Thursday, April 28, 2011

Latino Comics Expo, CAPS gallery show, Lots of Wu Tang Clan and the new Beastie Boys...

Trying to drown out the noise in our collective head that is this weekend's Royal Wedding by preparing for a CAPS art gallery show, which opens Friday, May 6, in Burbank, and lasts all month of May (i've got a page of El Gato, Crime Mangler art plus three oil paintings in the show) at the Animation Union building's gallery, and the Latino Comics Expo at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, all to the soundtrack of recently acquired Wu Tang Clan albums (just got THE W, which so far I'm not enjoying as much as 8 DIAGRAMS ("Wolves!" Great song, man!) and Mathetmatics' WU TANG & FRIENDS). One thing's for certain: Method Man always delivers, U-God is the secret weapon...

(I'll post the deets on the two shows by early next week...)

I'm also getting used to the new BEASTIE BOYS album HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE that just hit the Internet. Early favorites are OK, which is gloriously effed up and NONSTOP DISCO POWERPACK. This album is like a hybrid of CHECK YOUR HEAD, HELLO NASTY and TO THE 5 BOROUGHS (guess the LICENSED TO ILL and PAUL'S BOUTIQUE days are not gonna happen again?). MAKE SOME NOISE is like a mid-tempo CH-CH-CHECK IT OUT. Sorely missed is POP YOUR BALLOON, which leaked online but didn't make the cut.

Do I like this album?'s always good to hear what the Beasties are up to. It's kind of mid-tempo overall, which is not my favorite tempo, but it has a lot of nice grooves. I need to give it some more listening. Right now, it's kind of in the middle for me. There's always be LICENSED TO ILL and PAUL'S BOUTIQUE for me...two masterpieces of unbridled horseplay....and then everything else. That's just the way it is.

If I had to rate my favorite Beasties albums (not counting the instrumental stuff), the list would be something like this right now:


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aushenker Talks INVADERS in Big Fat Centennial ALTER EGO #100

Fanzines are fun when they're done right...and no one does them righter than, in my opinionitis!

Just got through reading the big, fat commemorative ALTER EGO #100. The ultimate fanzine, Roy Thomas's famed ALTER EGO (vol. 3, I believe...), an offshoot of one of the original fanzines, just reached its 100th issue.

I was invited to write a piece up for it. I spent my space waxing about THE INVADERS, written by Thomas and drawn masterfully by quasi-cartoony artist extraordinaire Frank Robbins (not to slight inker Frank Springer and artist Lee Elias, who also brought a lot of game to INVADERS).

Robbins went against the grain of the Marvel House style, bringing his quirky, Milton Caniff-inspired art-style to superhero comics such as INVADERS and HUMAN FLY (which I wrote about in my first BACK ISSUE! magazine piece for BI #20 in Jan. 2007). It worked...for half the readers..the other half despised him because he was not Jack Kirby. Robbins was a polarizing figure, and he's finally getting a well-deserved cult going on online from a lot of the kids who hated him at the time but can not seem to shake the impression his art had on them. It took him a few decades but Robbins won 'em over at last!!

I'll be writing up a piece on another Robbins thrill ride, Marvel's short-lived MAN FROM ATLANTIS, in an upcoming BACK ISSUE! ish next year.

Back to ALTER EGO#100. The cover is above and you can get this issue directly from TwoMorrows at a discount price right here!

Friday, April 15, 2011


My new comic book is now available at Amazon.

If you liked "Pineapple Express," "Observe and Report," and the "Bill & Ted" and "Harold & Kumar" flicks, don't miss these slackers!

You can also find the entire line of CARTOON FLOPHOUSE books here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

El Gato, Crime Mangler comics at First Annual Latino Comics Expo, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco

Thanks to my Sephardic heritage (Mom's side), my El Gato, Crime Mangler comics, and my great L.A. amigos, I'll be one of the featured cartoonists at the First Annual Latino Comics Expo at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco on May 7 and 8th, 2011. I'll be selling my comics side by side with my good hermanos Javier Hernandez, Jose Cabrera and many more L.A. area friends, not to mention an honest to goodness Hernandez Brother (as in Los Lobos Hernandez, as in "Love & Rockets..."), Mario Hernandez. (No relation to Jav, who is MY Hernandez brother!)

