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 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 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!


Javier Hernandez said...

Ha! I some stray person came across your blog for the first time, they'd think it was a travelling/dining website! Good food, fun locations, lotsa laughs..In other words, the last thing someone would think of when reading about selling indy comics!

In truth, Mikey, this is the best way to make the indy comics scene work for you: Make good, original work, surround yourself with great friends, and hit the con circuit full barrel.

Even though you beat me to the punch by using Jim Lujan's photos of you, me and Miss Mayra, it was great reading about it from your point of view. Ah, what a great gal.....

Good time, Mr. Aushenker. Will be posting my own perspective soon....

Greenblatt the Great! said...

Thanks, Jav! Right you are, my friend!

Looking forward to your take on SDCC when you post it up....

All you Flophousers can check out EL MUERTO AZTEC ZOMBIE cartoonist Jav Hernandez's suh-weet blog at: JAVZILLA.COM