Friday, October 30, 2015

Thirty Days of Short Reviews #30: Michael Aushenker

Humorist Michael Aushenker has never been afraid to get weird. He has a penchant for the silly, the grotesque and the just plain strange in his comics, as he's not afraid to chase the punchlines he finds amusing. The first two issues of his three issue comic book series, Go, Genius, Go! find Aushenker working in slightly different territory. With artist Marcus Collar handling the actual cartooning, Aushenker has crafted an off-kilter workplace comedy about a schlub named Derick. A movie blogger, his girlfriend walks out on him at the beginning of the story and it's revealed that he lives in the guest cottage in a retirement community. He bluffs his way into getting a job at an internet start-up thanks to his friends sending him info via bluetooth, and this yields a great salary, the sexual attentions of his beautiful boss, and an unrequited crush from a fellow worker. Everything's going his way until his girlfriend finds out he's a fraud, and his whole scheme unravels.

The detail from the story that I particularly enjoyed, however, was Derick taking advantage of a pricing error at a high-end grocery store in order to get some expensive cheese. Despite having enough money to buy it at full price, he can't help but be a scammer. At the end, even that's taken away from him. While I enjoyed the overall loopiness of the story, Collar's work was stiff and amateurish. His naturalistic approach didn't seem to suit the story, whose over-the-top nature would have been much better off with Aushenker's own grotesque line. I will be curious to see where Aushenker takes the story in its final issue.

Back in his comfort zone, Trolls features Aushenker doing both story and art, and it features various anthropomorphic characters behaving badly. The story is in full, lurid color, something Aushenker takes full advantage of in this story about a pair of slacker air traffic controllers who come up with the bright idea of hosting a wild party at work. The duo, Edward and Wayward, find themselves dodging landlords badgering them for rent, psychotic drug dealers looking for money owed, and sneaking around their draconian supervisor. Aushenker starts the story off crazy and continues to elevate it, as the debauchery depicted at the party is hilarious, drawn in Aushenker's dense line and saturated in his intense color schemes. The images of planes falling from the sky while the duo falls asleep on the job as a party rages around them is just the right kind of crazy. The backups, featuring his Unstoppable Rogues characters, trade in much the same territory: things getting out of hand in the workplace and leading to orgies, or else the main characters trying to score but sniffing glue until they pass out. There's something about the sheer, gleeful loudness in Aushenker's comics that I find to be fun; there's a lack of slickness and structure that actually helps some of his more familiar story elements find new life in his iteration of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment