Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Joe Kubert....

A memento from Wonder Con 2010 at the Moroscone Center in San Francisco. Running into the great cartoonist...creator of the UNKNOWN SOLDIER.....founder (obviously) of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chestnut from 2007 CAPS banquet: Thank-you note from Stan Lee

Above is the note I received from Marvel Comics writer/creator/legend Stan Lee after the 2007 CAPS (Comic Art Professional Society) Banquet. In the note, he's referring to "Ironic Man," the short spoof below that I did long ago that was included in the program for the Lee tribute. This is why he has always been comics' greatest ambassador...The fact that he took the time to personally thank each attendee with a handwritten note shows what a class act ol' Smilin' Stan is. 'Nuff said!

Friday, September 16, 2011

2 New CARTOON FLOPHOUSE comic books at Alternative Press Expo, table#109

Behold! TWO new GREENBLATT THE GREAT! books will be available at APE in San Francisco, Oct. 2 and 3rd. Stop by booth #109, just for laughs!

For more information on the APE convention, go here!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today...

I'd like to share a story...

Ten years ago, I was working at the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles as a staff writer. I woke up early and saw what was happening in NYC on TV ("The Today Show," I believe...) and so I called and woke up both of my editors at the Journal, Rob Eshman and Amy Klein, to notify them what was playing out.

The events of 9/11 happened on a Tuesday, which was the day before our paper went to press, so we had to overhaul the entire paper and cover art that day. My editors joked, "Why couldn't this have happened on a Monday?" (Gallows humor, of course...no one was happy that day).

Now it's 10 years later, and they're running the same cover of the bombed-out World Trade Centers on this week's Jewish Journal. Full circle.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday to my sister Melody!

Today is her very big day during a very special time in her life (pictured here with her husband Tom). I love and miss my little sis!

Friday, September 2, 2011



This book is officially at the printers and will be available at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) 2011 in San Francisco on Oct. 1 and 2......so be sure to swing by and get it.

What's in it? Oh, only 92 pages of Greenblatt the Great! goodness -- wacky absurdism at its most absurd! It's the complete Greenblatt the Great! book, folks, with several new features including gag strips about death, dating, Dillinger, and a haunted ghost tour of Pacific Palisades.

You can also order the book by forwarding $10 plus $3 shipping to the mailing address at CARTOONFLOPHOUSE.COM: Michael Aushenker, P.O. Box 25, Santa Monica, CA 90406
... or, soon, via Amazon.com (link to come in a future post).

Friday, August 19, 2011


Book will make its debut at Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on Oct. 1 & 2. Introducing Li'l Tamanegi (that's Japanese for Li'l Onionface), everyone's favorite little devilish Korean moppet. You won't wanna miss this wild book. It's like spaghetti.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

...CAPTAIN AMERICA...Major Disappointment!

Forget coming out and siding openly with Republicans or Democrats, this is the post where I lose a bunch of Facebook friends...

Finally saw CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER last night and I was really, really, extra, super, mega disappointed.

Unlike with the THOR trailer, which I didn't like but the movie turned out to be entertaining, I should have trusted my instincts on the lousy CAPTAIN AMERICA trailer. (Although I love the CAP comics and the characters, so it's inevitable that I had to see this one for myself on the big screen.)

My criticisms:

Overall, this movie was long, tedious, and boring...and it took forever to get this train on track. It needs a good edit, especially with the first half. I can't imagine sitting through this one a second time, it was paced so badly.

Once the story gets going, that whole Red Skull/cosmic cube storyline is not that great...and by the end of the movie, the storyline seems to be basically a direct Rainbow Bridge to the inevitable Avengers movie.

A lot of people criticized the choice of Chris Evans online just because he played the cocky Human Torch. Chris Evans was a good choice...and, yes, since he's an actor, he can play the opposite with Steve Rogers: humble and heroic. So that casting never bothered me. That is the least of this movie's problem.

The Red Skull was good enough, although, I think in light of more emotionally complex villains in Marvel movies, such as Loki and Magneto this summer, the Red Skull comes off as a simplistic, old-school cartoon evil villain. Which is about right for the Red Skull if you've ever read CAPTAIN AMERICA comics. So I guess that was good enough but a tad dissatisfying.

