Saturday, May 29, 2010


Just what the world needs, right? Yet ANOTHER online destination of something....well, for no good reason at all, I've created a CARTOON FLOPHOUSE humor comics page at FACEBOOK, to be devoted in time to the CF comics of Aushenker and Cabrera (CRYING MACHO MAN). But it's in a nascent form right now.

But feel free to join and after that, I guess ignore it for a while? I'll try to keep things flowing over there but right here at the blog will remain the main headquarters for your breaking CARTOON FLOPHOUSE news.

Smarter than the average insurgent rebel?

Hey, there, it's not the Aztlan Movement or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, but Yogi Bear!

The bears were at Jellystone National Park first, okay? They were there before and they will be there after Ranger Smith and his gringo occupiers vacate the land that used to belong to the bears, man!

Yogi, you keep up the good fight, scaring campers, stealing picnic baskets, and causing all sorts of mayhem for Ranger Smith until those vatos finally stop exploiting the land that is not theirs and return the park to Yogi, Boo Boo, and his ilk (or, in this case, is it elk?).

Power to the Peebles! (ie. Magilla Gorilla)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hey, Arnold!

Have I gone topsy turvy? Touche!

Wow, 2010 has been odd regarding comics-related entertainment.

I actually LIKED (not loved but LIKED) that G.I. JOE movie (caught it this year on DVD) that was the scorn of every critic's wrath (it was better than TRANSFORMERS 2....really!).....I've somehow managed to NOT see the IRON MAN 2 movie yet because I didn't dig the trailer.....I kind of want to see JONAH HEX which some insiders claim is horrible but it looks really good to me.....and that MARMADUKE movie that is the joke of the blogosphere? I'm telling you, it's going to make a TON of money...and dare I say it, it doesn't look that bad (for what it is).

I also have no interest to see a reboot of SPIDER-MAN or another X-MEN movie (WOLVERINE killed my appetite! SNIKT!)

Are comics-related movies just getting worse so that my expectations have been lowered on good films and raised on bad films? Or has my taste compass finally cracked?!

While I ponder this pressing philosophical question, I'd like to wish all you Flophousers a terrific, fun and safe holiday weekend.

-- The Management

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Have not seen IRON MAN 2 yet, but I'm guessing....

...that this vintage cover is somehow more exciting than the entire sequel.

Maybe I'm just being cynical. Who knows? I might dig IRON MAN 2 after all. A few people dogged THE INCREDIBLE HULK and I thought that one was fun.

I'll let you know after I see IM2. May take a few weeks though, been busy! And it can't be worse than GI JOE (which I actually liked in a B-movie kind of way) or, worst of all, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (the pits!)

BACK ISSUE #40: An Indirect Celebration of Atlas Comics' Anniversary!

Well, maybe that's going a bit far, but June marks the 35th anniversary of the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard company. And in the current cat-themed issue of BACK ISSUE #40 has, as my contributions, a feature article on TIGER-MAN, the short-lived series about a fashion-challenged superhero who looks like a bitter reject of Broadway's CATS drawn by STEVE DITKO, with a sidebar on THE COUGAR, a cat-in-name-only character with Frank Springer art.

This TIGER-MAN piece is an expansion of a shortie version I did for DITKOMANIA #75.

In short, Atlas is largely perceived as former Marvel Comics publisher Martin Goodman's attempt to bury his former company (for firing his son, an ineffectual publisher/editor) by flooding the comics racks with comics aping the Marvel formula. The experiment, of course, was a disaster and the entire company folded within a year in 1975, despite boasting such talents as Ditko, Rich Buckler, Neal Adams, Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, Al Milgrom, Ernie Colon, Russ Heath and Larry Hama.

And speaking of Larry, I'll have a good-sized interview with Mr. Hama, largely considered the creator of and most important cog in the revamping of the GI JOE brand in its contemporary supergroup form, in BACK ISSUE #43. (Did I mention a few posts back that I actually somewhat LIKED the GI JOE movie, which, as shlocky as it was, had a B-level charm to it missing from similar stuff like TRANSFORMERS 2). So look for that, it's a terrific overview of a career that's spanned from comic comics and superheroes to historical stuff and something called "Barack the Barbarian."

In the meantime, make a beeline for the feline and order BACK ISSUE #40 today through or at your local comics shop.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CARTOON FLOPHOUSE Comics Now Distributed Digitally by WOWIO.COM

I'm very excited about this leap into the digital domain for CARTOON FLOPHOUSE humor comics.

