Author: Marc Alan Fishman

So Long and Thank For The Fish, Man 91: He’s Better Than Me, and I Know It

So Long and Thank For The Fish, Man 91: He’s Better Than Me, and I Know It

The last time I wrote about the squared circle, I was lamenting the plight of my then favorite grappler, one CM Punk. And in my screed, I laid bare why he no longer stood atop my list of favorites. Since then, I’ve continued to watch All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and keep loose tabs on the WWE. Punk defected back to the company that burnt him out — but now being run by Paul “HHH” Levesque instead of Vince “Likely Sexual Abuser” McMahon. In a way, I’m happy for Punk. In another, I remain disappointed. He’s already injured himself since rejoining the roster, and is amidst an interesting-if-frustrating feud with Drew McIntyre. Good for him, I guess. I’m not invested, but happy everyone must be making money.

So, with my favorite faux-fighter no longer filling his spot, who has taken it? Well, it’s not Bryan Danielson. He’s still amazing in the ring, and passionate on the mic. He also announced not too long ago he’s in the middle of his final full-time run in the ring. As such, he remains a favorite, but not the favorite. It’s also not Hangman Adam Page, who is rising in my personal ranks like a rocket. His recent comeback with a mean streak has been fun to watch. The anger and ire offer him an edge that is vastly superior to his previous moniker as The Millennial Cowboy. As good as Page has been, even if he’s able to finish his beef with current AEW Champion Swerve Strickland, he would only occupy my silver spot.

The gold belongs solely to Maxwell Jacob Friedman.

I suppose I should apologize to Mr. Friedman that it took 2 full paragraphs of mewling about others before declaring my admiration. In a perfect world, he’ll one day read this article, and I could pray that I get a “you’re right, idiot, you should have mentioned me earlier. And you’re writing sucks too” tweet about it. Nevertheless, let the ass kissing begin! Continue reading “So Long and Thank For The Fish, Man 91: He’s Better Than Me, and I Know It”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #090: Vegas Vacation (Part 3)

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #090: Vegas Vacation (Part 3)

Let’s just get this over with:

If you’re just now getting here… you might want to read part one, and part deux

This is the final installment of our Vegas saga. For now.

As it stands… we have not signed a single licensing deal for The Samurnauts, yet. So, if you were actually thinking we were being that coy? Nah. Keep in mind that it’s absolutely beyond rare that a little side hustle no-name business waltzes on to an expo floor for the very first time, and instantly becomes the belle of the ball. We weren’t counting on that, and it didn’t happen. No harm, no foul.

What I can say though… Unshaven Comics has a few things we are actively pursuing and have had positive movement in the last few weeks. Forgive me if I don’t say more. One, because I’m probably a little stupid and superstitious — and I genuinely believe even an ounce of unearned excitement will make the universe pull the rug out from under us. And two, we genuinely don’t know what will happen, good or bad. 

So, let’s head backwards in time to where we actually left things off.

The Licensing Expo was now over. Unshaven Sales-o-matic Kyle Gnepper returned to the Cheesiest State™ to be husband and father. Unshaven Matt and myself hopped into the ole’ minivan and took off to Traverse City, Michigan, for the Cherry Capital Comic Con. So, any follow-up to be done was going to wait until the Monday after the show. That was also a smart move as we figure most folks attending stayed in Vegas through Friday at least, to get in some more entertainment. No need to have our email awaiting them several dozen down in their inbox, right?

Once officially home-home — wife smooched, kids hugged-and-high-fived, and suitcase unpacked — I powered on my PC to fulfill my duties as the Unshaven Business Beard. I pulled out the heavy pile of business cards taken in from Las Vegas, and opened up my Google Sheet of notes. Here I reorganized every contact into piles: unlikely to work with us, likely want our money, mild interest, and heavy interest (#StartHereDummy). Once organized, I created a copy/pastable scripted email. In short, I reintroduced myself and Unshaven Comics. I left specific room to leave some detailed notes so this wasn’t some wholly robotic schpiel. And most importantly, I included a call to action. I should note: I am a marketer by day. So, doing this kind of stuff is very much how I personally pay the bills. In total, I sent out 53 emails, and hoped I’d get a dozen back.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #090: Vegas Vacation (Part 3)”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #089: Vegas Vacation (Part 2)

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #089: Vegas Vacation (Part 2)

Welcome back to Sin City, kiddos! (and if you missed last week… best give it a read so this makes sense)

Our flight into Vegas was smooth. Our check-in for our rental SUV was not only smooth… we got a free upgrade! We took the keys to our Kia Carnival, and set off for adventure — by way of rolling the dice on Unshaven Comics. 