What I thought was clever was that they explained the whole Captain America identity initially as an Uncle Sam character to rouse soldiers and Americans during the war. That was a good move and a logical explanation for an otherwise corny alter ego.

A little too much character development and origin stuff before we get to the primo Cap stuff. We also get an entire movie's worth of prototype Captain America costumes...I know it makes sense to save the good costume for the (contemporary) Avengers movie and ground the costumes in reality, but I still don't like these costumes...

That first mission was ridiculous...Did he need to take the phony shield with him on the mission (after all, it wasn't vibranium or whatever) and with a giant American flag on his back, he sneaks around inconspicuously through the Hydra facility. Other than liberating the Howling Commandos, which could've been elsewhere in the movie, this whole part of the movie was unnecessary filler, delaying us from seeing him with the "real" costume/shield.

Way too many contrivances, such as the Nazi escaping in the submarine waiting for him off the dock...Tommy Lee Jones and Sgt. Carter arriving with the car as Red Skull's plane is about to launch...Rogers guessing a phony baseball game on the radio because he happened to be at that game, etc....a million little silly moments like that. Not to mention Red Skull's silly bombs with the names of American cities on 'em. Seriously? They're painting exposition on the side of the bomb props!

They made the Red Skull and Hydra beyond Nazis, so we don't actually get to see Cap do some Nazi-smashing...which defeats the original point of this character.

The zipline to the roof of the train move was cool but ultimately absurd and unnecessary. That whole train battle was kind of dubious.

The romantic tension between Cap and Carter never ignites in a real way. Ultimately, Captain America is turned into a kamikaze pilot (remember, he doesn't know he's going to survive the ages trapped in ice as he crashes Red Skull's plane). I'm not sure how I feel about that part, I think I would've preferred to see him wind up in ice during battle (maybe while fighting the Red Skull on the crashing plane and this way they both get iced and we get the extra threat of Red Skull surviving into modern times...instead Red Skull gets the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Nazi leader special at the end.)

Another nitpick: What was the point, truly, of that mindfuck 1941 apartment environment that Rogers wakes up in other than to try and trick the audience? Isn't he going to look out the window and see that the cityscape is just a big screen? That was funny.

Finally, it's a contest to see who is phoning in their performance the hardest: Tommy Lee Jones or Sam Jackson. Jones wins since has more screen time. I've never seen Jones look so out of it on screen. He took the money and ran...

After a summer that gave us two terrific Marvel movies in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and THOR, I have to regulate CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER to the bottom of the Marvel barrel, where gross stuff like WOLVERINE, IRON MAN 2, GHOST RIDER, Ang Lee's HULK, and ELEKTRA sticks to the ground. It's not nearly as bad as those movies, but given that the source material is Jack Kirby's Captain America (the first comic book I ever read was a Lee/Kirby Cap), the stakes are greater and it's failings make this movie much more disappointing for me.

(OK, to everyone de-friending me right now, it's been nice knowing ya!)

Monday, August 8, 2011

50 Years Ago Today: The Marvel Revolution Officially Began...

Aug. 8, 1961.

Even though I was not yet born when this issue came out 50 years ago today, this book was destined to change and shape my life. Can you dig it?

Growing up, there was nothing like Marvel Comics, and I'll never forget the joy they showered unto my childhood. The first comic book I ever bought was this one, MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE #10, with a Lee/Kirby Cap feature and a Lee/Colan Iron Man back-up story:

If you've read enough Marvel Comics, there's nothing special about this issue...Just another book for Lee and the gang...Yet another comic that pitted Cap against the Red Skull, Iron Man vs. Growing Man, etc.

Oh, except that this issue was VERY special when you're only six years old, G, and it's the very first comic book that you've ever read! (Purchased by my grandparents for me, when I was age 6, off the spinner rack at Irving's Pizza in Canarsie, Brooklyn.)

Fifty years ago today, the great Jack Kirby, via Mr. Fantastic's flare gun, fired the first shot of a revolution heard around the world: the true beginning of modern Marvel Comics.

FF#1 and all of the other Stan Lee-written comics of the 1960s, with imaginative art by Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Don Heck, Wally Wood, Bill Everett, and Johns Romita and Buscema, collectively since dubbed the Silver Age of Comics, were game-changing. The most influential American comics short of, perhaps, those original Superman and Batman comics...but I loved Marvel Comics more!

