Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baby, if you ever wondered....

...wondered, whatever became of Loni. She's livin' on the air in Santa Monica, makin' the art scene at Bergamot Station.

Friday, June 24, 2011

We'll miss GENE COLAN and his fantastic art...

The first comic I ever read had a Stan Lee/Gene Colan Iron Man as a back up feature (behind a Lee/Kirby Captain America story). It was a tale in which Iron Man battled the Growing Man.

I'll never forget how alien and otherworldly his tall, elegant, looming Iron Man was. He drew Iron Man to perfection. That iconic cover for the Invincible Iron Man #1 underscores how he owned that character (among many others).

Years later, I got to know his work on Tomb of Dracula, Son of Satan, Howard the Duck...and I got to interview him by phone for an article on Captain America and Falcon in Back Issue #22. I'm glad I had the chance to hear some of his stories working for Marvel.

I loved his run on Brother Voodoo in Strange Tales. His art was always beautifully atmospheric.
We just lost a giant in the field and the game will never be the same again knowing Gene the Dean is no longer among us.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

With Super Friends Like These...

...Who needs Barbie dolls?

Here's the entire gang...

Machine Man and Triton (left) are two of Jack Kirby's greatest throwaway characters (while Batroc the Leaper [right] is his best hop-away character).

I call these two Perlin's pearls...Son of Satan and Moon Knight, key characters memorably drawn by my fellow Canarsie crony Don Perlin.

I'm sure some of you lovely mademoiselles out there are looking for a tall, dark, bouncy Frenchman with a Salvador Dali mustache, non?

Yes, the greatest Marvel superheroes this summer....may be on my shelf. Just kidding, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was a first rate movie. We'll see how CAP turns out. (Haven't seen THOR yet...)

Meanwhile, see you at San Diego Comic-Con at the CARTOON FLOPHOUSE table in Small Press, booth # O-08. That's the letter O, zero, eight. Ciao for now......

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Going GREEN this week...From LANTERN to HORNET...

Seth Rogen (left) and Jay Chou (right)

Hot on the heels of seeing GREEN LANTERN in the theaters, I'm reminded about how relative disappointing superhero flicks are....watching GREEN HORNET on DVD. Wow, is HORNET a stinker... I'll take GREEN LANTERN any day over this shit sandwich!

Disappointment is the wrong word in HORNET's case as I had zero to sub-zero expectations for this enterprise (but now that it's on DVD, I thought, what the heck, I'd take a gander): Rogen is physically miscast in this role as is the film's arthouse director. Rogen doesn't appear superheroic but more buffoonish, like he crashed the set from the sequel to PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (an overall fun film, by the way). This hero-with-father-issues business is old hat (so old that the 1930s Green Hornet wouldn't wear it). Century City hasn't been this exploited in a film since CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Storylines that feature plot twists that hinge on typing up a storm on a computer are cheesy. (Green Lantern had a scene like that with jet plane missiles, and that was the most bogus scene since any from SUPERMAN IV: QUEST FOR PEACE.)

With GREEN HORNET, I can see that they're going for a comedic superhero film but the dialogue here is not good silly, like absurd, but just cloying. The film constantly pokes fun of the very things that make GREEN HORNET, disrespecting the Shadow-esque source material that I'm guessing only older people would care about to begin with. Also, shoehorning this 1930s property into a contemporary storyline is awkward. It's obviously set in modern times but there's a patina of some kind of period film on it.

The screenplay is all over the map. The tone goes from humor to action to sentimentality so abruptly like it wants to be three different films. Also, the soundtrack pathetically shorthands what it wishes you would feel in any given scene (although these songs come on the soundtrack so quickly, it feels forced and MTV-cheesy). For example, when Brett's father dies in the film, cut to a quick snippet of Johnny Cash's "I Hung My Head," then abruptly cut to some upbeat song as the scene changes, then something else. It's so artificial, it adds another pathetic layer to this enterprise. It's a desperate attempt to evoke emotions that are not coming from the acting or writing (IMO).

Yeah, and the self-parody shtick is annoying. If they really hate GREEN HORNET that much and think the whole thing is goofy, why make this film to begin with? For a thousand reasons, this movie is a mess.