WOWIO, a leading online distributor of comic books and graphic novels, has become my official digital distributor. In fact, if you go to the WOWIO home page right now, you'll see the cover for FLOOP! FEATURING HARRY LUMMEL being touted as one of their latest books.

The way it works: CARTOON FLOPHOUSE has a homepage within the WOWIO site, from which comic book readers can download my titles for 99 cents a piece. Currently, the titles up at the CARTOON FLOPHOUSE WOWIO HOME PAGE (still being built) include:




(an advance preview, as it hasn't even come out yet in book for, it's slated to debut at APE in San Francisco in October!)

In June, CARTOON FLOPHOUSE FEATURING GREENBLATT THE GREAT! #2 and SILLY GOOSE will be available. So stay toon'd!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy birthday, Stan!

If my memory is intact, today is the birthday of cartoonist STAN SAKAI, creator of the long-running "funny animal" epic USAGI YOJIMBO. In fact, it's up for an Eagle Award in Great Britain for the category of best b/w American comic as we speak! (thanks, Nilskidoo, for the heads-up!)

Stan has been an acquaintance of mine for years via my membership at CAPS, the cartoonist society he's been a member of since it was founded in 1977. As a person, he's also one of the coolest and easiest-going cartoonists I've ever met, his wife and daughter are terrific, too. And his talent, his work ethic, and his independent vision in this superhero-saturated medium has always been an inspiration. In the repetitive world of mainstream comics, Stan is his own man. Because a diversity of genres and styles is always a good thing, we need more Stan Sakais (no, wait, not people copying Stan, I mean people as talented and distinctive in direction as him! Phew!)

For various reasons, I have not been able to make the monthly CAPS meetings of late (although I need to soon) so if Stan is out there somewhere in the blogosphere, I'll wish him a happy birthday from afar!

Have a fun one, Stan!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Perhaps sometimes a bad movie idea REALLY IS a bad movie idea

This from an article on the box office performance of MACGRUBER over this weekend:

"MacGruber," a parody of the 1980s series "MacGyver," set a new low in the undistinguished commercial history of movies based on "Saturday Night Live" skits. The inexpensive Rogue Pictures film, which was distributed by Universal Pictures, opened to a dismal $4.1 million.
That's the smallest opening ever for an "SNL" movie in wide release, below even the opening of "The Blues Brothers" in 1980 when ticket prices were a fraction of what they are today. It's also the worst debut for any movie in wide release so far in 2010.

"Blues Brothers 2015," anyone? Hmmm....wonder if that bodes well for the A-TEAM movie....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Tintinnial!

TINTIN creator Herge would've been 103 today, so I hear.

The TINTIN books have definitely been a flashpoint of debate, controversy and criticism over the years, but as a kid devouring comics, I was oblivious to all that. My Mom used to bring home an album or two whenever she traveled to France to visit relatives, and as a pre-teen, I'd spend hours emulating Herge's tropes in my own work.

Regardless Herge's political views or associations, there's no denying the power and the influence on comicdom worldwide of those great TINTIN books. It's a shame having to sound so defensive (people often are, due to some of the stereotypical looking characters in his books) because the TINTIN books are classics and among the best comics I've ever read. Herge was certainly a master and a genius in his field, and his influence endures to this day, including in the work of one of my favorite cartoonists, Norway's Jason.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pali Film Fest 2010 was happenin', Sven. But 2008 was great, Tate!

A few days ago, I posted about a living-room rave-up featuring musician Chris Montez at this year's Pali Film Fest.

This year's Film Fest was fun, but nothing can beat the first year I attended, when actors Seymour Cassel (from one of my all-time favorite comedies, HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, among others) and Robert Guillaume were honored. Here's me and Seymour laughing it up poolside:

And wait! Can it be? Yes it is!

Actress Marla Gibbs came down to cheer on Guillaume. That's right, the tart, forked-tongued Florence from THE JEFFERSONS! In real life, she's really the total opposite - very sweet and soft-spoken. I'm in heaven with the star of 227!

Happy 30th Anniversary, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest sequels ever made (and at least the second best STAR WARS movie, some say THE best....)------THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

I remember seeing the originally STAR WARS with my dad at Seaview Theaters in Brooklyn. That was 1977. In 1979, we moved to Los Angeles and somehow my dad had befriended someone with film industry ties. Or a good enough tie to land us an advance studio screening to EMPIRE a week before it opened nationwide.