As a result of this titantic issue above, I continued to squander my allowance on Marvel Comics throughout the '70s and '80s, and I kept drawing, and I yearned to make a career based around creating, writing, drawing, comics, etc.

Then, somewhere in 1993, as American comics plunged face-first into the Digital Age, Marvel Comics put a rocket pack on its back and dove into a giant toilet while DC Comics sunk like a damn anchor. See, Stan Lee and all those original cats who drew the hell out of those books were long gone...and with it, they took the creativity and innovation. The House of Ideas became a House of Recycled Ideas.

Who knew that the landmark year of 1986 -- when "Watchmen" and "The Dark Knight Returns" were released, they not only signified a watershed of mature and sophisticated superhero comics that this was more or less the last time we would see such superhero comics.

Thanks to the future Image artists, Photoshop, sycophantic Watchmen/DKR "grim 'n' gritty" copycats, and the corrosive influence on superhero comics by the popularization of manga (no offense to manga, a fine comics form in its own right that is superb when the Japanese cartoonists do it...), Marvel and DC Comics were bled dry of their charm, style, and new ideas.

Thank goodness for Hollywood, or else there'd be nothing exciting about Marvel anymore (and even that can be hit or miss...)

(Note: This is not a rant against comics in general. The comic book form has never been more ambitious and glorious. The world of comics is alive with amazing art comics, autobio comics, humor comics, kiddie comics, historical comics, slice-of-life comics, European and Asian comics, webcomics...In other words, every sector of comics EXCEPT the superhero stuff.)

Instead of scratching their heads and trying to figure out why superhero comics don't sell anymore, perhaps the executives working at these glorified toilet machines they have the nerve to still call Marvel and DC should start by looking at issue #1 --- no, not issue #1 of their crappy re-numbered comics (which are no better than the crappy comics they've published for the past 20 years) but FANTASTIC FOUR #1--- and try to honestly figure out how and why Stan Lee and company made superhero comics so magical and exciting.


In most cases, remakes, sequels and prequels make me cringe...but sometimes a good reboot is a good opportunity to start over and try something fresh without insulting the source material.

Tim Burton's PLANET OF THE APES (2001) was NOT such a film, but RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is.

I'm an old-school POTA fan. I grew up digging the original and its increasingly less-satisfying sequels. I recently re-watched episodes of the POTA TV show and they hold up pretty damn dirty well for a one-hour show based on APES. So what I don't want to see is another cheesy, creatively vacant POTA blockbuster like Burton's movie (the ape makeup aside).

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES managed to offer an alternate take on the POTA mythology that felt fresh and fun. The CG, for once, is pretty amazing, as they've made a sympathetic character out of Ceasar. You wind up rooting for the apes to win, but that means betting against us humans. I don't want to overhype RISE/APES, it's not a classic and it will no way ever upstage the chilling effect of the clever original APES movies on me and my childhood. But if you go in with an open mind, it's a very entertaining movie with charms all its own.

I also caught the HARRY POTTER finale this weekend. I'm not a big fan of the series, I've only seen three of these movies, and I enjoyed Part I of Deathly Hallows more than this one, but Part II was decent and an okay wrap-up to a series that I'm not that emotionally invested in (only read the first book). I was hoping Harry would use the Elder Wand to resurrect Dobby the House Elf, who bit it in the last movie...but that selfish bastard only thinks about himself. Oh, well....Entertaining...but I personally enjoyed RISE/APES way more.

I've moaned all summer how bad THOR looked based on its trailer and print ads, but THOR, as it turned out, was not the THORture I expected. Some of my first impressions held true: Asgard looks chinsy-phony at times (although the Rainbow Bridge was cool), the multi-racial Asgard is a stretch, Anthony Hopkins kind of phones in this role for the 1,000th time, and they gave Destroyer nothing to destroy in that one-horse New Mexico town (Kirby would've placed the battle in Manhattan with millions of lives hanging in the balance). That said, like X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, the two stars of THOR carried this movie on their shoulders. That is, the actors playing Thor and Loki. Natalie Portman is easy on the eyes but I always found her to be an unconvincing actress and an irritant - here, unlike in so many other movies, her unimpressive, flat acting does not get in the way of the fun. The Hawkeye cameo will take some work to pick out. The Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury needs to drive himself off of a cliff. He's such a load.