Our first stop was at the home of family friends — who graciously offered to accept a few shipments of bric-a-brac for our booth. With said crap loaded into our spacious vehicle, we made our second official stop: In-N-Out Burger. As was demanded of us by half a dozen well-wishers, we stopped for the quintessential west coast fast food. Go ahead and cry foul now though. Matt, Kyle, and I all got standard burgers, fries, and pop. No animal style. No protein style. No 3x3s. The joke is on all y’all though: we all loved it anyways. Simple, fresh, and decently priced. Call it a win, and let’s keep driving.

With the Licensing Expo taking place the next day, our plan called for us to set up the booth. As per our usual… we parked incorrectly the first time. Our dumbass selves parked at the main Mandalay Bay parking lot ($25) and meandered throughout the restaurants before finding the convention center. We snagged our passes, and briefly walked the showfloor to locate our diminutive space. After clarifying that the convention center itself boasted its own parking lot, but would not let us sneak from one lot to the other without paying… we made the executive decision to hoof our cart of crap through the common areas of the resort anyways. Hey! $25 is $25!

Landed. Got car. Got booth stuff. Ate. Setup booth. All that was left now was to get to our room and consider the evening’s plan. I could waste an entire chapter of this saga discussing how we wound up not having the room we paid for, but will save us all the anxiety of reliving it. We were supposed to stay at the Mandalay-Bay-adjacent Luxor, but due to things happening, we wound up staying at The Orleans.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #089: Vegas Vacation (Part 2)”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #088: Vegas Vacation (Part 1)

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #088: Vegas Vacation (Part 1)

When I last left everyone, I’d made mention of exploring Unshaven Comics’ recent respite to Sin City. So I guess I owe no one a Coke. Whew. That’s right, two articles in two weeks. Maybe I’m on to something? We’ll see.

Before I dive deep into our trip, let me take you back — all the way back — to the secret origins of Unshaven Comics. When we debuted at Wizard World Chicago in 2008, the shared goal of the table was simple: Find an all-important Comic Book Editor™ who would be so enamored with our creative non-fiction book “The March: Crossing Bridges in America” that they’d whisk us off to Comic Book Land™ with three full time jobs waiting for us to just make comics for the rest of our lives.

No, I’m not even kidding. We were in our mid-twenties and absolutely that delusional and devoid of any actual industry knowledge. 

The upside to this goal? It made Mike Gold laugh so hard he hasn’t stopped being our friend since his late wife — the amazing Linda Gold — dragged him over to our table to hear about “The March”. Silver linings and all that jazz.

After we three Unshaven Lads learned how the comic book sausage was actually made, our goals shifted appropriately. If the industry wasn’t going to hand us all jobs, then we’d play the long game instead. We recognized that the journey was likely only ever to be our reward, and as such, we declared to no one the new goal: exist. And maybe, if we were ever lucky? Our flagship title The Samurnauts might one day become more than a comic series.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #088: Vegas Vacation (Part 1)”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #087: When Did We Become Old Men?

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #087: When Did We Become Old Men?

Welcome back to my infrequently populated (yes, I know, I’m sorry!) corner of the interwebs wherein I wax poetic about all things geeky in my life. That tends to revolve around a continuously dwindling amount of things: pro-wrestling, streaming mostly (now) older shows, and my not-so-secret-second-life as a comic book author/artist/entrepreneur. PCS’s resident curmudgeon Mike Gold simplified me down to “multi-hyphenate”, and now I’m a little mad because I’ll be damned if it doesn’t fit perfectly. Grumble grumble. I forever digress.