If you're in the Bay Area, swing by and say "Hola!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Herr Seele's birthday! HENK it up!

Happy birthday to the artist of COWBOY HENK/MAURICE/JEAN!

My article in ALTER EGO #100 on Frank Robbins/THE INVADERS

OUT NOW! In ALTER EGO #100, the big, fat anniversary issue, I was invited to write about one of my favorite topics--the artist Frank Robbins--and his run on that glorious WWII superhero group book THE INVADERS. The issue is chock full of interviews and remembrances of various comics from the 1970s and '80s. Visit if you have trouble finding it at your local shop.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dave, will you Murray me? (Happy b-day, Letterman!)

Here is Bill Murray with honoree David Letterman in front of Johnny Carson's curtains. This was the scene over the weekend on the Comedy Central Awards, where they honored Letterman with the first ever Comedy Central Icon Award for Comedy. It was fun to see Murray joke around with Letterman, two old friends. Recall that whenever Letterman has a first episode, Murray is there like a lucky rabbit's foot.

Bill Murray's latter-day career to me is more interesting than the early days on SNL, "Stripes," and "Ghostbusters." Those things were fun but disposable. I'm a very big fan of his work with Wes Anderson, including "Rushmore" and "The Life Aquatic," I enjoyed "Lost in Translation" when I saw it, and even more so, I've seen Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers" twice (yes, twice!!!). He's the best things about the uneven "Coffee & Cigarettes" and a highlight of "Zombieland." Remember "Ed Wood"? I think his renaissance officially began with "Groundhog Day," a wry comedy Harold Ramis has never been able to top since. (Poor bastard!)

Today happens to be David Letterman's birthday. Letterman, in my opinion, deserves the icon award. He is a true master, perhaps one of the sharpest comic minds ever, even though I admit I haven't seen much of his show in recent years because the talk show formula grates on me these days (plus, I'm distracted by reruns of "Curb"). But Letterman, in my estimation, is the true heir apparent of Johnny Carson, despite ratings, hype, and multiple re-launchings of Leno and Conan.

Let's be honest, folks! Joan, can we talk?! Conan jumped the shark after the first time Andy Richter left the show...which was in the last century....and the funniest thing on his show was a puppet of a dog with a cigar. Triumph is a true genius. Conan alone, without Andy, was too much Conan. And now that Andy is back on the show, it's too much Conan and Andy. Something went awry...., I've seen less irritating pelican faces at Pismo Beach....He is grating beyond belief and his writers supply him with an endless supply of comfort food jokes that only your great-grandparents would chuckle over (if only their hearing aids were turned on). Leno is the Jeff Zucker of comedians...and he should follow Zucker into obscurity.

Nobody really talks about Fallon or the other guy much. I don't even know if Jimmy Kimmel is still on the air (his ex-girlfriend is 12 times funnier than he is...unless you belong to a frat!).

Meanwhile, the funniest punchline in all of late night is that Carson Daly is quietly becoming a billionaire in the dead hour zone. Bow down to your master, General Daly, Emperor of NBC!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Code cracked: CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM is the bizarro FLINTSTONES...

After millions of years of evolution, "The Flintstones" evolves into "Curb Your Enthusiasm"....basically, a contemporary version of Fred and Barney getting in trouble while hiding stuff from their wives.

The big difference superficially is that "Curb" is a world where Barney is the star and Fred is the sidekick. Also, Barney is married to Wilma while Fred is married to Betty. It's the bizarro "Flinstones!"

(I guess I should acknowledge in passing the fact that "The Flintstones" was inspired by "The Honeymooners" but I refuse to acknowledge it in passing...)

Remembering John Fante...(1909-1983)

Well, 102 years ago today, the writer John Fante, the man behind some brilliant novels, including "Ask the Dust," "Wait Until Spring, Bandini," and "Brotherhood of the Grape," was born...