So far, in this summer's superhero derby, I rank X-MEN: FIRST CLASS first, followed by THOR and GREEN LANTERN (unfortunately) at the bottom. I'm going to see CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER this week so we'll see where that falls among these movies.

If only those Marvel execs had not pissed off Ed Norton, we might've had our HULK sequel by now, co-starring The Leader. Instead we got GREEN LANTERN's creepy Hector Hammond. Yuck.

Two movies that stood out for me this summer that I caught up with on DVD/Netflix were both from 2009: "9" (which came out on Sept-9-09--get it?), and "Brooklyn's Finest."

The animated Tim Burton-produced "9," which took a familiar kind of concept but executed it very well. It might be, indirectly, reminiscent of another futureshock animated feature "Wall-E." For homogenous creatures with numerical names, "9" and its animators breathed a lot of life and personality into these characters. I enjoyed "Coraline" at the time but I don't remember it anymore, I think "9" will stick with me. Do not confuse this movie with "Nine," that dumb musical.

Highly-recommended: "Brooklyn's Finest" is by the same director who gave us "Training Day," but this one is way better. (I enjoyed "Training Day" but found Denzel Washington's performance too showy and scenery-chewing by the movie's end.) This corrupt cops movie 'Brooklyn's Finest" kind of came and went, but it's more grounded in reality and the acting in this movie is tremendous: Don Cheadle is especially in fine form (as if anticipating his crappy role the following year in "Iron Man 2")...Wesley Snipes, Richard Gere, and even Ethan Hawke all pull their weight and give powerhouse performances. Ellen Barkin has a good scene. You've probably never heard of this film, which is too bad...It really warrants some word of mouth. Kind of like a good '70s Hollywood movie with an excellent climactic finale. A really nice surprise and one of the best films I've seen in a while.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Those RISE guys in P & A

I'm glad RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is getting great reviews, I'm looking forward to seeing this film...as long as it veers away from the 2001 Tim Burton film.

The marketeers of this one did a great job on the poster. I enjoy the simplicity of this image and the incorporation of the original (or near original) POTA font. A stark image...and Ceasar's scheming eyes.

It sure beats the CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER poster campaign where they don't even show Cap's mask in favor of Chris Evans' face. You'd think the movie's about the WWII adventures of a blond guy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


At long last, the final ish of my four GREENBLATT THE GREAT! comic book magazines will debut at APE (Alternative Press Expo '11) on Oct. 1 and 2 in San Francisco. It's CARTOON FLOPHOUSE FEATURING GREENBLATT THE GREAT! #4, folks.

Special thanks to my pal JOSE CABRERA of CRYING MACHO MAN fame who helped me with the technical execution of this cover design. Jose also applied his talents to the first issue of CARTOON FLOPHOUSE FEATURING GREENBLATT THE GREAT!

I'm also vying to have the complete GREENBLATT THE GREAT! collection in trade paperback form by the show.

And while some of the #4 strips will be in that collection, not all of them will. Namely, the main event of CF magazine #4: the saga of LI'L TAMANEGI, a devilish little Korean moppet who is something akin to Hello Kitty with dark edges. By the way, "Tamanegi" is the Japanese word for "onion face."

Expect other surprises in the mag as well, including our first ever Greenblatt the Great! letters page...(Oops! There goes one surprise...)

Here's all the skinny on APE. My table will be listed under CartoonFlophouse.com and I'll be elbow to elbow with my buddy Javier Hernandez of EL MUERTO AZTEC ZOMBIE notoriety, who will have HIS new book, an intriguing superhero/fantasy hybrid called THE COMA. (So don't sleep on our table, OK?).

I can't recommend the A.P.E. show enough. While Comic-Con is a great experience, as a convention itself, it's my favorite: about 6,000 people across two days at the Concourse who are interested in independent/alternative/art comics. No Hollywood hype, no dreary mainstream superhero shlock and video game noise, no lines and high costs and near impossible, year-in-advance scoring of badges....just talented cartoonists with terrific comics and graphic novels that push the medium's envelope. This year, old favorites Dan Clowes and Adrian Tomine and my acquaintance Shannon Wheeler are among the talents being special-guested at the show.