You can imagine my excitement of seeing the sequel to what I thought at the time was one of the greatest films ever (I also really loved 1978's SUPERMAN) on the lot of the very studio that made it----a week before the rest of the country, which was brimming with anticipation, of course. STAR WARS was the highest-grossing film of all time (a title broken by TITANIC). Wow, seeing a preview of EMPIRE.....Especially EMPIRE with its crazy revelations and wonderfully oblique, resolved yet open-ended ending (little did we know that more Muppets were on the horizon [sorry, Yoda]...)

Of course, EMPIRE, with its brilliant visual set pieces, more than lived up to my expectations. In retrospect, after seeing it a few times over the years, the Yoda stuff bogs down the film's pace, and I feel that overall nothing beats the original STAR WARS, which set everything up and which portrays Darth Vader at his most evil and mysterious. But EMPIRE still holds up. It's still one hell of a movie, and seeing it for the first time, you have no idea where it's all going so it's totally magical.

I can't think of many sequels that match or top the original. Some say GODFATHER II (but I personally way prefer the original). SUPERMAN II is terrific. THE DARK KNIGHT improves on BATMAN BEGINS. BILL AND TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY? No way. But EMPIRE definitely belongs in that rare club. As for STAR WARS, from RETURN OF THE JEDI on, it's like an Alpine slalom's all downhill, folks! EMPIRE is one of the great sequels, perhaps the greatest sequel ever.

Cosmically, in adulthood, I wound up moving to Beverlywood just walking distance from 20th Century Fox, where from the Pico and Motor entrance, I could see the giant EMPIRE mural on one of the Fox buildings' wall every time I passed by. Such is the magic of life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ain't no party like a Ditko party.....

The Sonambulist..... A pre-Spider-Man and Dr. Strange piece from the master of the macabre. From "Do You Believe in Nightmares?" #1 (November 1957, St. John)

My Montez Moment...or a Montez Montage, if you will

Here's Aushenker in full journalist mode at the second night of the Pacific Palisades Film Festival on Saturday, May 15, interviewing Hawthorne native Chris Montez, the subject of "The Chris Montez Story," a new documentary by Palisadian Burt Kearns and Malibuvian Brett Hudson ("The Seventh Python").

The film, a work in progress, was very entertaining, as is Mr. Montez, who performed his two biggest hits, K-Earth staple "Let's Dance," and the Herb Alpert-shepherded "Call Me," in an impromptu living-room concert right after the film screened. What a crazy fun night!

Montez was only 19 when he headlined a European tour with singer Tommy Roe and an obscure opening band. Unfortunately for these guys, that obscure band was The Beatles, the tour ended in Liverpool, and this was 1963, so over the course of their tour, the Beatles' popularity went nuclear. For you youngins, it's the equivalent of the Jonas Brothers playing the Grove. (yeah, riiiight....)

Once again, Friends of Film founder Bob Sharka ran a fun show, with actress Frances Fisher being honored on opening night. I wrote about the entire festival here.

Photos by Bert Kearns and Michael Aushenker

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Marvel Bullpen Bullsh*t

I enjoyed reading these unvarnished quotes gathered in Marvel's hey day by some Bullpen insider (keep clicking on the column to enlarge to readable size).

Judging from those involved, this would have to be from somewhere in the late '70s through early '80s when John V. and Archie G. were alive and Shooter was running things. Actually, these quotes are not as catty as one would think coming out of an office situation (and they pale to some of the insults I've heard behind the scenes interviewing talent for BACK ISSUE magazine). If anything these comments are kind of witty at best.

Although I find all of the Claremont quotes ironic since I think he's the ultimate one-trick pony writer (better yet: one-trick phony??). Fuck Claremont and his boring, convoluted X-writing: Mike Friedrich rocks! Golem, Phantom Stranger! Whatup, whatup!

Happy 10th birthday, Pippi and Fifi!



Two special members of the CARTOON FLOPHOUSE family celebrated the big 1-0 yesterday. The sisters Pippi Longstocking Aushenker and Fifi Bunnyfoot Aushenker.

Happy birthday, gals!

Tell Your Mummy: SD Comic-Con (July), Alternative Press Expo (Oct.) are coming!

