Sunday, July 27, 2014

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2014: A few words for my publisher, ACME's MEL SMITH

I'd like to thank my SLAYER and "Gumby's Gang Starring Pokey" comics publisher Mel Smith for making things happen again this year.
The SLAYER bio comic I wrote for ACME publisher Mel Smith

I don't see this guy often enough so any time we get to hang out is always quality time. This weekend was no different: a great mix of mirth and quality conversations/insights about the comics biz. I always walk away from my time with Mel knowing way more than when we get together.
SLAYER comic writer Michael Aushenker and ACME publisher Mel Smith at the ACME booth N-15 Small Press at San Diego Comic-Con, July 25, 2014
Back in March 2008, I got a very boorish and ham-fisted warning from a supposed professional 'cartoonist' (more like an illustrator because cartoonists usually create the characters they draw. OOF!). He warned me not to work with Mel, who had just offered me the chance to write some Gumby & Pokey comics. At the time, Mel had the keys to the Gumby & Pokey universe on paper and this mercenary buffoon didn't want to get involved because of money. He proceeded to bad-mouth Mel, painting him as some kind of crook, even poisoning the well between me and a couple of mutual acquaintances in the comics society I belong to.
That's what short-termers do: short-termers only see the immediate monetary value in something while long-termers can see the larger picture, the value of the journey and the experience itself, the colorful horizon further down the road ahead.
This artist was short-terming Gumby but I'm a long-termer. I saw the long-term value in getting to write Gumby & Pokey, a terrific property that I had enjoyed immensely growing up and, most of all, that had not been done to death in comics. I would have the rare opportunity to help define the Gumby & Pokey experience in comics. How could I NOT want to take that ride?
I'm also a good judge of character and I instantly recognized the good qualities in Mel: he's sharp, very quick, experienced, extremely knowledgable about the industry, confident without being arrogant, a doer, a mover and shaker who gets things done, and, as I have found out more and more in the passing years, a very altruistic and fiercely loyal friend. Mel looks out for and takes care of the interests of his friends ahead of merely making money. He's got a lot of heart. If he gets into scraps, it's because he's very sensitive, and his biggest disappointment in the comics industry is when people think short-term and put money over friendship and the journey.
At the end of the day, Mel's not in it for the money either, he's in it for the glory, whether it's the glory of keeping Gumby & Pokey, your favorite band, or a great still-underrated artist such as Alex Nino alive through comics.
Mel Smith at the ACME Comics booth at San Diego Comic-Con, July 26, 2014
The jaded short-termers who lack character will never understand a guy like Mel, and justly, their careers will not be defined by projects with integrity but by whatever pays their bills the quickest.
But after a long weekend of witnessing the way Mel interacted with his table partner Lazy Bones and quietly --without fuss -- helped give a leg up to my L.A. buds Luis Calderon and Johnny Parker II,

The NoCal/SoCal crew includes Ken "Lazy Bones" Thomas of Livermore, CA and Johnny Parker II and Luis Calderon of L.A. was terrific to witness the karmic payback when no less than Slayer guitarist Kerry King himself took interest in what Mel was doing and gave him props; a very auspicious debut for Mel's brand new line of metal comics.
Slayer's Kerry King with Mel Smith after Comic-Con on Thurs., July 24, 2014
Working on "Gumby's Gang Starring Pokey," released in 2010, has opened some doors for me in comics. But that, in itself, was NOT one of the great rides of my life. That would have to be actually working with Mel and the many benefits of our friendship and collaboration, and, six years later, that adventure continues with the comics we are currently putting together about Slayer, Judas Priest, Testament, Exodus and so on.
So thanks, Mel, for the continuing great ride that is your friendship and your ambitions. Looking forward to the next episode. See you in Stockton in a couple weeks.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GO, GENIUS, GO! issues #1 and 2 debuts at Stocktoncon on AUGUST 9TH!

With artist Marcus Collar doing the interior art and lettering and myself writing and painting the front and back covers, GO, GENIUS, GO!, a three-issue series on my Cartoon Flophouse imprint, is set to debut at STOCKTONCON in Stockton, California, on AUGUST 9th!

GO, GENIUS, GO! is a workplace comedy set at a tech startup in Irvine, California.

Marcus and I will have a table and we'll be selling issues #1 and #2 with issue #3 to come later this year. Here's a peak at our first two covers!

I'll also be taking part in a panel that day at the convention. See ya in Stockton!