So drive on over unless you live in Andover.

See ya in San Francisco, Nabisco!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Current Reading: Humor comics galore! My SDCC Stash - Mark Arnold's CRACKED Vol. 1, Lonnie Milsap's I HATE MY JOB, etc.

Came back from San Diego Comic-Con 2011 with a stack of books to read...

Not included in that pile is my new friend Lonnie Milsap's just-released second compilation I HATE MY JOB, another collection of his fun, sick, single-panel gag cartoons that harken back to Gary Larson's THE FAR SIDE crossed with some politically incorrect twists on NEW YORKER cartoons. The most delicious element is that he inserts a stock caricature of himself into most of the proceedings for an extra tickle. Yeah, he sold them at SDCC, sharing a table with alt comics legend Keith Knight, but I waited till I was back on the mainland to pick it up at his signing last weekend at the Talking Stick coffee lounge in Venice. If you haven't caught Milsap's terrific work, he'll be signing and doodling up both of his collections on August 10 at Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica. Highly recommended!

Another winner is Mark Arnold's fun and informative new book "If You're CRACKED, You're Happy!" Vol. 1 the Early Years ---- A history of CRACKED that comes in two volumes. I'm early in this read but it's really terrific so far and Mark's writing is clear, direct, and at once historical yet informal and the opposite of didactic, dull and verbose (like some academic books can be...even the ones on cartoonists....). CRACKED magazine, of course, was MAD's greatest competitor (of which there were many) and, as I've found along the way, tons of my cartoonist friends and myself were almost as influenced by and into CRACKED in our early years as MAD itself.

Speaking of MAD, looking forward to reading the first issue of SERGIO ARAGONES' FUNNIES from Bongo by my old CAPS amigo Mr. A, THE POSSUM series by my new buddy Blair Kitchen and SPY GUY by his brother Mike Kitchen (an animator on the terrific Tim Burton-produced animated feature "9"), and FOREVER FRESHMAN by my new pals Neil and Ray, who will have a signing party on Aug. 13 at Geeks Comics in Uptown Whittier.

Right now, humor comics are where it's at, you dig, Doug?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Partying Hard in San Diego with PopCultureGeek.com

One of the cooler people I met at this year's San Diego Comic-Con was NOT Chris Evans or Kristen Stewart but LUIS CALDERON of PopCultureGeek.com -----who I'm proud to call an instant super-fan* (*definition: Cartoon Flophousers, or satisfied readers who return to buy the latest Cartoon Flophouse book.)

Luis not only informed me that he's a big fan of SILLY GOOSE (which he stumbled upon at th Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, one of the best comic book shops in California)....but he purchased copies of every comic on the table and also included me in a film vignette on the indy creators at Comic-Con on PopCultureGeek.com that you can find right here. Check it out!

In the background of Calderon's interview with my table neighbor at the show, Jason Brubaker, another super-fan, Mr. Alex Acosta, who has made the CartoonFlophouse.com booth a regular Comic-Con destination, is seen receiving a signed and doodled copy of GREENBLATT THE GREAT! #3.

My longtime pal Javier Hernandez, the "El Muerto, Aztec Zombie" creator making his grand return to tabling this year, and new pal Blair Kitchen are also included in this Small Press round up. (Personally, I dig the '70s "Battlestar Galactica"-style font on some of the name titles. There's nothing like schlocky '70s sci-fi cheese...)

A big-up super-thanks to Luis Calderon, a reader of impeccable taste and class, for hyping us independent/alternative cartoonists. Man, we each need, like, 500,000 readers as enthusiastic and engaged in the humor comics stuff as Luis Calderon.

Since that's too much to ask for, right now, we've locked Blair up down in the lab dungeon until he finds a way of cloning Mr. Calderon. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wave Smurfin' Good-bye to SD Comic-Con 2011!

Even though I'm sure I'll be posting more Comic-Con pix, let's pay tribute to the convention, which began a week ago, in a single, powerful and poignant image...

