Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy 82nd birthday to my good buddy GAVIN MaCLEOD!

Call this post ‎"Michael Aushenker and Gavin MacLeod: The Bromance --Through The Years"

Happy birthday to my good buddy Gavin, star of Blake Edwards' THE PARTY and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and THE LOVE BOAT and OPERATION PETTICOAT and KELLY'S HEROES...among many, many other beloved films....

My path crossed with Gavin's back in 2008-2010 when I was a staff writer at a newspaper in Pacific Palisades, CA, where Gavin lived and served as its longest-running honorary (celebrity) mayor. We hit it off instantly and have stayed friends to this day, beyond my move to the Palisades and his move out of the Palisades last year for another part of California.
Gavin turns 82 today! 

Love this guy! As anyone who is lucky to have met him knows, he's a class act in a business bereft of them!

I wished him a great birthday this morning and, as usual, we had a great time conversing. He always has the most amazing showbiz anecdotes to share. Anyway, he sounds happier and more robust than in recent years, I'm happy to report. I only wish him the best in life, that Gavin!

In honor of Gavin, here are a few articles I interviewed him while writing for various news outlets in Pacific Palisades on:

*Gavin's one-man show...

*Partying with Gavin at the Pearl Dragon

*Lunch at the now-defunct Village Pantry (real mayor Richard Riordan's old place) with Gavin and friends...

God bless you, Gavin! I wish you some of the best years of your life ahead!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy 65th, Mr. Doug Moench, Marvel Comics writer extraordinaire!

A special shout-out to one of the all-time best writers of mainstream comics, Mr. Doug Moench, who turns 65 today.

Moench's amazing resume includes the best, most groundbreaking comics to emerge from Marvel in the 1970s --- as well as some great second-stringer books. Among the innovative: his long-running MASTER OF KUNG FU series and the short-lived but prescient ASTONISHING TALES run of the dystopian sci-fi nightmare DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER with artist Rich Buckler, and MOON KNIGHT, the series that featured the evolution of artist Bill Sienkiewicz, based on the anti-hero he created in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT with artist Don Perlin. Moench also wrote PLANET OF THE APES comics for the magazine and so many more gems. Always fun, always intelligent and striving to make the most of his medium. Seek his books out in your cheapie bins and your Essentials collections!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

HAPPY 100, TISH TASH! Born Feb. 19, 1913, the great FRANK TASHLIN!

Last Tuesday, February 19, marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great FRANK TASHLIN, the Tex Avery of live action movies.

He was a great writer, a great cartoonist, a great children's book artist, a director of Warner Bros. shorts (memorably Porky Pig), a great screenwriter...and all this before he directed his first movie. Here's one of the many birthday tributes to Tish Tash all over the worldwide web!
What followed once he began making movies for Paramount: the hilarious Bob Hope sequel SON OF PALEFACE, Martin and Lewis vehicles ARTISTS AND MODELS and HOLLYWOOD OR BUST, solo Jerry Lewis movies CINDERFELLA, ROCK-A-BYE BABY and THE GEISHA BOY, swingin' Jayne Mansfield comedies WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? and THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT.

Listen, nobody could make a live-action cartoon like Frank Tashlin -- and HOLLYWOOD OR BUST, arguably my favorite of his films, totally informed another favorite film of mine, Tim Burton's first, PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE.
Anyway, "wacky" and "zany" have become maligned words by now, but back when Tashlin mastered that kind of comedy, those words meant a lot. He had a great imagination. 

 The man was a renegade within the studio system. He forged a diverse, anarchic, subversive, creative career that I surely envy.

God bless Frank Tashlin and other talented creators like him!

Monday, February 18, 2013

FLASHBACK 1999: mixin' it up with Red Buttons, Anthony Quinn and Casey Kasem....

Strange bedfellows indeed, but there I was, as a guest of my longtime buddy Adam Buttons, at the Beverly Hills Hotel back in February 1999, shortly before Valentine's Day, in celebration of the 80th birthday of Adam's father, the late, great Red Buttons.

This is Red Buttons' birthday month - he was born on February 5, 1919.

Here is Aushenker the American with Zorba the Greek at comedian/Oscar- and Emmy-winning actor Red Buttons' 80th birthday party celebration at the Beverly Hills Hotel!

Here I am with Adam "The New Hollywood" Buttons and Casey (voice of Shaggy on "Scooby-Doo") Kasem. Also mingled with Esther and Carl Reiner at that party. 

An epic evening thanks to my longtime pal Adam Daniel Buttons that I will never forget! 

God bless Red Buttons memory, he was a comic genius who mastered the one-liner and he wrote his own material (unlike many of his generation of comedians...). I remember, even before I had met Adam Buttons, seeing Red at the events he emceed, such as at a Friar's Club benefit for a dying comedian that attracted Sid Ceasar, Milton Berle, "Get Smart" producer Leonard Stern and Arnold Schwarzenegger (!!) among the speakers. At the Friar's event, Red was sitting in back the entire time, scribbling on his notepad. He was writing and re-writing until his appearance - as the showstopper closer - when he just destroyed. Hilarious man!

Years later, long after Adam and I became friends, Red Buttons, then into his early '80s, was scheduled to perform at a Beverly Wilshire fundraiser. It was on the night of a Lakers championship game, and I was in the back of the banquet hall where the younger audience members were more tuned into the game on the TV sets. Some of them were very disrespectful, mocking the benefit's headliner, whom they thought was old hat, passe', Squaresville!