Ladies and gentleman, how about a nice round of applause for JACK SPARLING for the Mummy comics intro. You can read the entire comic here.

Hey, guys and gals:

It's going to be a light convention year for me this year as I work on new comics and as we revamp the CARTOON FLOPHOUSE Website and brand to include Jose Cabrera and his CRYING MACHO MAN comics. The new Cartoon Flophouse comics company will be something akin to a two-man Harvey Comics for grown-ups, with crazy humor magazines featuring AWOL roosters (Jose's weasely little chicken Goya, my Clucky from UNSTOPPABLE ROGUES), scaredy cats (El Macho) and lots and lots of bald guys (Balding Berto, Greenblatt the Great! and Jose the Cabby).

But don't despair, I'll be signing books at the two big Cali conventions:

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON (mid-July) -- No table this year, but I'll be a guest on Friday and Saturday at WILDCARD INK, home of Gumby Comics, with my pal, Wildcard Ink chieftain and DEAD AHEAD writer the mighty MEL SMITH running things like Capone ran Chicago (and leaving Geraldo Rivera in a vault!) It's always a fun time with Team Gumby, a lot of fun nonsense, not to mention those Gumby comics and merch sells like pancakes at a pancake convention inside an IHOP on a planet where its citizens only eat pancakes to survive (a poor analogy but you get my drift).

ALTERNATIVE PRESS EXPO, San Francisco (mid-October) -- For many reasons, APE is my favorite show to do. While Comic-Con is filled with not a moment's rest from the scale and excitement of a megashow (and with that comes a lot of incredible people I meet every year, pros and fans alike), APE is big enough to generate a sliver of that excitement but also intimate enough where you can focus on meeting people and having conversations that would be a quick blur at Comic-Con. If you've never been to APE, it's highly recommended. Plus: SF is a fun city to run around!

More info on these conventions as we get closer.........

.....And more when we get there on the new CARTOON FLOPHOUSE comics company, your one-stop destination for the best humor comics!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Where the hell is that new Redman album? I believe it's called REGGIE or REGGIE NOBLE and it was supposed to drop on May 4, but like many recent projects with Redman on it (RED GONE WILD, BLACKOUT 2), it's delayed up the wazoo. (I'm assuming by his record label, Def Jam, and if that's a case, what a whopping lack of respect for a top drawer musician!)

BLACKOUT 2 was pretty sweet, not too far in quality from the original BLACKOUT. It was that good. I'd say a solid B + to BLACKOUT's A+.

That label has become a ghost of its former self. It used to be the cutting edge label, back when you had the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and EPMD going on (plus Run-DMC by blood relations). Even in the '90s you had DMX and Jay-Z there. And now? WHO THE HELL KNOWS?!?! Do I dare call it "wack?" Do I dare suggest that we pretend they're based in Phoenix and boycott their molasses asses!

But at least put out the damn Redman album already! Like right about nnnnnoooooooooooooow!

Monday, May 17, 2010

DITKOMANIA #79 is out....of control!

Hats off to Rob Imes and company for another excellent issue of DITKOMANIA!

It's the "Ditko's Women" issue and I dug the article on Betty Brant by Ceylon Anderson, punctuated by that gripping symbolic panel of a phantom Spider-Man keeping Betty and Peter Parker apart from Amazing Spider-Man #30. Bruce Buchanan writes an enlightening piece about the little known Liberty Belle. Ye ed in chief tackles Fera of one of my favorite Ditko works, STATIC. The highlight of this issue for me: "I Dated Squirrel Girl," an article by William Murray about his Marvel creation, the weirdo Iron Man villain Squirrel Girl, the real-life girl behind the Squirrel Girl, and, of course, Steve Ditko!

But here's the wildest part of the book: Nick Caputo caps off a great article on Gwen Stacy positing a theory that when Ditko walked off the Spider-Man book, he took the storyline with him and continued it at Charlton with his Blue Beetle comics. It might be hard to confirm this theory, but it's totally plausible.

Art-wise, this issue is in solid shape, from a cover by Dave Sim (who also contributes a letter) to a nice illo of the Unveiled Lady from my buddy Javier Hernandez. Bravo, Mr. Imes. This really is the age of living carpe DM!

P.S. No column from me in this issue, but my DITKOTOMY column returns in DM#80, yo!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

FANGFACE: More fun than I remembered!

Ah, FANGFACE! How do you solve a problem like Sherman Fangsworth?