I’ve come out from hiding, halfway through the year, to go through a few big bullet points of Unshaven Comics’ 2024 thus far. When I last wrote in, I condensed our 2023 into a fine little recap. Since that write up, we’ve ventured to Indianapolis for PopCon Indy, Traverse City, MI for Cherry Capital Con, and now most recently Charlotte, NC for Heroes Con. We also went to Las Vegas — yes, for comic book related frivolity — but I’ll get to that in another column. If you don’t see that column in the next two weeks? I owe you a coke.  Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #087: When Did We Become Old Men?”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #086: A Year of Unshaven Cons

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #086: A Year of Unshaven Cons

On the weekend of October 28-30th, 2023, Unshaven Comics rounded out its year in convention exhibition at the Winnipeg Comic Con. For those of you following the ebbs and flows of my little studio, I wanted to take time out here in my little corner of the internet to dish on all things Unshaven in 2023. From our wins, losses, pure data, to our anecdotal musings about those wins-losses-and-data. Sound good? Well, I don’t care, I’m writing this as much for me as I am for you. So… strap in, Sally.

Before we dive deeper into the year for us overall, let’s talk about why Winnipeg. At the tail end of the pandemic, with a house of trade paperbacks and serious cabin fever… Unshaven Comics crossed the border in 2021 to go to the Fan Expo Canada comic convention in Toronto. It was one of the best shows we’d ever done — even with a limited sale of fan tickets. So much fun was had, we returned the following year (sadly only with Kyle and myself going, with Unshaven Matt Wright stuck at work). With a “full force” fanbase? It remained an amazing show for my little company. Knowing that we’d not have anything new in store for the following year, I asked a rhetorical question: was it Toronto that loved us… or was it Canada being just that awesome. We opened up Google Maps and found the only other drivable city for us in Tim Horton’s home country to attempt to answer that question.

Winnipeg, Manitoba. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #086: A Year of Unshaven Cons”

So Long, and Thanks for the Fish, Man #084: Punk You!

So Long, and Thanks for the Fish, Man #084: Punk You!

Run a search of my musings here at Pop Culture Squad — and I admit there’s not as many as there should be — and one name will pop up more than anyone else. Phil Brooks, AKA CM Punk. If you’re new to this site, or new to me? He’s a professional wrestler. My favorite professional wrestler. Well, perhaps I admit here now, dejected, my former favorite professional wrestler. Let’s not dilly dally around the obvious.

Of course, I should give the requisite mansplanation of Punk 101 here, to spare you from beleaguered googling. Here’s the skinny, as svelte as I can make it:

CM Punk was an “indie darling” garnering small-but-growing fame by way of very small wrestling promotions across the country from 1999-2005. Eventually, the indie scene faded and Punk made way to Stamford to be with the biggest pro wrestling, er, sports entertainment company there was (and is): WWE. Punk worked in the WWE until 2014. He won the World Heavyweight title in one of the most memorable storylines in modern pro wrestling history — all stemming from his infamous Pipe Bomb promo. And after getting burnt out on the road, and due largely to the way WWE was run… Punk quit cold turkey.

Over the next seven years Punk dabbled in everything his heart desired. He wrote comic books. He made a horror movie. He got his clock cleaned in UFC. Twice. And he landed a little role on Steven Amell’s Heels on Starz.

And then? Phil unretired. I was over-the-moon. I wrote about it at great length. Here, read about it if you want.

To sum that article up though? I’ve loved Punk since the Pipe Bomb promo. He broke rules I’d never seen broken. He wasn’t a roided-up mass monster like most of the WWE roster. He was different in a literal sea of sameness. And he could be a good guy without being the pandering robot John Cena chose to be. No offense to John, but c’mon… Punk never felt the need to have “the orange shirt era”. But I digress.  Continue reading “So Long, and Thanks for the Fish, Man #084: Punk You!”

Another Smart Marc Wrestling Podcast Episode# 002: WrestleMania 39 Nights 1 and 2

Another Smart Marc Wrestling Podcast Episode# 002: WrestleMania 39 Nights 1 and 2

Hey wrestling fans! WrestleMania 39 is in the books. That means it must be time for another episode of the Another Smart Marc Wrestling Podcast.

Join Marc Alan Fishman and his special guest Jeremy Lieb for snarky fun around the biggest night in wrestling!