Well, guess what? Not only did Red get up there and perform, he fuckin' killed the room, and everyone, INCLUDING the young cynics in the back, were roaring with laughter at his killer jokes and awesome delivery. And remember, unlike Berle, Hope and others of his generation, he always wrote his own material.

Red Buttons....comedian, Emmy-winnner, Oscar-winner (for "Sayonara" - he played opposite Marlon Brando - actor of his generation -and yet it was Buttons who won the Academy Award!)....February was Red's birthday month. He is truly missed!

Thankfully, he lives on via the entertainment he left us and in his children, Adam and Amy Buttons.

Amen, Buttons!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


One of the BLOODY THE BLOODHOUND strips from early in my cartooning career, circa 1993.

These BLOODY THE BLOODHOUND strips (along with my PROFESSOR PAP BACHELOR EMERITUS strips and a bunch of one shots) were among the comics I produced that ran in HEAVY METAL magazine shortly before I joined CAPS (Cartoon Art Professional Society, the club founded by Sergio Aragones in 1977) after a ringing endorsement from the legendary MAD cartoonist Sergio Aragones (wow, 20 years ago this year. Amazing...). Here's a shot of us last month.

Monday, February 11, 2013

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE HUMAN FLY, debuting San Diego Comic-Con 2013!

Big News! The Human Fly will return in 2013....and this ain't no stunt!

I'll be editing and contributing to THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE HUMAN FLY, a graphic novel inspired by the upcoming movie, which debuts at SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2013! 

As a youth, my first issue of the original Marvel Comics' HUMAN FLY was a Frank Robbins issue --#8 -- and still my favorite issue of the run.

Here's the rest of the official press release:

Masked daredevil The Human Fly has just pulled off the ultimate stunt – he’s come back from the dead.

Popularized by a 1970s Marvel Comic, the stuntman superhero will return to comic books in July 2013, with a worldwide debut at San Diego Comic-Con.

The comic book is part of a multi-media revival of the real-life costumed daredevil which will include animated cartoons, apparel, and a motion picture to be directed by by Steven Goldmann (Trailer Park of Terror) and produced by Alan Brewer (Playing For Keeps) and Blaine McManus (Sailboat) with co-Executive Producer Joel Eisenberg (April Showers) from a screenplay by Tony Babinski. The film is currently in pre-production.

Inspired by a true story, The Human Fly tells the tale of Joe, a young sausage maker who bets it all on an alleged Hollywood stuntman who claims that 60% of his body has been remade of steel after a near fatal car crash. With their first stunt - riding the back of DC-8 jet while in flight - the Human Fly quickly becomes one of the fastest-rising celebrities of the late 70‘s, taking Joe, his buddies, and all his money along for the ride of their lives!

The new graphic novel-format comic book will feature the talents of a who’s who of L.A.’s comic book scene as well as a gallery of pin-ups by veteran artists who worked on the original 1977-78 Marvel series.

Cartoonist Michael Aushenker (“El Gato, Crime Mangler,” “Bart Simpson”) will edit the trade paperback anthology, which will include collaborations by Aushenker and his “Gumby’s Gang Starring Pokey” artist, Rafael Navarro (“Sonambulo”); “The Human Fly” screenwriter Babinski and Javier Hernandez (“El Muerto, Aztec Zombie”); and writer/producer Steve Kriozere (creator of Cinemax's TV series “Femme Fatale”) with artist Jason Baroody ("Combat Jacks"); and "Trailer Park of Terror" creators Christopher March and James Dracoules.

Original “Human Fly” cover artists and inkers contributing pinups will include Bob Layton, Al Milgrom, Don Perlin and Steve Leialoha, as will longtime “Unknown Soldier” and “Incredible Hulk” artist Gerry Talaoc, Steve Butler (“Web of Spider-Man”), John Heebink (“Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), current Marvel alum Nelson Faro DeCastro ("Iron Man," "X-Men," "The Thing"), and alternative comics star Jim Rugg (“Afrodisiac”). Iconic letterer Janice Chiang ("Alpha Flight," "Iron Man") will contribute some lettering. Layton will provide the cover art.

While the original Marvel series only ran for 19 issues, the Human Fly has grown a cult following over the decades.Babinski, Goldmann, and Brewer plan to sequel-ize the new graphic novel, as well as post original web comics on their official website,

Friday, February 8, 2013

M-m-m-m-m-MAD-ness: SERGIO ARAGONES at last night's CAPS meeting - Burbank, CA


As this MAD MAGAZINE legend is wont to do, SERGIO ARAGONES whips up cartoons on the spot almost as fast as he can think 'em up.

Here, he draws up a self-portrait sketch that will be hung up at the bowling alley in Montrose, CA, which invited all of us to draw our most notable characters to add to their walls. 

(Sergio is wearing a tee shirt with his own design from the museum retrospective on his work that was held in his Ojai community a few years back....)

Last night at our CAPS meeting, Sergio shared many stories from his adventures creating gags punching up the script for "George of the Jungle" (the Brendan Frasier movie), creating animated cartoons for "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" in a weekend, and live drawing on such programs as "Speak Up America" (plus being profiled on "Real People." Terrific stuff!

It's been 20 years since I joined CAPS now - thanks to club founder Sergio's endorsement - and I'm STILL in awe when around this man. Sergio Aragones is hands down the greatest cartoonist I've ever befriended. To go from avidly reading his work as a kid and teen, to becoming a good acquaintance, is one of the greatest events of my life. A brilliant cartoonist and a great man.