This cartoon originally aired for exactly one year from Sept. '78 to Sept. '79. I remember not caring for it, yet another in a long line of Scooby-Doo knock-offs (usually done by Scooby-Doo's Hanna-Barbara, but this time perpetrated by Ruby/Spears). My reaction was, "What, are you kidding me? Another twist on Scooby-Doo???!!!!" We already had Goober, Jabberjaw, the Funky Phantom, that dune buggy thing, and the original Ghostbusters. How many goddamn ghost chasers do we need?

Well, in a turn-around of opinion some 31 years later, I've been catching reruns of FANGFACE on Boomerang and I'm rather enjoying the nonsense. Biff, Kim, Puggsy (with his hat!) and Sherman "Fangs" Fangsworth are an enjoyable bunch. (The only downside is the totally superfluous Scrappy-Doo knock-off, Baby Fangs! (Thanks again, Evanier!) Kim is ethnically vague - she looks like the typical Caucasian chick in these things but with a tan. Biff is the Fred of the show, the jock leader. Puggsy is a Costello-esque sidekick from Brooklyn or Boston or something who should operate as Shaggy, except that the Scooby of the show -- Fangface --- is his own Shaggy! He turns back into Fangs. Whenever Fangface sees a sun--even if it's a design on Kim's pajamas - he turns back into Fangs. The villains are awesome. Like this gargoyle character from a few nights ago.

FANGFACE: Crazy late-night fun!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cartoons and Race: The Baba Louie Cover-Up?

There's a hypocrisy in the race community.

Often, Speedy Gonzales is singled out as a bad stereotype of Mexicans...but nobody is talking about Quick Draw McGraw's sidekick, Baba Louie (above)!

Like Speedy, he wears a big sombrero. He speaks in a lazy English with a thick over-the-top accent. He also works in cartoons (for Hanna-Barbara, not Warner Bros. like Speedy). I'm not defending Speedy, I'm just wondering why Baba Louie is not part of the "Cartoons and Race" discussion. I'm positing a theory that there is a pernicious campaign out there to keep Baba Louie hush-hush!

Is the Hanna-Barbara lobby so powerful that they can out-bribe WB and shove the Baba Louie controversy to the backburner of our watercooler talk? (a mixed metaphor, I know!)

Evidently the H-B influence is very powerful, or else America would notice that all of their cartoons are horrific stereotypes.
Heck, if you're looking for stereotypes, just turn on Boomerang Zoo on Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel. No one peddles more stereotypes than those old Hanna-Barbara cartoons. Is there anyone more gay than Snagglepuss (who does a lousy, rot-gut Groucho Marx impression, by the way)? Huckleberry Hound is from the South and boy is he slow and stupid! What about Atom Ant's arch-nemesis, Professor Von Gimmick, a despicable depiction of an Austrian/German? Or the random crusty old white guys who pop up, like the Major, a big game hunter after Snagglepuss? Or the railroad president Ronald Roundhouse and outlaw Moose Caboose in "Quick Draw McGraw?" The Colonel and Rube in "Yogi Bear?" I've never witnessed a sadder depiction of Caucasians in my 33 years on this planet!

Sigh! When will cartoons ever stop mocking us and show us the serious, grounded-in-reality depictions of society we deserve?!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Summer 2010: What Kind of Moviegoer Are YOU?

With all of the reboots, remakes and sequels blooming on multiplexes and Imax screens everywhere, Summer 2010 is shaping up to be the most original movie-season in ages. So in order to decipher what’s what in this parade of quality (in reverse), I thought I’d offer this handy movie-goer’s guide:


*If you go to see IRON MAN 2, then you are a schmoo. Because every schmoo and their grandmother, too, will run to see IRON MAN 2. So why not you, you fuckin’ schmoo!

*If you’re up to no good, go see ROBIN HOOD. It opens this week against week 2 of IRON MAN 2. So give my regards to the empty seats and crickets. Tell the projectionist I said “Shalom!”

*If you’re an unmarried old crow, off to SEX AND THE CITY 2 you will go! Four two hours, you can watch the four ancient ladies have hot flashes and flashbacks to the SEX AND THE CITY TV series, when they used to have fun. Don’t forget your rocking chair and Countrytime lemonade, old maid!

*If you’re a little shit, go see THE KARATE KID, because that movie is for little shits. What’s that, little shit? At school, you’re being bullied and hit? Then run and hide inside the theater playing KARATE KID, you little shit! Man, if you were here, I’d punch you in the tit!