....Great times, great memories, and shamelessly sentimental symbolism in blueface. I'm glad someone snapped this image because I left my camera at home...This is as obscene a Comic-Con image as I could possibly find this year!

P.S. -- If they grow Smurfs this big, imagine the mushrooms!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Behind the Flophouse: San Diego Comic-Con 2011


In what was surely a sad, tragic, apocalyptic week between the events in Norway, the passing of Amy Winehouse, and the default on debt discussion STILL unsettled (jeez, people!), it's with great shame and embarrassment that I present to you the first of what may be several waves of photos coming in from San Diego, where the too-busy-for-wi-fi Cartoon Flophouse crew essentially operated in a ridiculous bubble that looked (and smelled) like this:

Yes, news of the world was put on hold at the San Diego Convention Center, where we all didn't have much of a clue and the biggest drama of the week was the guy who played the Lizard getting arrested at the Spider-Man movie panel for attacking a security woman (sounds like a publicity stunt to us...)
There's our humble photo supplier, animator Jim Lujan, doing his morning meditations before pushing DVDs of his Ghettomation cartoon comedy shorts such as "Shady Guys" and "Bench Warrant" (not to be confused with "Bench Warmers" starring David Spade, which is a live-action cartoon short on comedy). Jim tabled with the great Jose Cabrera of Crying Macho Man fame. (More on him in a moment...)
Here I am at the Cartoon Flophouse booth, which I shared with the Agimat crew, who successfully debuted their new video game "Flip Riders," which comes out in August on all platforms. Look for this dense, 21-level game here!

In this photo, I'm talking to one of my Super-Fans, Alex Acosta, who showed me some cool drawings of a pug character that coincidentally resembled Pugly Pug from "Chipmunks & Squirrels" and some other super upcoming concepts he's working on for his strips. Also: Alex drew me a very cool doodle of Greenblatt the Great! as Popeye. It's loyal Flophousers like Alex that keep the cartoon comedy coming....
My host once again this year was the amazing Alex Vallejo...and once again, his gracious goddaughter Geneva (wrong spelling) joined us for a week of hilarity and hijinks. She's a smart, grounded teen...so what the hell was she doing hanging around with us?
The new wrinkle on Comic-Con (other than the crows feet on these guys----ha ha!) was the Trickster "convention" across the street from the Convention Center. Amazingly, this "convention" went on until 1 AM every night, when we hung out on the patio. Meanwhile inside, they auctioned off original art and had guys like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine play some acoustic tunes and models pose for a roomful of drooling men for a drawing class. Inevitably, every night, we wound up here after dinner in the Gaslamp, as it was an automatic after hours. It was a great mix of friends old and new, many of us from California. Above: Me (Michael Aushenker), Jose Cabrera, Jim Lujan, Dan C. from Denver, our newest L.A. crony gag extraordinaire Lonnie Millsap and Denver staple Stan Yan of the Squidworks network.
Here, "K Chronicles" cartoonist Keith Knight wonders why Lujan smells like Michael Aushenker. That's because too-cool-for-the-AC-amped-room Jim borrowed my sweater to stave off the goosebumps. He looks pretty sharp in that form-fitting blue number (designer: Old Navy...)
Around the bend from Jose and Jim, Toronto titan Blair Kitchen of "The Possum" series shared his table with one of my greatest pals, Javier Hernandez, creator of "El Muerto, Aztec Zombie." Together, El Muerto and The Possum tag-teamed the populace with a one-two cartoon punch.

On Friday night, we all blew our voices out at Dick's Last Resort (the restaurant where the staff insults you).

With a full bland blaring '80s hits like "Jesse's Girl" and "Summer of 69" and the waiter yelling epithets at us, Stan Yan and I valiantly ordered something called The Big Woody (not as dirty as it sounds...).

Cabrera ordered the catfish and, understandably, he didn't want to hear anything about The Big Woody...

...until our order arrived....holy Toledo! Beef ribs-o-rama! I felt the weight of jealous eyes all over me coming from every direction as it took me 45 chewy minutes to tackle just one of those delicious antlers. Random strangers took photos of me enjoying dinner. It looked that good!

Jose's one of my favorite people in the world so I can "rib" him on this blog. (Also not as dirty as it sounds.)