Seriously, if they're going to update the Green Hornet already, just cast an Asian-AMERICAN in the Kato role so we can understand what the fuck he's saying. If I were a studio head and I got the footage back and was forced to listen to this junk coming out of Jay Chou's mouth, I'd be pissing in my pants over the wasted millions. Same with those horrible RUSH HOUR movies where you have to sit through Jackie Chan's garbled pigeon English. Who can sit through that shit? It's 2011, they can get rid of the ching-chong Asian crap. For the sake of clarity, that's one GREEN HORNET rule they should update and goddamn fix so that we don't have to wince every time Kato speaks. It's totally annoying and it takes you out of the story.

The worst part of this film is that I can't understand a damn word Jay Chou says and, unfortunately, I can understand every word Rogen says. Hipping him up by having him croaking some hip hop lingo and rapping along to "Gangsta's Paradise" is kind of sad. The Matrix bullet-motion and Batman score steals don't help.

Christoph Waltz as the insecure crime boss basically strives to undo the brilliance he shone unto INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS as Landa with the clutch stuck on 3 in reverse. He's amazingly bad in this movie. Cameron Diaz, not Christoph Waltz, is the true villain of this film with her shrill screaming and lack of any good lines.

There's even a scene where Britt Reid and Kato fight each other, like in those PINK PANTHER comedies where Inspector Clouseau fights his Kato sidekick (maybe the filmmaker got the two enterprises mixed up).

This film is lighter and easier on the eyes than THE SPIRIT, an even lower form of domino-mask wearing superhero-film lifeform that this one superficially resembles. But this mix of superhero action and comedy and schmaltzy sincerity and Cameron Diaz just doesn't gel. Even the animated end titles are pretty lame.

Amazingly, (and unlike THE SPIRIT), this crazy project made its money back (not counting marketing) with a worldwide gross of more nearly $230 million. That's a true WTF! I just hope that doesn't mean there's a sequel coming!

At least they didn't spend $300 million making and marketing this green garbage. Poor Warner Bros., what were they thinking wasting so much money on GREEN LANTERN or ANY superhero movie for that matter. That's way overbudget, even for a Superman flick...they should've been a tad more fiscally responsible (like a frugal $200 million) on what is obviously a B-level DC character. Only Nolan's Batman films might warrant such an exorbitant money (if that's really necessary).

In related news, this Box Office Mojo analysis of how the superhero flicks have jumped the shark this summer, drawing good but not great box office, is interesting... (I guess they're expecting DARK KNIGHT and IRON MAN-size hits every summer now...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Video game developers AGIMAT, creators of SUGAR RUSH, FLIP RIDERS, and the SHADOW CANDY webcomic.
RICHARD CARRADINE & LISA STROUSS, founders of GHOULA (Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles).

BURRITO creator Carlos Saldana.
Animator extraordinaire JIM LUJAN, creator of John Henry Unicorn and Rod Rosse the One Man Posse!
Graisela Rodriguez, the gal on the LUNATIC FRINGE.
Would you believe WILL CAULFIELD and BAT BAT will be there, too?
Michael Aushenker's latest book stars THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES!

Monday, June 20, 2011

SIGNING! HI DE HO comics shop LAGUNA BEACH, Sunday, July 3rd, 10 AM-6 PM

Meet the creators of Bat Bat, Burrito,Crying Macho Man (featuring El Macho and Goya the Fighting Cock!), Sonambulo, El Gato the Crime Mangler, Ghettomation Cartoons, Ghoula Comix, Agimat video games such as Sugar Rush and Flip Riders. All this and more, July 3rd, 10 AM - 6 PM!

See the details on Facebook! Look up FANTASTIC FOURTH LAGUNA BEACH BLAST-OFF at Facebook for the page.

GREEN LANTERN and X-MEN movies teach me a lesson...