*If you’re a piece of dreck, go see the latest SHREK! It’s subtitled “The Final Chapter.” One should hope!

*If you’re a pretentious pretender, your movie is THE LAST AIRBENDER. Bored this movie will render people of any gender!

*If you’re hiding from your creditors, run and see PREDATORS. Because it’ll hit the $1 theater a week after it opens and that won’t pinch your pocketbook!

*If you’re a pathetic awkward teen girl, give TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE a whirl. You’ll never get to fuck Robert Pattinson in a million years, but ain’t it nice to dream, pathetic little awkward teen?

*If you’re lacking sex, go see JONAH HEX. It co-stars Megan Fox, so later that evening, you can roll your rocks!
*If you’re an alternative comics geek, it’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE UNIVERSE you seek! But see it opening week, because it may not be in theaters the following week, you goddamn comics geek!

*What’s that you ask? What about li’l ol’ me? Oh, I’m going to see DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, aw, shucks! Unfortunately, I can’t think of a pejorative for the people seeing DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS. Saw-wee!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hero Worship: Yippie yo, COWBOY HENK!

I'm always in the mood for my favorite gag cartoon, from the Belgian duo of Kamagurka and Herr Seele. Some guy posted these, from KING OF MENTAL FLOSS (a Fantagraphics collection which actually contains the weakest Cowboy Henk cartoons I've ever read, the best being the ones I read in the Parisian anthologyh PSIKOPAT and in those old RAW anthologies). Nevertheless, Henk is Henk and even at its weakest, it's funnier than most!

I don't even know for sure if Kamagurka and Seele still pump these humor comics out. I've seen European digest editions that I would kill to have - I think they're from the '90s - but I have no idea how to get them. (They're probably in Dutch anyway.)

Anyway, fun stuff!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Current reading: "Wally's World" biography on cartoonist Wally Wood

Currently reading "Wally's World: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Wally Wood, the World's Second Best Comic Book Artist" by Steve Starger and J. David Spurlock. I'm enjoying learning about the THUNDER AGENTS artist, even if this biography doesn't move very fast. The pacing is kind of sluggish and there's some padding going on. But overall, it's an interesting read about an interesting bloke, who somehow wound up in the Valley, where he killed himself (I guess North Hollywood sometimes has that effect on a person...)

Below is what I wrote as a quickie review listing on the book's Amazon page, which sums up my feelings on it:

As a longtime comic book reader, I very much appreciated "Wally's World: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Wally Wood, the World's Second Best Comic Book Artist." It's an interesting biography about a cartoonist whose work has mesmerized many but whose life many do not know much about. A disturbing image materializes as the book goes along that amounts to a sad end for one of the most accomplished and versatile comic book cartoonists to ever pick up the brush and ink bottle. The book is not without some flaws. Several detours, such as the chapter on the back story on Wood's Finnish heritage, overreach. There are also gratuitous misspellings, typos and grammatical errors (evidently, the writers do not socialize with editors much). Frankly, this bio will probably not appeal much to those outside of comics fandom circles. However, for fans of Wood's "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" and "Daredevil," "Wally's World" is a must-read.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

DC Puts a "Hex" on Marvel at the Multiplexes

Ever since the IRON MAN 2 trailer was released, I've been kind of underwhelmed by it, and a wave of bad buzz and reviews of the film seems to be confirming that the sequel may not be this series' EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, SUPERMAN II or DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (Oh, well....there's always IRON MAN 3!!!!)

The comic book movie I AM kind of jazzed about is the JONAH HEX flick starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox. It's at:

Recently, I've been delving into a lot more DC Comics than I used to as a kid, stuff like THE PHANTOM STRANGER with DR. 13, the terrific Dick Ayers/Gerry Talaoc work on THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, and the Gardner Fox/Mike Sekowsky run of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA from the early Sixties (which stemmed from my interest in Sekowsky from the brilliant T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS for Tower).

Another thing factoring into my interest in the JONAH HEX movie is that I'm acquainted with co-creator Tony DeZuniga--the original artist on the Bronze Age mag--and his lovely wife Tina.

And finally, JONAH HEX has a fun trailer and, despite some bad buzz on THAT movie (they did some reshoots), the HEX flick seems to capture the spirit of Tony's character and the comics. (Not to mention Megan Fox is easier on the eyes than Gwyneth Paltrow or Scarlet Johannson.)