We had a great gang of friends with us. I love these people and it's always a gas hanging out with them (even outside of the convention center's wall-to-wall flatulence....maybe selling nachos and pizza to 100,000 out-of-shape couch potatoes is not such a hot idea...)

A grateful Grasiella Rodriguez (you know, the "Lunatic Fringe" comic) bought me a drink called the Hurricane because I helped her secure some hard-to-find lodging in Little Italy. Oh, what a night. Then it was back to Trickster for some more after-hours partying....

Evidently, Galactus not only banished his herald Norrin Radd to Earth but also condemned him to the worst job in San Diego - dealing with guests at this noisy, screaming zoo! I hope the Silver Surfer has as much fun as we did! Also spotted: Storm, a Stormtrooper (no relation).

Hey, Surfer....Tell Galactus that you're our little bitch now, you shiny little trailer hitch!

Back to the convention, where I often threw crazy fits in-between selling Cartoon Flophouse comics. Nobody noticed. It didn't help that people would pass by me and say, "Nice costume!" I don't even want to know what I was supposedly dressed like.
Dean LeCrone is a talented cartoonist who I had not seen in years. With his son Paul, he came by with a copy of "Tacklebear and Barko," one of my old favorites. The best riff on the absurdity of Comic-Con is his film "Dean LeCrone vs. the Mutants of Comic-Con," which I bough on DVD back in 2007. If you want to see the ultimate goof on Comic-Con, buy this DVD. It's hilarious!
"Suave" Jav Hernandez went into ladies' man mode when the sultry Mayra came to town.
Mayra was a ball of energy and we forgot all about the convention and the comics.

Gratuitous Broadway moves followed, and Jav quickly taped a Bob Hope variety special in which he did some George Burns dance moves. Special guest star: Brooke Shields
Then Jav told her to hit the road, he had some books to sell. You can take Jav out of the business...

A window into the relationship of Bernyce Talley and her beau Ricardo, who is enjoying his complimentary Tintin and Snowy bag more than she is. Jealous, Bernyce?
Ironically, cartoonist and children's book Rhode Montijo, author of great books such as "Cloud Boy" and "The Halloween Kid," is the least shadiest guy I know. But Jim Lujan found a way of corrupting him with this copy of his dirty, filthy cartoons. What a scumbag, that Jim!
Here, I'm doing my "Airport Security Dance" as we rally to take the trolley to the lolley in Old Town. Ta-looley-looley!
Here, Jim is saying something to the effect that his balls are cold and he needs to borrow my boxers. I happily obliged. Luckily, I always wear a spare thong.
The underworld has its cold, cutthroat characters----capable of unspeakable acts and heinous heists. Clearly, Aushenker and Lujan here are sending chills throughout the underworld...by buying them Slurpees and forcing them to drink them really fast. Brain freeeeeeeeze! Ooogh!
On Saturday night, our annual Old Town dinner went down, for the second year in a row at the El Fandango. Great food, great company, mango and strawberry margaritas....and only one person in costume.
Back to the criminal world. Remember that scene in "The Town" with Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner? Well, this was worse.
Taking our cues from "The Electric Company," Stan and I did the word game routine. "Shh!" "Utup!" "Shut up!" Do-to-doo-doo!
Here's the official album cover. Note the creepy ex-band member lurking in the back above Stan Yan's neck. Stalker alert!
In order to scare away thugs and ex-band members, I took to the air like a vulture. GAWK! GAWK! It pretty much worked, until I started to molt.
Jim Lujan and Alex Vallejo.
Jamie Baker shared a booth with Rhode Montijo as always. This year's costume theme: "The Great Grunge Revival."
I'd be lying if I didn't say that we are two handsome son of a bitches. More likely, I'd be lying if I said that.

Here we are at Fillipe's Pizza Grotto, enjoying a glass of red wine before making that long drive back to Los Angeles. Is there no end to this romance story?
You can write the caption for this shot.
Michael Aushenker, Jim Lujan, cousin Ted Lujan (mustache) and Crying Macho Man's Jose Cabrera. If you're wondering why Jose is the only one smiling, it's because he ate the entire pizza and did not leave any slices for the rest of us. Don't worry, we got our revenge by burying his car in Goldfish crackers (price tag on prank: $50,020). Ha-ha! Take that!