“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived”

It’s the show mom and dad told me I couldn’t stay up to see until I was old enough; so of course I snuck downstairs to see it before it was allowed. It’s one of the few shows that remained appointment television when I got my first DVR. It’s a show that has remained firmly entrenched in the zeitgeist since its inception. Even when it was bad? It gave us Eddie Murphy. It’s spurned movie and TV careers for literally dozens of its long cast list.  Live from New York… It’s Saturday Night Live.

For many, whatever season(s) they caught first tend to set the bar of future expectations of quality and hilarity. For me personally, I became a fan somewhere towards the end of the ’95 season. This meant I missed Dana Carvey by a year, but got to see the end of Mike Myers, Adam Sandler and Chris Farley’s tenure. The very next season we got a fresh-faced set funny people: Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Cheri Oteri, and Molly Shannon (to name a few).

While most will agree that SNL itself ebbs and flows in quality — as casts learn to play off one another, writers get into a groove, and current events offer unique opportunities to capture the zeitgeist — the show by and large has become an institution unto itself. Not unlike the brainchild of Vince McMahon (the WWE), Lorne Michael’s not ready for primetime players has grown in stature and expectation such that it may live long after it’s impossibly driven creator should ever choose to retire. And make no bones about it. I personally believe Lorne and Vince will die while still maintaining duties in their respective kingdoms. But I digress. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #048: “Saturday Night Lived””

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #047: “The Three Bears of Selling”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #047: “The Three Bears of Selling”

Once upon a time, in a magical land called The Comic Con, there lived three bears. The first bear, Cool Carl, was a cool cat. Which was funny, because he wasn’t a cat at all. He was a bear! The second bear was named Pushy Peter. Ole’ Pete was a grouse of a beast! And that left Social Sam, the third bear. He was kind, and loved to talk-talk-talk.

And in their home of The Comic Con, Carl, Peter, and Sam all had one job to do: to sell their funny books in the magical forest to the other animals who lived in the land. Some animals liked scary stories. Others liked action and adventure! And still others were hipsters and they only liked books about books — old musty vintage books from yesteryear.

Well, on a day not unlike any other, Carl, Peter, and Sam all set up their tables to sell their wares. Cool Carl’s table was cool. He covered his table in a cool blue tablecloth, and decorated it with pictures he drew. Carl was a very good illustrator! Pushy Peter arrived at the space where his table was, and pushed it flat against a tree. Peter took box after box of his funny books, and stacked them high on his table against that tree. It wasn’t as neat and organized as Cool Carl’s table. Social Sam’s table looked a bit like both Carl and Peter’s — but with neatly stacked piles of books on top of a bright and festive table cover. Sam kept his table where it belonged. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #047: “The Three Bears of Selling””

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #046: “Gotta Catch Em All, Or Not”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #046: “Gotta Catch Em All, Or Not”

With but one major convention left on the docket for Unshaven Comics in 2019… I had a bit of a panic attack. Dragon Con is a mere less-than-half-a-month-away, and everything I thought we Unshaven Lads would have done is no where close to it. Welcome to me digitally cleaning out my closet, so you too can enjoy what it means to have a semi-professional business.

After leaving Denver’s Pop Culture Con in the spring happier-than-clams, Unshaven Comics took to a well-needed breather. Our long car ride home energized us for the multitude of tasks to complete before hitting Atlanta come Labor Day Weekend, yet here I sit — procrastinating by-way-of writing to you, my huddled dozens of fans. See? This is your fault.

Nah. It ain’t. It’s wholly ours. And while I’d love to sit here and tell you any completely believable excuses as to why our backlog of to-dos is still not-do’ed, it’s honestly a waste of both our times (for me to list it, and you read it and honestly not care). Beyond the simple — ordering posters, dry cleaning and pressing our table covers, and getting all our mise en place — a personal to-do bubbled up to the surface nary a week ago. And it rhymes with kvelling my soul. Gotta catch em all…

A little over a year ago, I had a complex desire: sell a product at the Unshaven table that wouldn’t compete for the attention of our comics, be easier to fulfil than commissioned sketches, and ultimately net me enough money per con-day to pay for dinner that same night. What I came up with has become a sullen obsession as of late. The notion: mash-up Pokémon with popular cartoons and characters in different universes. I started small, with the big three of both the Poke-universe, and the always-popular-now, Marvel Universe. I mashed Iron Man with tiny fiery dragon Charmander. I smooshed Captain America with water turtle Squirtle. And then I took Spider-Man and married him visually to the only-in-Japan-does-this-make-sense lizard-flower hybrid Bulbasaur.