I caught the GREEN LANTERN movie yesterday, and I found it a very mixed bag.
On the up side, Ryan Reynolds was terrific as the Hal Jordan/GL character, and the suit/mask didn't bother me as much as it did some people. I also enjoyed the parts on Oa, Sinestro, Kiliwog and all the cosmic stuff.
On the down side, the actress who played Carol Ferris was pretty awful, and all the stuff with her character, her father the senator (Tim Robbins) and the Hector Hammond stuff was very cornball, B-movie stuff. A helicopter scene and a balcony scene were almost parodies of similar moments in the original SUPERMAN, as were a few notes on the soundtrack, and the derivative SUPERMAN stuff bothered more more than anything about this movie. Also, the single worse scene for me was where Carol Ferris saves Hal by whipping out a laptop and firing some missiles from a jet - that was the single most ridiculous thing I've seen in a long time.
All that said, I enjoyed GREEN LANTERN enough to want to see a sequel and the return of Sinestro (now evil!), as I think the potential is there to keep this going into a franchise. Of course, if the box office take continues to dip, that sequel will never happen, but I hope it does well enough to invite a sequel, as I think this franchise could get better, as did X-MEN (the first X-MEN in 2000, after all, was only good in the movie's first half before going to crap).
Oh, the lesson I've learned this summer: don't judge a movie by its trailer: I thought the GREEN LANTERN trailer was by far the best of the superhero lot. I hated the THOR trailer, I dislike the CAPTAIN AMERICA trailer and I was completely indifferent to X-MEN: FIRST CLASS.
Well, as it turns out, I thought X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was not only the best X-Men movie but one of the all-time best Marvel movies, all of my friends who have seen THOR have loved it, and GREEN LANTERN, for all of my anticipation of a rip-roaring movie, did not live up to its potential. Shows you what the hell I know. Guess I should go against my instincts and see THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA and see if these two are any good.

Friday, June 17, 2011

SDCC 2011: CARTOON FLOHPOUSE and AGIMAT at SMALL PRESS Table 0-08 and video game makers AGIMAT will join forces at SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON this year for a rousing table of fun. Look for us in SMALL PRESS at Table O-08

Here's the entire SMALL PRESS section layout...per the official San Diego Comic-Con International site.

See you in Sandy Eggo, July 20 - 24! We'll be the ones partying hard!

Monday, June 13, 2011

X-MEN is definitely a FIRST CLASS Marvel superhero film...

I'll be the first one to admit that I had sub-zero expectations for X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which turned out to be my favorite of all X-Men films by a long shot.

In a summer in which I feel that I dodged a $14 bullet seeing the lousy-looking THOR and I'm still on the fence about whether CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER can live up to some monumental expectations based on decades of great comics going back to WWII, I was in no mood to see X-MEN: FIRST CLASS....especially after the bad quality of the last few Marvel movies, such as GHOST RIDER, IRON MAN 2, and, the worse of the worse, that last X-MEN flick, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

All that said, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was a terrific surprise and an odd Marvel movie at that: a period superhero film that was not so slavish to the original X-Men comics but captured the spirit of it and went beyond, giving some great back story to the characters of Magneto and Professor X. You really find out what turned Erik into Magneto and why Charles Xavier winds up wheelchair-bound in clever fashion that I don't think was explored in the comics (at least not the original books).

The casting is inspired: Michael Fassbender as Magneto is terrific, this will definitely be a breakout role for him, and all of the Magneto scenes are solid gold (In the process of telling his story, this movie turns out to be the best revenge-on-Nazis film since INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS!)

James MacAvoy as Prof. X seems like an odd choice at first but it totally works. Kevin Bacon also steals much of the movie. The other characters are well-cast, including Beast, Banshee, and some (I think) a couple of made-up (or recent) characters.

(I think this movie really benefits from not being directly connected to either the original X-MEN films or that whole Avengers Initiative crap dragging down the movies leading up to AVENGERS.)

Yeah, this movie is not slavish to the original Lee/Kirby cast of X-MEN (no Cyclops --although brother Havok appears---and no Iceman and Angel in this movie is not the same Angel from the book)....and yeah, I'd probably like it a degree more if it wasn't such a mish-mash of random characters and they had included all of the original X-Men...

But this really fun and smart X-Men movie more than makes up for a few fanboy disappointments. What can I say? I wasn't looking forward to this movie very much, but the glorious reviews of my friends who saw it, coupled with my girlfriend Laura's desire to see it, got me into the theater...and I was not at all let down. Go see it if you're up for a good time and want to see the first truly inspired Marvel movie since 2008 or so.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Popeye's Wandering Eye....

Tearing a page from the Archie Comics playbook, Popeye can't decide whether he wants to go blonde or brunette. (On second thought, he seems less decisive than Archie...)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


This is a Rogue's world....But it wouldn't be nothin', nothin'...without readers and reviews!

THE COMICS JOURNAL critic Rob Clough just posted a gag cartoon book round-up at High-Low, which includes a pretty nifty review of my latest compilation, THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES PARTY HARD! Check out the review, in which he digs the Rogues even more than Greenblatt the Great!

Hats off to Rob, who regularly posts precision reviews on comics and graphic novels on his High-Low blog. My thanks to Rob for reviewing THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES PARTY HARD! and for continuing to obsess over humor comics in these days of cynical rehashes, reboots and renumberings. (Thankfully, Clucky and Brett make for lousy superheroes so they don't fall into all that soup...)

