Comic-Con 2007: Spike and Mike's Gauntlet

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It's 1:30 a.m. late Friday night, and I'm lying on a sheet of cardboard in the back of a minivan, headed God knows where, amid sliding packages of toys, many of them mine that I've hauled around all day in addition to the laptop slowly eating its way through my shoulder till it will eventually cleave arm from shoulder. When offered a ride home, it never occurred to ask if there might actually be seats inside the vehicle of transit.

30 minutes earlier: I ask the driver if he knows where I'm staying.
"Yeah, Alvarado or something, right?"
"Doesn't sound like you do know." (check the directions in my pocket.) "Okay, yeah, Alvarado Canyon."
"Oh ye of little faith."

Now: "You're on Alvarado street, right?"
"Alvarado Canyon. Is that the same thing?"
No, says the other guy in the car.
"Me of little faith, right?"

I should point out that I would trust this particular driver with my life. But not, on this evening, with my directions.

This is relevant to Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted festival of animation, and not just because that's why I'm still awake...

The first time I saw Sick & Twisted, I didn't like it. Aside from the Beavis & Butt-head shorts, it was mostly poorly animated student films about people taking a shit and wiping their ass on the cat, or something similar. Toilet scenes are not inherently funny, and if you think they are, no doubt you have at least one male relative who'll let you watch. Leave the rest of us alone.

But when I worked at the Laemmle Sunset 5 movie theater, working the midnight shows, I got to meet a fellow named Brian Gaughan who ran the merchandise stand. Far from being twisted himself, he's now a stable father of two.

He still does work for Spike, and it's out of loyalty to him that I'm here, rather than at the Flash Gordon costume contest downtown.

Sick & Twisted has changed over the years. Spike now does a thing called "The Gauntlet," where cartoons that are booed heavily get yanked in the middle, and those which are cheered become part of the show.

I'm not going to describe every one. But the best was called "Lapsus," selected by Brian at an animation fest. It's a surreal black and white number that takes advantage fo form and structure as meted out upon a nun. Conceptually a little Hertzfeldt-esque, but hard to explain. Like, the nun sticks her head into a black area, and the black are merges with her habit so her head falls off. You just have to see it, really.

Based on the show, though, these are the rules for getting cheered:

-A cum shot, or the promise of one, guarantees success.
-Any short that begins with a baby crying gets booed.
-A poorly animated animal movie will only get booed until it shows a horse fucking a bird. Then it gets a huge ovation.
-Shorts about anthropomorphic food dying a horrible death when a person eats it will always go over well.
-Any cartoon that gets booed at first can recover if an act of brutal violence occurs.
-Graphic sex is a sure thing. Graphic defecation, not so much.
-Anyone getting their ass beat is popular.
-Hip-hop is a minefield with this crowd. Use it, or Ebonics, VERY sparingly if at all.

Anyway, a much better show than the old ones. One may not always agree with the gauntlet concept to recognize that it's better than Spike's judgment alone.

Meanwhile, back in the 1:30 timeframe, Mr. Gaughan's Wild Ride has concluded. I try to buy a toothbrush from the vending machine, but while it accepts and registers the first dollar, inserting a second causes the first one to get spit out. I don't have the energy to debate this point.

Besides, in 5 hours I have to be up again for breakfast with James Wan (see earlier post)


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