I took those three designs, along with some My Little Pony mashups, and Teen Titan mashups I’d completed (for earlier commissions, now repurposed with permission by the original requester) and ultimately produced a set of collectible postcards. They were affordable for me to produce in small quantities, easy to display (literally put them on my third of the shared Unshaven table-space), and easy enough to price-to-move ($3 for 1, $10 for 5). After a little test-or-two at some smaller shows, the idea went gangbusters for me. Over the course of the year (2018), I expanded my repertoire eventually to 11 Poké-Vengers (and the stalwart ponies and titans as wonderful filler). And happily for my wallet, the cards have provided me exactly what I’d set them out to do, and very little more (equally an important notion — as it’s not my desire to become a shiller of commoditized parodies-for-profit).

Yet here I was just a week ago sweating bullets over forgetting my note-to-self post-Denver; to expand my ranks yet-again to truly lean in to the gimmick and see how far down the rabbit hole goes. Soon after Denver I’d purchased myself a beautiful tabletop spinner rack especially built for my cards. But the rack boasts 24 available slots. Given that I’d since run out of my stock of Ponies, and my Titans were never the sellers I’d longed them to be… I’d given myself the homework to complete one new Poké-Mashup a week between the Mile High City and Hotlanta. A week ago? I’d completed zero new designs. Panic button pushed.

It astonishes me, honestly, when my back is up against a wall, how well I can both manage my time and produce a litany of work. With a literal week until an internal deadline would be reached (where I’d not incur extraneous rush-fees to produce the final postcards and have them shipped-and-in-hand prior to wheels up for Atlanta (wheels up being a joke, kiddos, because we drive it)… I created enough new-and-pretty-sweet mashups to fill out my aforementioned spinner rack. Granted as of this writing, I’m not done yet. But let me take you through my insane work-flow:

  • I listed out all the current cards I’d had in my collection, and figured out I’d need to fill 13 spots with designs to have each slot in the rack with its own design.
  • I turned to the hive mind in my Facebook friends list to vote on how best to fill out the ranks (be it with a “stick to what brought you to the dance” and go all-Marvel, to split Marvel with “they still should be loved” DC, or to do a little more Marvel, a little DC, and some famous video game characters as a why-the-hell-not bit of fun. The votes overwhelmingly demanded that last option.
  • Knowing I had 3 commissioned cards (that originated digitally) I obtained permission from my customers to reproduce the cards for my set (because I think it’s only fair if someone gives me an idea to draw for them they should have a say if I care to profit from their idea after giving them what they paid for). 13 due now became 10.
  • I listed out each of the major characters I wanted to mash up, to ensure I didn’t duplicate any previously made mashup (because it’s not cool to just make a dozen different Pikachus to me)
  • Each night over the last 5 nights prior to this article being written, I inked 2 characters… bringing me to the 10 needed within a week.
  • I hired my Unshaven Comics color production assistant to flat each of the new 10 cards.
  • From here, as he completes them, I will color correct his work, add in backgrounds and a few special effects, and call it a day.
  • Then all that is left is placing the order and praying I get it in on time to have it printed and shipped to my door without any hefty rush charges.

Of course, I wish I could append this article with the big reveal of what all will hit my spinner rack in a few short weeks. But much like my stand-up comedy… I believe in the power of the moment. As such, I’ll let the fine folks of Atlanta get first gaze on my menagerie. Stay tuned, my friends… because next time? I’ll choose you (to see the cool stuff. I was trying to end on a poignant reference. Nailed it?)!

 

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #045: “A Week Later And Nothing Changed.”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #045: “A Week Later And Nothing Changed.”

Folks, last week, I paused any hilarious frivolity in my column to get serious — if, yes, a bit snarky — about guns in our country. Because honestly, the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton permeated pop culture for me. As much as I wanted to rant and rave about the state of the WWE, how mainstream comics have left me behind, or how Nerf’s releasing of a “value” brand was a big deal… all seemed silly in contrast. And while “silly in contrast” is a little of the mojo that makes Pop Culture Squad keep the lights on, sometimes, a Fish has to vent.

This week, I opened a nice fresh blank document from which to dispense the good times once again, and my mind went as blank as the document itself. Sure, I could talk about the Agents of SHIELD season finale. I could expound on my finally binging the entirety of Community. Hell, WWE’s Summerslam is Sunday, and I still could bitch about that with my eyes closed. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #045: “A Week Later And Nothing Changed.””

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #044: “I want to take your guns away.”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #044: “I want to take your guns away.”

I’m done making excuses, personally. I’m done forgiving, allowing exceptions, or offering platitudes to the other side. I have been lucky that no one I know has been affected by gun violence specifically. That even in that assertion I am not fully sure of it — considering all of the recent mass shootings — seals the deal. My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I absolutely want to take all your guns away from you and everyone you know. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #044: “I want to take your guns away.””

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #043: Top Gun Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #043: Top Gun Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Warning: the following article is about a piece of old pop culture that I have only recently absorbed for the first time. As such, much of this article will find you asking yourself “Wait, seriously, he’s never seen Top Gun before now?” and I’m making it clear from the get go:

I literally watched Top Gun for the first time, ever, a few days ago.