By coincidence, I happen to be planning to begin work on two ROGUES follow-up books (not part of a trilogy, just three books total featuring Clucky and Brett) later this year. So good news for ROGUES fans!

And all you Greenie heads, I'm not done yet with Greenblatt the Great! just yet. The GTG! ultimate trade paperback collection, HISTORY WILL BE SERVED!, debuts at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) 2011 in October. Look for all the old Greenblatt strips plus some new strips––all in one hefty, handy trade paperback edition.

THOSE UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES PARTY HARD! will be available at the Cartoon Flophouse table at San Diego Comic-Con, July 20-24. Drop by, drop in, drop out, tune up!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wally Wood Battle Covers!

I've really come to appreciate Wally Wood's dynamic work, particularly on "Daredevil" and "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents." No artist can rock a battle cover like Wood. This "Daredevil" #7 underwater smackdown is out of control. Lately, I've been on assignment, writing about aquatic superhero I'm especially sweet on this one at the moment.
However, my favorites remain those classic combat covers with Dynamo. This was the first issue of "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" I ever read and it's still my favorite. "Alice!....Alice!" Ha ha! Good ol' Len Brown! This surely is the greatest fight of all time: better than "Rumble in the Junlge!"
What perfection, these crazy covers. We should all be this talented, there wouldn't be any strife in the world.
"No man" can draw compositions such as this one like Wally Wood. Can you dig it?

Wally were okay, man! You were one cool dude. Rock ON!

Monday, June 6, 2011


GHOULA and CARTOONISTAS! fans alike....Save that date: Sunday, July 3rd, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., lotsa L.A.-area cartoonists will descend on HI DE HO COMICS in LAGUNA BEACH for the FANTASTIC FOURTH WEEKEND LAGUNA BEACH BLAST-OFF!

Fun for the whole family as Gumby and Captain America will appear in person to meet and greet the kiddies while local humor cartoonists sign their family-friendly comics. Cartoonists will include Michael Aushenker ("Cartoon Flophouse") and Rafael Navarro ("Sonambulo"), the co-creators of "Gumby's Gang Starring Pokey", Carlos Saldana ("Burrito"), Will Caulfield ("Bat-Bat"), Jose Cabrera ("Crying Macho Man"), "Ghettomation" animator Jim Lujan, Grasiella Rodriguez ("Lunatic Fringe"), and the Agimat team (the comic strip "Shadow Candy," the video game "Sugar Rush").

For the more mature and twisted crowd, Richard Carradine and Lisa Strouss, co-founders of GHOULA (Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles), will sign copies of GHOULA Comix #1, which features work by many of the cartoonists in attendance.

Come down and see new comics and animated shorts and play video games! Bring your entire family and your sketchbooks! Them cartoonists love to doodle!

More info to come soon....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Love this song! Wu-Tang Clan: WOLVES

This song is the highlight for me from the last official Wu-Tang album, 8 DIAGRAMS. It's called WOLVES and all the elements are in there to make this rap a success: cowboy riffs and matador brass, a Morricone-style whistle, haunting ghost choruses, U-God kicks off the track, followed by a Meth assist, all over a bangin' beat. A Wu-Tang recipe for success!

Movie reviews: BURN AFTER READING (2008), GREENBERG (2010), THE SPIRIT (2008)

BURN AFTER READING (2008) ---- My buddy Rich suggests a better title woulda been "Burn After Viewing." I don't think this Coen Bros. movie is that bad. It's not one of their classics, like THE BIG LEBOWSKI or a great one, like HUDSUCKER PROXY, but it's not rock bottom like A SERIOUS MAN. I put this somewhere in the middle of their comedy-success scale, alongside INTOLERABLE CRUELTY. I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end, for the most part, the funniest performance being John Malkovich's (he also stole the show in ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL a while back...). It's a cartoony movie, and Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and George Clooney try their best to be ridiculous, with various degrees of success. Richard Jenkins, like the put-upon, alcoholic, memoir-losing Malkovich, also gives a winning performance as the manager of Hardbodies gym. A likable if imperfect gem.

