Wednesday, January 27, 2010

THE HANGOVER (2009) movie review haiku

Expectations high
Biggest comedy ever!
Fun if not classic

Monday, January 25, 2010

DETECTIVE COMICS # 426: Rockin' Robbins!

As much as I love the art of FRANK ROBBINS, I do not own every single issue he drew and/or wrote. So I just came across DETECTIVE COMICS # 426, in which three out of four stories were written by Robbins and two stories were drawn by him, and all I can say is that this issue has the most insane Batman story I've ever read....and the Joker doesn't even make a cameo!

The splash page begins with Batman, in full costume, weeping as he scrawls his suicide note to Robin, Batgirl and Superman (sorry, Alfred), with a .38 special sitting nearby on his desk. As always, it's one of those deceptive splash pages. Batman is not depressed. The issue actually involves a scheme that forces people into games of Russian Roulette. This story has "Art and Story by Frank Robbins." As does the next Batman story, in which he breaks into jail!

Needless to say, the art rocks. I love the way Robbins inks his work. And even the throwaway Batgirl piece by Robbins is drawn by Don Heck (as in IRON MAN) and the nonsensical Elongated Man (oy!) piece is beautifully rendered by Dick Giordano. If every issue of Batman were this much fun, I would have been the biggest Batman fan of all time. I'm not. But I'm definitely a diehard Robbins fan!

By the way, I don't know how the cover of the book (let alone the story) made it past the Comics Code people, but Robbins was a genius to push this story through without getting fired. I'd love to know the back story on this baby! WTF!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Movie review haiku: WHATEVER WORKS (2009), FALLEN ANGEL: GRAM PARSONS (2004)


Very funny film
The Woodman is back, baby!
Begley, Jr., too.


Absorbing doc on
Last of the great country guys
Sad end with a twist

Saturday, January 23, 2010

EXCLUSIVE! Javier Hernandez draws Ditko's THE HERO for CF blog!

I'm just toyin' wth my buddy, JAVIER HERNANDEZ, creator of EL MUERTO, AZTEC ZOMBIE, who just posted a nice essay on his affection and affinity for (and near spiritual experience with) the art of STEVE DITKO.

Yes, as Jav posts right here, Rob Imes has released DITKOMANIA #77, in which my column, DITKOTOMY, appears, once again with an illustration courtesy of Mr. H.

The issue's theme is Ditko's independent work, and Jav did a nice illustration of the Mocker for my essay on THE MOCKER and STATIC, my personal favorites of Ditko's post-Silver Age output. The ordering info is all right here in Jav's post.

DITKOMANIA#77 is also significant because Javier has also contributed a second illustration as well as his first essay to the 'zine. Which is a savage shocker, as somehow I'm not sure how I wound up contributing to DM before he did. As much as I love and appreciate the work of Steve Ditko, Javier's twice as devoted and twice as fast at picking up on anything Ditko. But whatever, it's only comic book 'zines, folks!

Today, to my chagrin, I missed the Art Clokey funeral service, which is going on in Los Osos, CA, right about now. But Javier's lively interpretations of Ditko's indy characters put the smile back on my face. Thanks, Jav! Today, you're MY Hero!

Plan Foiled by the Blockheads?

I was supposed to go up to Central Coast today to attend a memorial service for the late Art Clokey. Unfortunately, a monkey wrench gummed up the works and I won't be able to attend. Nevertheless, I hope the friends and family of Mr. Clokey have a great time remembering the late Gumby creator, who passed away on January 8. He was truly an original.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clooney Batman to Justice Society: I'll Shut You Dooowwwwwn....

Even Dr. Fate can not control his own destiny, it appears...

For the first time ever, I've been looking forward to an episode of SMALLVILLE, namely because they seem to be ditching their dumb "no tights no flights" rule (what's the point of a Superman show without Superman?) and going hog wild by introducing some kind of version of the Justice Society on the 2-hour season premiere.

This magical episode was supposed to air Jan. 22. Then George Clooney decided to hold his Haitian relief telethon on every single channel, which left me wondering whether or not this show would be postponed. Well, today I got my answer and for anyone else out there looking forward to seeing live-action Dr. Fate, Hawkman and Sandman on network TV, below is the delio, cribbed from another site.....

(Kudos to Clooney for his Haitian relief efforts, but I find it amusing that Clooney, who played the a-hole Batman who shut down Robin's motorcycle by remote control while Robin was about to jump off the Statue of Liberty, has now shut down the entire Justice Society....he really is the worst Batman ever!)


A number of readers emailed and asked if Friday's episode will be pre-empted by the Hope for Haiti Now telethon organized by George Clooney. We've been able to confirm that yes, the episode, "Disciple," has been pre-empted and will air on the 29th. Meanwhile Micheal Ausiello at Entertainment Weekly has discovered Perry White, in the form of Michael McKean, is making a return to the series. Also, Cassidy Freeman -- Tess Mercer on the series -- guest DJed on KCRW and the station has made her set available for streaming or download on their site.

New episode: January 29th, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The all-new CARTOON FLOPHOUSE company is on the way!

A reconfiguration of the CARTOON FLOPHOUSE imprint is currently in the works that will grow the company bigger, better, faster, stronger. And not a moment too soon: in this day of recession, depression, crazy weather, and all-around gloom, doom and despair, America needs humor comics! (Says who? Says we!)

There's a lot being planned at the moment for 2010 and 2011, and that includes a slate of comic books that will see new material featuring many of the CARTOON FLOPHOUSE stable of characters. Keep your peepers peeled on this site for an official announcement in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, just in time for Valentine's Day (aaawwww!), be sure to get the latest release, currently being shipped: FLOOP! FEATURING HARRY LUMMEL

Send a check made out to "Michael Aushenker" for $5 (plus $2 shipping) to:

Michael Aushenker
P.O. Box 480045
Los Angeles, CA

Michael Mann's PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009) movie review haiku

Despite mixed reviews
I loved this Dillinger tale
Michael, you da Mann

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


And speaking of special birthdays, today is a really major one for RICHARD CARRADINE, my best buddy and frequent collaborator on all kinds of writing and art-related mischief, not to mention the famed annual "Double Man Dinner" (to be explained another day or never!)

Rich, by the way, is the president of GHOULA (Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles), a group he co-founded with Lisa "Mouse" Strouss, a fellow cartoonist. They choose a (reportedly) haunted destination in the L.A. area to meet at on the 13th of every month, and Rich is currently preparing a book and a comic book that ties into the mission of his club. The book will most likely enjoy a reception at GHOULA's March meeting. For more information on GHOULA, visit

Rich is a talented writer and one of the funniest and most perceptive men on the planet and I'm lucky to have a friend as true and terrific as he is all these years, going back to our first day at Fairfax High when we were around 15 or 16 and realized that we shared all six classes.

He's always a loyal friend and a fun person to talk to. And he's found a wonderful partner in his wife, Angela, who I've known since high school as well.

Why, just last night, we met at the cafe and he gave me the Chutzpah I needed to get me through the week.

Rich, here's to a terrific 2010 and a lot more good times to come.....


Madman Artist Matt Lorentz is on a Roll....

My buddy MATT LORENTZ, a veteran artist of the surf 'n' skatewear circuit, had an art opening for a group of skateboard designs he displayed a day after his 35th birthday on January 14. Check out the photos from the gathering below in classy black and white! Matt is the guy with the soul patch thing going on!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy birthday, Matt, you skate rat!

I wanna wish my friend MATT LORENTZ a happy big important birthday today. Matt's an awesome artist who has designed super-rad skate wear images for everyone from Quicksilver to Tony Hawk. And he's one hell of a caricaturist!

Matt is awesome, he's the epitome of a Souther California artist, making his mark everywhere from San Diego to Tustin to Huntington Beach and back to San Diego!

Matt, hope you have a good birthday and, while we're still in the "Happy New Year" zone, have a very cool 2010!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For the love of Prickle.....

Dr. Fate is bad-ass...and who the hell is Star Girl?

Among my circle of friends (OK, just among me), we are looking forward to the Jan. 22 premiere of SMALLVILLE with its promise of delivering the Justice Society IN FULL COSTUME.

In fact, it's the only episode of SMALLVILLE I've ever looked forward to. This will be only the second or third episode of this show I will sit through, as I never cared for the out-of-costume teen drama schtick on this show.

But with commercials and photos online touting The Sandman, Dr. Fate, Hawkman and (I believe) Green Lantern and Green Arrow IN FULL COSTUME, I am there faster than Barry Allen racing Wally West!

I look forward to the sheer ridiculousness of this episode, I'm guessing there'll be something very awkward about the characters as presented on this show's low budget. Not sure who Star Girl is, don't even know if that's really from the comics, but hopefully she won't get in the way. One way or another, this should be a doozy!

If it's not a budget-buster, can I request Aquaman vs. Black Manta for a future episode?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy New Year from Mr. and Mrs. Jose Cabrera

Over the holidays, I received this terrific holiday greeting from my buddy, CRYING MACHO MAN cartoonist JOSE CABRERA and his wife, NAOMI, who are returning to Los Angeles after a trip to Mexico.