And I did it because, I kid you not, a would-be investor in Unshaven Comics outright refused to even be pitched to until I did. To be clear: it’s not that I wasn’t familiar with the movie. But when the movie came out, I was 5 years old. My family didn’t go to the movies, and I was never much into military stuff (Like G.I. Joe and the like). I knew Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer were in it. I know the soundtrack was Loggins heavy. And I recalled once asking Unshaven Kyle about the climax of the movie (when it happened to be on in our apartment at the time) and he told me “eh, the whole movie is just about fancy maneuvers.” Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #043: Top Gun Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #042: Sticks and Stones

So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #042: Sticks and Stones

Not long ago (as in, a little over a week or so), Unshaven Comics tabled at a would-be decently attended Comic Con near the home of our resident writer and sell-o-matic Kyle Gnepper. Due to his proximity to said con, versus both Unshaven Matt and I being several hours away — and because the show wasn’t slated to demand a full court press by our little studio — we as a company agreed to let Kyle fly solo. Color me a shade of confused then, when checking in with Kyle after the first day of said show, that the unflappable Mr. Gnepper called me in a state that could only be described as quite flapped.

“I really wish you guys were here…” he started — with an unmistaken quiver to his normal timbre. At first I figured (nay, hoped) that his desire for backup was due to insane amount of demand. But alas, the now-shook-salesman reported that the show itself was more than a little problematic. Low attendance due to a then-moved metropolitan festival perhaps led to a lack of local fan support. It happens. But Unshaven Comics has suffered through a constrained con every now and again. Kyle continued. “It’s our neighbor. He… uhh. Well…”  Continue reading “So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #042: Sticks and Stones”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #041: YouTube Groove-On

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #041: YouTube Groove-On

YouTube used to be an infrequent destination in the grand scheme of my internetting back-in-the-day. A must-see movie trailer? Sure. A few clips of kittens being kittens? Of course. Having a laugh at the numa numa guy, the Star Wars kid, or that one dude practicing his karate? Who doesn’t love a good chortle! But one thing I’d never considered YouTube to be for… was music. Flash forward to my surf-habits now, and I’m not the same person I once was. My subscription list is at least 3 long scrolls — including comedy channels, beauty gurus who somehow snag my attention, cooking shows, pro wrestling news and scuttlebutt, and of course: musicians.

While YouTube of course houses the professionally produced music videos of my all-time favorites (Barenaked Ladies, Guster, They Might Be Giants, and so on), a cursory glance over my internet history — YouTube only, ya pervs — would showcase a litany of indie crooners and rockers alike. Each one tripped over due to some kink in the algorithms and eventually saved into my subs box like a hoarder with stacks of vinyl. You know, except I don’t honestly pay often to enjoy these artists work; save of course for whatever fraction of a cent they earn when I let their pre-and-post video advertisements run.

This week, I thought I’d feature my top 5 musical artists I found because of YouTube. I’ll showcase the first video that hooked me, as well as a piece of whatever of theirs recently I’m grooving to. Slap some cans on your ear-holes, kiddos. Let’s rock this joint. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #041: YouTube Groove-On”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #040: PRIDE and Prejudice

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #040: PRIDE and Prejudice

So, if you’re like me — always a day late on the pulse of what the kids are in to— no doubt you just stumbled into Taylor Swift’s newest earworm, “You Need To Calm Down”. Like all of her work… its cotton candy made audible. Lyrics, if you don’t pay attention to them, are superficial and trite as an eight grade girl trying to be edgy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the song nauseatingly catchy.

But, as with most things in the post-millennial age, Swift’s single here is more than just audio saccharine for the summer. It’s also a companion music video that takes the lyrics to literal heart, and regurgitates the track as it’s clearly meant to be directed: a pride anthem for the LGBTQ community. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #040: PRIDE and Prejudice”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #039: Eulogy for Gotham

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #039: Eulogy for Gotham

Oh Gotham, we hardly knew ye.

A bit late perhaps for someone to wrap up thoughts on a show that left the zeitgeist on April 25th, but who are we kidding… Gotham left the fans a few episodes into the first season and never looked back.

I myself have slogged through all 100 episodes (exactly! Who knew…) of the life and times of the denizens of one of pop cultures most well-known fictitious cities. Gotham itself was a 5-season experiment in schizophrenia. At times, it was a mostly realistic mafioso crime drama. At other times it was a CW tinged drama of angsty romantic desires. In the best of times, it was self-effacing dramedy with marvelous production designs and a few decent ideas. And in the worst of times, it was a supernaturally-charged proto-action cop drama / espionage / military / comic book nightmare of plot holes, character reimaginings, and dialogue that had to have been written by autocomplete set to mellowdrama. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #039: Eulogy for Gotham”