GREENBERG (2010) ----- This one's a hard pill to swallow. A purposely aimless, rudderless "comedy" starring Ben Stiller. It smacks of a naturalistic indy flick like "Anniversary Party" (also co-written by Jennifer Jason Leigh). Anybody like "Squid and the Whale" that much to see a follow-up by Noah Baumbach? He co-wrote "The Life Aquatic" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," both Wes Anderson films that I enjoyed. I just don't know about this one. The female characters are all insecure, neurotic and annoying. The British character doesn't belong in this movie. The folksy, nostalgic soundtrack makes my stomach queasy. The title is dangerously close to "Greenblatt the Great!" Which would've been a funnier film, right? RIGHT???!!!!

THE SPIRIT (2008) ---- The biggest problem with this film is that A) it's written and directed by Frank Miller and B) it bears no tribute or relation to Will Eisner's humorous noir superhero hybrid. Quite the opposite, this is Miller's tribute to himself. The movie aesthetically resembles Miller's SIN CITY movie, down to the closing credits, where there is not an Eisner drawing of The Spirit but instead, The Spirit drawn in Miller's style. I forgot C) This movie has some of the worst dialogue I've heard in a movie in many years. (Well, one good thing came out of this movie: it was such a failure, they took back the BUCK ROGERS project from him.)
Somewhere lost in the mix is Will Eisner and his quirks. Too bad. Another lost opportunity: the opening of the movie could have opened with the title of the movie in Eisner-style giant stone letters and the Spirit running around it. That would seem to be a no-brainer. Given there were no brains behind this movie, it's a surprise they didn't think of such an obvious reference to the comics. Guess that was never Miller's intention.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

MAN (FROM ATLANTIS), A Great BACK ISSUE MAG Article in the Works.....

More from the Aquatic Superhero files: Normally, I don't like to crow about a BACK ISSUE MAGAZINE article that's in the works, but my article about the behind-the-scenes on Marvel Comics' MAN FROM ATLANTIS is going to be one of those epic stories.
MAN FROM ATLANTIS, written by Bill Mantlo and drawn and inked by Frank Robbins and Frank Springer, ran all of seven issues in 1978. The TV show was canceled somewhere in the middle of the comic's short run.
I've been able to get in touch with a plethora of crucial people from every angle of this adaptation of the MAN FROM ATLANTIS TV movies and the short-lived show on NBC, and it should be eye-opening, in the way that my pieces on two other licensed character books written by Mantlo -- THE HUMAN FLY (BACK ISSUE #20) and TEAM AMERICA (BACK ISSUE #41)---were.
The MAN FROM ATLANTIS article will appear in BACK ISSUE #55 around late 2011/early 2012.

Jimmy JAMS! (Who in the World is Jimmy Thompson?)

Firing out of a cannon like some unholy amalgam of Plastic Man creator Jack Cole, The Spirit creator Will Eisner, and Rocketeer's Dave Stevens, with a generous sprinkle of Basil Wolverton, Jimmy Thompson attacked his Sub-Mariner and Human Torch assignments at Timely Comics (the pre-Marvel incarnation) in the 1940s.

I never heard of this guy until I read this blog post, which has generous heapings of Thompson's art, but I'm already hooked and waiting for the bio book if someone out there is writing it. I'd love to learn and see more work by this amazing stylist.

The blog implies that Jimmy Thompson never caught any heat because he did not create any character of note. Too bad, he's obviously very talented and sophisticated for the time. I dig the quasi-cartoony spin on his work....and this super-cartoony, mega-exaggerated take on Bill Everett's second greatest creation (or first, depending on how you feel about Daredevil, Man Without Fear) may out-Everett Everett!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: "Bust a Move" Girl was "Ritual de la Habitual" Girl!

The great thing about being a writer is that you. never. ever. stop. learning.
I was covering an audition for an up-and-going reality show called "Malibu Wives" and the VERY GOD DAMN LAST woman who showed up for the audition (half an hour past the official end time) was the woman who outshined all of the preceding plastic surgery queens.
Even better (here's the learning part...), this woman, CindyAnn Sant Angelo, revealed that, back in the day, not only was she chick in Young MC's "Bust a Move" video (the sexpot bombshell miming the song's hook) but she's also the seductive Spanish girl introducing "Juanos Addicione" --- the very first thing you hear on the album "Ritual de la Habitual" (Jane's Addiction follow-up to their masterpiece "Nothing's Shocking"), preceding the song "Stop," which is followed by the album's single, "Been Caught Stealing."
Yes, the "Bust a Move" chick and the "Ritual" chica are one and the same! CindyAnn Sant Angelo. And I didn't know this until last Friday afternoon. The magic of life...