Jose is the funniest cartoonist out there working today (and he IS out there! ha-ha!). He and I will soon make a major announcement (but Naomi has nothing to worry about, we're not eloping). It will be an announcement that will, quite frankly, affect the future of funny books for years, weeks, days, maybe even minutes to come. Stay tuned to this blog. More to come.....

But in the meantime, Happy New Year, Jose and Naomi! All the best in 2010! More fun and good times to come! Thanks for the photo, it sure beats looking at the Baby New Year's diapered ass! And welcome back home!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Sky is Falling in Hollywood

It's entertainment-industry armageddon, folks! Jay Leno is out at 10 pm, Conan O'Brien may be out of NBC, Simon Cowell is out of "American Idol," Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire are off "Spider-Man 4" and Robert Downey, Jr. won't make "Cowboys & Aliens. Any other exits to announce today, Hollywood? There's still another 90 minutes left in the day!

Did Sony Pictures secretly hire Jeff Zucker?

Because this is one of the worst decisions they've ever made!

Question: Who is Spider-Man's biggest enemy? Is it....The Sandman? ....Dr. Octopus?...The Green Goblin?....How about...Mysterio?

Answer: It's Sony, bitch!

Letting go of Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, then returning to "Peter's roots," does not sound like a sound direction for the SPIDER-MAN movie franchise.

Who gives a flying fuck about Peter's roots? We already got the origin story in the first SPIDER-MAN movie.

Going SMALLVILLE all over Spider-Man sounds like a snore. We don't need TWILIGHT teen drama in our Spider-Man flicks.

This boldly stupid move also robs us of our chance to see Dr. Curt Connors become the Lizard once and for fucking all!!! Sam Raimi was no doubt warming up to that, they should've let him play it out. And what about his take on Mysterio? Sony, you crazy! You crazy, Sony!

Tobey Maguire was the heart and soul of those Spider-Man movies. Good luck finding an actor capable enough to tapping that mix of heroics and vulnerability.

And Sam Raimi is just about the only director out there who really gets the comic book aesthetic and can translate it on the screen. Good luck finding another director who has his chops and his savvy. And good luck to Sony, now officially the NBC of movie studios, whose theme song might go something like this: "Spider-Flop, Spider-Flop!"

But on the plus side, now maybe Sam Raimi can go back to making more great Sam Raimi flicks. Maybe even ARMY OF DARKNESS 2 (a.k.a. EVIL DEAD 4). Tobey Maguire can play in movies that might get him an Oscar.

Question: Who would be nuts enough to throw away nearly $1 billion box office gross per movie down the toilet? Answer: Sony.

Congratulations! "With great power comes great response-stupidity!"

Let's celebrate Art Clokey's great achievement in entertainment!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In Memory of ART CLOKEY (1921-2010), creator of GUMBY & POKEY

I just learned from Mel Smith, publisher of Gumby comics at WildCard Ink, that animator ART CLOKEY has passed away at the age of 88. He created Gumby and Pokey (and Prickle and Blockheads and Goo, not to mention "The Davey and Goliath Show").

I had the pleasure of meeting him once when I sought him out to write a foreword for my comic book THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES in 1995. He and his wife were terrific people. I'll tell that story in a future post.

My condolences to the extended Clokey family.

Thankfully, Clokey's terrific characters will continue to live on.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Cartoon World's Go-To Piece of Classical: Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody # 2"

OK, you Flophousers, it's time for a general election:

Which interpretation of Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody # 2" is the definitive version. Is it the version by......?

Bugs Bunny? (from "Rhapsody Rabbit")

Tom and Jerry? ("Cat Concerto")

Victor Borge and Rowlf? ("The Muppet Show")

Or Woody Woodpecker? ("Convict Concerto")

I'm partial to Woody, but I'd like to hear what others think.

Enjoy all four versions if you can make it through them without getting your eggs scrambled!

2010 is here...and so is FLOOP! FEATURING HARRY LUMMEL!

Thanks to those who have already ordered my upcoming comic book, FLOOP! FEATURING HARRY LUMMEL!

HARRY LUMMEL stars the titular character, an aspiring writer in a rocky relationship with his corporate executive dad's receptionist. Guaranteed, if you've ever been in a dysfunctional relationship, you will laugh as you ache with the pain of recognition! And if you haven't been in a bad relationship, here's your chance to enjoy one vicariously!

I'm continuing to take advance orders.