Last year, I paid tribute to one of my favorite authors in a short story called "The Languager" in GHOULA COMIX #1, an anthology of comics by L.A.-based cartoonists given the assignment of developing a story that incorporates Los Angeles and ghosts. Here is an excerpt from my story.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This Cover Still Moves Me to Tears...

**Sniff, sniff !**

Greenblatt the Great! and John Dillinger go to the movies...

One of the new Greenblatt the Great! strips from the upcoming trade paperback collection, due in October.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greenblatt the Great!'s Tour of Hollywood

One of the new strips from the upcoming GREENBLATT THE GREAT! trade paperback collection, due in October.

Nothing beats Frank Robbins!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This should make you smile: Stan Laurel's Santa Monica years...

Courtesy of the Lookout News at SURFSANTAMONICA.COM

Postcards From Ocean Avenue: Stan Laurel’s Final Years

By Michael Aushenker
Special to the Lookout

April 1, 2011 -- Long before Facebook…long before cell phones and even answering machines, there was a time when you could pick up the West Los Angeles phone book, find the number of comedy legend Stan Laurel, and reach him at his Santa Monica residence.

The caption should be: Stan Laurel at his desk in his Santa Monica apartment. Photograph courtesy of

Yes, that Stan Laurel, as in Laurel & Hardy, two of the greatest comic actors in recorded history.

During their boom period in the 1920s and 30's, Laurel and Oliver “Babe” Hardy, starred in such classic shorts as “Big Business,” “Sons of the Desert,” “County Hospital,” “Busy Body,” and the Oscar-winning “The Music Box,” arguably their most famous achievement, in which “The Laurel and Hardy Transfer Company” had to transport a piano up a monumentally lengthy flight of stairs and into a house’s second-floor window, complicating the simple task along the way.

However, Laurel and Hardy’s boom went bust as moviegoers’ tastes changed, television upstaged the movies, and Hardy, the heavy-set half of the bumbling, bowler-wearing duo, died at age 65 in 1957. It was soon after that Laurel moved into a Santa Monica apartment building with a sea view.

“Stan and his wife Ida lived at the Oceana from 1958 to his death in 1965 – Ida stayed there a couple more years – and their apartment number was 203,” said Jimmy Wiley, Jr., Grand Sheik of the Way Out West Tent, the Los Angeles chapter of Sons of the Desert, a Laurel and Hardy appreciation society.

Now a boutique luxury hotel, the Oceana on 849 Ocean Avenue still gets calls regarding its famous former tenant of Suite 203 and the first sentence on the hotel’s history at the Oceana website acknowledges that it was the screen legend’s former residence.

Wiley, president of his club for five years and a member since 1974, convenes the Sons monthly at the Mayflower Club in North Hollywood. Back in 1997, on the 30th anniversary of Way Out West, the group toured Laurel and Hardy locations around L.A. One stop was the Oceana.

“The guys at the hotel knew what room it was,” Wiley told Lookout News. “Four of us [split the room cost and] spent the whole night in 203,” inviting other members over to check out the room.

Grand Sheik Wiley on the balcony of Laurel's apartment at the Ocean.
Photograph courtesy of James Wiley, Jr.

According to Wiley, Laurel’s daughter Lois, who is 84 today, “told us that from the kitchen, they could look out to the pool. When we got there, there were no windows in the kitchen.”

Of the Laurel and Hardy team, Stan Laurel was the British national (the American Hardy hailed from Georgia). He was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, the son of a manager of a group of theaters, in Lancashire, England, on June 16, 1890.

Exhibiting an early inclination for entertainment, Laurel, at 16, joined Fred Karno's comedy company. Charlie Chaplin headlined the troupe, and Laurel served as his understudy.

While the comedy group didn't last, it did succeed in introducing Laurel to America, where he soon segued onto the silver screen with his first two-reel film, “Nuts in May,” in 1917.

Laurel’s professional partner and common law wife, Mae Dahlberg, suggested he assume the professional surname “Laurel.” The re-branding worked: Hal Roach Studios signed Laurel in 1926.