Marc and Jeremy go way way back. Mainly because they’re cousins! Join these two smart marks as they break down all 207 matches and segments across the WWE’s grandest stage of them all. What rocked? What sucked (besides Omos)? It’s all pomps and no circumstance for the second episode of Pop Culture Squad’s “Another Smart Marc” Wrestling Podcast!

 

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #083: Creative Devolution

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #083: Creative Devolution

In a few short weeks, Unshaven Comics kicks off our 2023 convention season with a trip… home. After applying and failing to gain admittance to C2E2’s Artist Alley, our FOMO kicked in, and we grossly overpaid for a small press booth. For those coming out to the show who’d like to rub it in? We’ll be at SP12 — in the small press area between Artist Alley and the autograph lanes. 

Here’s the funny part — to me at least. I was the one who felt the biggest pangs of pre-regret when the small press table contract was sent to us. I was the one who all but told my Unshaven mates “we’re doing this show even if we break even”. This knowing we’re still a few months away from a new Samurnauts issue being ready. This knowing all we have new is the awesome Blooms: Heist on the Magical Girl Vault that Kyle completed last year with Stephanie Mided. 

Nerf gun to our collective heads? Unshaven feels like this show won’t feel like some amazing homecoming. Especially because Blooms did debut in Chicago… Last year. At the massively underwhelming Fan Expo Chicago (the mutated carcass of the original Chicago Comic Con, aka Wizard World Chicago). We moved 43 copies at that show, and honestly, that was pretty good all things considered. So, we waltz into C2E2 praying that the fans walking in did not attend Fan Expo last year — or if they did, they somehow missed us.

So, knowing that we’d need to hit decent-to-awesome revenue numbers at the show to make back our booth cost, enter desperation! 

With limited time and maximum flop sweat, I looked to my personal cash cow — PokeMashups — to hopefully give us a little buzz.. Since I started offering these silly things, I’ve personally seen continuous exponential growth. 

Before I talk about our hail Mary for success…A bit of backstory for the uninitiated. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #083: Creative Devolution”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #082: At Home With House.

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #082: At Home With House.

Is there a German word for when you finish a rather “heavy” show via streaming, where you just need to consume something lighter or familiar? Maybe it’s gutentelestreamafunk or something. Well. That was me not too long ago. After making my way through a rewatch of Better Call Saul from the very beginning, the most recent season (now I fear last) of Doom Patrol, and catching up on Barry? My mind was mush. It didn’t want new in spite of my long list (and yes, I have a google doc of series to catch). My noodle craved comfort food. And as strange as it would be for anyone to say it? House is like a plate of chicken tendies and fries for my cerebellum.

I wasn’t a House fan when the series began in (goes to look it up…) 2004 (so, you know, almost 20 years ago. Yikes.). It was an accidental taping of the show that kickstarted me on the series in the first place. You see, no cap kiddos, I had set out to tape the upcoming WWE Smackdown program on our local Fox affiliate. But my DVR was an idiot — and opted to tape the 4th season premiere of House instead. When I’d denoted then that I wouldn’t get to enjoy a 15 minute match between the demon Kane against Montel Vontavious Porter that would end in a disappointing disqualification… I decided to employ a bit of advice gleaned from the twitter feed of comic book stalwart Erik Larsen:

Every comic book is a jumping on point if it’s good enough.

So too, might one apply that ethos to a television show, right?

I knew nothing of House save only that it starred a British man doing his best American snarky accent, playing a mean version of Sherlock Holmes, but as a doctor. Also, I knew my wife liked the show, and she certainly has good taste. She married me! But I digress.

The fourth season of House was the one (for those who don’t remember September 28th, 2007 as well as I do) where Dr. House has lost his previous team of diagnosticians (two quit, one was fired out of spite),  and decides to lean into the then-still-fresh notion of reality TV to hire himself a new team to replace them. Now, for those waiting to call me out? The fourth season premiere of House doesn’t actually “feature” the cavalcade of cohorts House whittles down into the main cast until literally the last shot of the episode. The rest of the episode itself is fairly typical for the show’s main structure — a patient is introduced in the cold open, and throughout the course of 40ish minutes of content, House barrages said patient in test after test while weird and strange symptoms further complicate the issue. Right before all hope is lost, someone mutters something, the music abruptly shifts, and Gregory House has solved the seemingly unsolvable case. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #082: At Home With House.”