create a ton of work on very short deadlines. They didn't exactly work comfortably, with the luxury of a fat paycheck to poop out a book whenever they felt like it as Darwin Cooke or David Mazzucchelli might these days. It was just a different age. Ironic how those who have enjoyed entire careers benefitting from (and "paying homage to") these masters have made so much more money than the pioneers themselves. Whatever.
It's mind-boggling to think of the amount of titles Jack Kirby was juggling at once while at DC in the early 1970s. They included tremendously detailed work in SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN, NEW GODS, OMAC, KAMANDI, MISTER MIRACLE and plenty of fleeting flirtations with failed titles (such as SANDMAN, JUSTICE INC., MANHUNTER, and RICHARD DRAGON, KUNG-FU FIGHTER. While KAMANDI was pure eye-candy set in a PLANET OF THE APES-post-apocalyptic world, my personal favorite of his DC work was THE DEMON, a moody little occultish title that self-contained and not a dense, ongoing saga like JIMMY OLSEN or NEW GODS.
Following DC, Kirby hit Marvel in the mid-to-late 70s, where he returned to CAPTAIN AMERICA, took over BLACK PANTHER, drew DEVIL DINOSAUR, tried but failed to launch a book based on THE PRISONER TV series, and even executed an INVADERS cover or two. During this period, I preferred above all his output his MACHINE MAN, he wrote and drew before handing over the book to Ditko. It was a spin-off from his take on Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY that outlasted and outshined the source title. MACHINE MAN might be one of the best Marvel B-titles of the 70s: I would put this one on the top shelf alongside THE HUMAN FLY, THE INVADERS, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, GHOST RIDER, BROTHER VOODOO, SON OF SATAN and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE.
Monday, September 6, 2010
....ask yourself: "What would Modok take?"
The end of Labor Day Weekend is just minutes away....I'm listening to a podcast of some weird radio show on which Jack Kirby is being interviewed. He's discussing Captain America, Fantastic Four, Big Barda, and the upcoming importance that the computer will play in our daily lives (this was back in 1985).
It's been fun and productive weekend. I completed two new Greenblatt the Great! strips and came up with ideas for two new ones, which I'm itchin' to get to! One of the strips was inspired by a trip to the 99 cent store, the other came out of nowhere and is so extreme, I had to laugh and say to myself: "Do it! Don't overthink it, just do it!" Both will wind up in GREENBLATT THE GREAT! #4, to be released in 2011. Here's the cover, drawn by myself and colored by my CARTOON FLOPHOUSE company compadre, Jose Cabrera:
The more Greenblatts I can come up with, the fatter my page count will get.....or I'll tuck them away toward GTG! #5.......we'll see. One thing's for sure: Greenblatt the Great! #4 will have the most laughs in it since the 1997 horror film Anaconda!
Friday, September 3, 2010
Just in time for the Jewish holiday season, it's the First Annual Cartoon Flophouse Lecture on Comedy (or, as we like to call it, "Jose and Michael winging it in a roomful of free pizza").
Seriously (humorously?), come down and hang out, Mr. C and I will be talking about some of our influences and why we take the art form of humor comics seriously (no, humorously!). We'll also have some comics to sign and sell.
Jose Cabrera, if you don't already know, is the mastermind behind CRYING MACHO MAN. Check out both of our CARTOON FLOPHOUSE lines of comic books right here at CartoonFlophouse.com!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The ink is barely dry on CARTOON FLOPHOUSE #3 (which I'll be selling at the ALTERNATIVE PRESS EXPO in San Francisco, Oct. 16-17), and I'm well underway creating CARTOON FLOPHOUSE FEATURING GREENBLATT THE GREAT! #4, which will feature brand new Greenblatt strips (in my opinion, the best strips since issue #1) and a new back-up feature, LI'L TAMANEGI, everyone's favorite cute li'l Korean moppet in a bunch of cute li'l adventures. CF/GTG! #4 will be headed your way in early 2011.
Above is the cover of CARTOON FLOPHOUSE #4, with some cool color work by my CF compadre, JOSE CABRERA of CRYING MACHO MAN fame!
Also on tap for 2011: a new THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES comic book, a second installment of SILLY GOOSE (fun for the whole fam!), and the EL GATO, CRIME MANGLER trade paperback (collecting all El Gato tales plus lots of unpublished extras) in time for SD COMIC-CON 2011.
Stay tuned, Flophousers! The CARTOON FLOPHOUSE humor comics revolution has just begun!