Due to an accident on the set of “A Lucky Dog” Laurel joined an overweight contract player before the camera. That actor was Hardy, and the chemistry they shared would cement them in the annals of cinema history.

The duo starred in 106 shorts and features together, two of which have been lost. Laurel and Hardy scholars have traveled as far as Russia to search for the missing pair of shorts, “The Rogue Song” and “Hats Off.” “Joe Stalin was a Laurel and Hardy fan,” explained Wiley, who added, “It could be in a can at the studio that’s mislabeled.”

Laurel split with Dahlberg and went through three failed marriages before finding Ida Kitaeva and marrying her in 1946.

Their popularity waning, Laurel and Hardy retired their act in 1950.

More setbacks followed: Hardy suffered a heart attack in 1954, and Laurel experienced a small stroke in 1955; Hardy also suffered a stroke, but this one was much more serious: he became paralyzed and bed-ridden for many months before his death on August 7, 1957.

In 1961, while living in Santa Monica, Laurel was honored with a special Academy Award for his comedy breakthroughs.

What many people remember about Laurel’s days on Ocean Avenue was how accessible he was to fans.

He responded to fan mail personally and by hand, and he hosted a steady stream of visitors at his humble apartment by the sea that included Jerry Lewis and Dick Cavett, and less-famous strangers who had reached him by phone.

“He was very gracious, he would sit and talk as long as they had questions,” said Wiley, who, just as hardcore fan Mark Evanier had recounted on his blog, as a youth could not muster up the nerve to dial that number.

As documented on the website, Laurel reached out to fans via hundreds of postcards and letters. Over his six years in Santa Monica, Laurel, in his correspondence, commented on everything from “The Steve Allen Show” to Jackie Gleason and Chuck McCann.

Photos exist of Laurel in Malibu. Previous to Ocean Avenue, he lived at 25406 Malibu Road.

“He liked to watch TV at night,” Wiley said. “The reception in Malibu wasn’t as good as in Santa Monica.”

Despite a diversity of L.A. locales used in the shorts, hardly any were shot in Santa Monica. The exception may be 1928’s “Two Tars.”

“[In the short], they play sailors taking girls around and they rented a car and ended up in a traffic jam,” Wiley said. “We’ve kind of figured out that it’s near the Santa Monica Airport on Centinela.”

After Laurel died on Feb. 23, 1965, shortly after suffering a heart attack, it was longtime Malibu resident and Laurel’s frequent visitor (and impersonator) Dick Van Dyke who delivered the eulogy at Laurel’s funeral.

“Stan’s influence inspired me to go into show business in the first place, and his influence molded my point of view, my attitude about comedy,” Van Dyke said.

“I had never met the man, but four years ago when I came to California I meant to meet Stan Laurel by hook or crook, and I wangled for a year, any way I could, to get his phone number, his address—anything that could put me in touch with him.

“Do you know where I finally found it? In the phone book, in a West Los Angeles phone book: Stan Laurel, Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica. I picked up the phone and received an invitation to come up there and visit.”

“Stan once remarked that Chaplin and Lloyd made all the big pictures, and he and Babe made all the little cheap ones. 'But they tell me our little cheap ones have been seen by more people through the years than all the big ones. They must have seen how much love we put into them.’”

Monday, April 4, 2011

Going 'Green' This Summer!

I was already way more excited about the GREEN LANTERN movie than the middling-looking Marvel movies and this trailer just pushed it over the edge. This is the superhero movie to beat, in my book. Right now, it's looking to be substantial, up there with the original SUPERMAN movies ----a great, visually dazzling crowd-pleaser. Let's hope the movie fulfills on the promise of this trailer!

P.S. Check out Sinestro!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today, Humor Comics takes a day off as Mr. Aushenker celebrates his birthday....

Catch your breath CNN and cry over world events...light candles and mope ponderously...find something serious to do, like perform open-heart surgery or gather stones on the beach for some occultish group's altar...But don't fret! More CARTOON FLOPHOUSE humor comics are on the way this year, including new trade paperback editions of THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES, EL GATO, CRIME MANGLER, and GREENBLATT THE GREAT!
Cheerio and God bless!