If you'd like to reserve a copy, please send a check --payable to Michael Aushenker -- for $5 (plus $2 for shipping in the US) to:

Michael Aushenker
PO Box 480045
Los Angeles, CA

Any questions about FLOOP! ?? Contact me at

Happy New Year,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Does director Sam Raimi still got it?

My answer is still "yes" even though my faith in Raimi as an artist has become somewhat shaky since 2004.

See, unlike every critic on Earth and a majority of fans of the SPIDER-MAN movies, I thought SPIDER-MAN 2 was the weakest of the three films. Yes, you read this right: even weaker than SPIDER-MAN 3.

Sure, SPIDER-MAN 3 was contrived and overstuffed, but they got the Sandman part of the movie right (I could've done without the whole Venom B-plot). And it was strong enough to carry the movie, even though I was thoroughly disturbed by the end revelation (over who shot Uncle Ben) which totally undermined the potency of Spider-Man's origin.

That said, SPIDER-MAN 2 misfired for me on many more levels. The pizza delivery "humor" that kicked off the movie was lame and boring, it took forever to really get going, the love triangle had grown repetitive and tiresome, and as much as I enjoyed Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus, the resolution was lame and I hated, despised the contrived stuff of getting his mask off in the subway fight and having the entire train car of New Yorkers keep his identity secret (yeah, riiiiiiiiiight).

The worst crime of SPIDER-MAN 2: I found the psychosomatic robbing of Peter Parker's powers too lame for words and problematic. My analogy is this: if you're having a bad week, do you lose your ability to drive a car? No! You might be distracted a little, but you can still drive, walk, talk, jog and run. Well, to Spider-Man, climbing a wall or lifting a Volkswagen bug is like driving, walking and talking, and to suggest that an emotional block would rob him of physical powers also undermines future adventures, as the implication is that if he's too emotionally overwhelmed, he'll lose his powers again. What a crock of pooh! (The walking off the job stuff was cool, though!)

By comparison, I found SPIDER-MAN 3 to have an element of MARVEL TEAM-UP, particularly with the climax. And the Sandman effects were pretty dazzling.

The first SPIDER-MAN is still my favorite of the three, despite its biggest flaw, the use of a clunky helmet on Willem Defoe, whose face, a special effect in itself, was suppressed. Imagine what a great Green Goblin that would have been had they used latex and allowed Defoe to use the same expressive range he did when he was out of costume.

I'm taking the long scenic route to say that I just saw DRAG ME TO HELL last week, a summer hit in which Raimi sets the SPIDER-MAN franchise on pause long enough to turn to his horror-comedy roots.

Based on DRAG ME TO HELL, which was cinematic cotton candy -- tasty and colorful if low on nutritional value -- I believe that Raimi is still a master of the genre, even though I enjoyed this 2009 flick less than DARKMAN and ARMY OF DARKNESS (my two favorite Raimi films). I might have even enjoyed it less than EVIL DEAD 2 . But I still enjoyed it.

DRAG ME TO HELL was a nice reunion of Raimi with his best writing partner, his brother Ivan (last I heard, a working surgeon in the Valley by day, screenwriter by night).

It was nice to see Raimi do a non-Spidey film before the decade was officially up. And as I'm reading that SPIDER-MAN 4 has been delayed due to script problems, I hope Raimi will continue to challenge himself as a director and pursue his non-Marvel muse.

I remember the exhilaration of interviewing Raimi for this interview back in 2002. It was one of the best interviews I've ever had the privilege to write up and I still believe that Raimi is one of the most clever directors working in Hollywood today, even if his material has been sometimes beneath his talents in recent years. Perhaps the new decade will be kind to Raimi. If not, there's always Werner Herzog.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best Movies of the Decade: 2000-2009

By now, you have read all manner of best of the decade lists. I think technically the new decade starts in 2011 but whatever, I'll join the party. Here's my list of movies that I really enjoyed this decade, although not in any order (...and I know I'm gonna forget a few, too, if so, I'll add 'em later...):


"Inglourious Basterds"
"Broken Flowers"
"Team America World Police"
"The Dark Knight"
"The Incredible Hulk"
"The Inside Man"
"Frozen River"
"School for Scoundrels"
"The Royal Tenenbaums"
"The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"
"The Darjeeling Limited"
"Fantastic Mr. Fox"
"In The Mood for Love"
"Wendy and Lucy"
"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"Dogtown and Z-Boys"
"40-Year-Old Virgin"
"Talladega Nights: The Legend of Bobby Ricky"


"No Country For Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"
"Iron Man"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Brokeback Mountain"


"Spider-Man 2"
"Slumdog Millionaire"
"Some Kind of Monster"