SUPERMAN RETURNS aside, DC Comics seems to be doing quite well with their movie adaptations in recent years. The Batman flicks are superlative, WATCHMEN was not nearly as bad as some people said it was (in fact, it was pretty interesting, and I actually thought the ending improved on the book's version). And I'm actually looking forward to a GREEN LANTERN movie.

Meanwhile, Marvel's movies are kind of cheesing out. SPIDER-MAN 2 and 3 could have been way better, I thought WOLVERINE was abysmal (it made the weak X3 look like a classic), and I skipped ELEKTRA and PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL. THE INCREDIBLE HULK was great, but the original IRON MAN started out pretty strong and became more mechanical as it went along. Who knows if THE MIGHTY THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA will be better movies than BATMAN 3, which is due out against THE AVENGERS.

One thing is for sure though: it's fun to see Hollywood turn into the comic book racks of my youth! 'Nuff said, now scat, you zuvembies!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nothing personal, Mighty Thor.....

Growing up on '70s Marvel, Goddeth knoweth whyest, I didn't dig The Mighty Thor that much...(could it be the foul faux-Shakespearean language?). So understandably, The Mighty Thor movie is probably the one I'm least looking forward to. With an asterisk.*

*There was at least one issue of THE MIGHTY THOR that I really dug, and here it is:

It was just a good ol' fashioned smackdown between Thor and Blastaar. #270 with the dynamic Kirby-esque cover. A classic Bronze Age yarn. And of those cheap mid-60s Marvel Superheroes cartoons, I enjoyed the Thor episodes a lot (and I know the theme song by heart).

Perhaps if I had read more issues such as this one, I'd be more excited about the movie, although the above image of Chris Hemsworth (????) in costume sure looks promising. Although while it's nice when they do a faithful adaptation of the costume, it'd sure be sweeter if they could get that Kirby aesthetic into the film's art direction, which hasn't happened yet with the Marvel flicks and is sorely missing, especially from the FANTASTIC FOUR films.

*Despite my overall lack of expectations, of course, I plan to see the THOR movie opening weekend. It will be the event movie of that summer. And for all I know, it'll be better than IRON MAN 2 and the CAPTAIN AMERICA movie.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Behold! The Power of Comics....

Behold the power of Gene Colan's artistry!

I'm not knocking the movie version of IRON MAN, which is a pretty faithful design of the comics' version, especially now since we've escaped the "Dark Ages" when all Hollywood superheroes' costumes had to look like rejects from THE MATRIX and BLADE (see the X-MEN movies, DAREDEVIL, etc.)

But this is the IRON MAN I know and nothing will ever top it for me. I love Don Heck's original, I love Steve Ditko's innovations...but most of all, I love how Colan took all of that and ran with it. His design is bold yet beautiful, indestructible yet eloquent. I don't feel the IRON MAN armor has ever looked better, either before Colan....or since!


Sunday, May 2, 2010


Folks, has the popcorn gone stale?

I know summer is usually popcorn movie season, and I'm not opposed to good popcorn. I look back fondly as recently as Summer 2008, when IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS came out within a few weeks of each other.

But I think there's something wrong when the MARMADUKE movie trailer actually looks more interesting than everything else coming out this summer. And if you don't believe me, have you seen the clips for SHREK 4? TOY STORY 3? the A-TEAM movie (and other '80s rehashes like KARATE KID)? MACGRUBER (which is not even a legit '80s remake but a parody of an obscure '80s show)? I have to admit that based on the trailer, I'm underwhelmed with IRON MAN 2 (although I do intend to see it opening weekend....which is all the studios really care about...) and the bad buzz building for it doesn't give me much hope that this will be a very good sequel. I'm a little more into the trailer for JONAH HEX because at least it's something new and recently I've been on a DC Comics kick, reading-wise.

If you're a TWILIGHT fan, you've got something to look forward to, but I never made it past the first hour of the first movie. It just seems like HARRY POTTER for a slightly older crowd (age 15?). If you're a fan of Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell, it seems like diminishing returns with their new ones.

As usual, the left turns will probably be the best movies to surface. Either some indie films I haven't heard about yet. Or perhaps that Christopher Nolan movie that I don't know much about. But it sure as hell won't be that "spy comedy" NIGHT AND DAY starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Good grief!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Free Comics Day!