Author: Marc Alan Fishman

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!

I had consumed nearly every show I was told I’d love on Netflix as I’d contemplated transitioning to Amazon Prime — Orange is the New Black, GLOW, Living With Yourself, Big Mouth, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, The Kominsky Method, Bojack Horseman, F is for Family, Maniac, and Master of None to name a few. And in the case of all of the above (with about 8 or 9 more I decided not to list)… I did in fact love them. Some more than others, but all appropriately dynamic and enjoyable.

With everything seemingly checked off my bucket list for the time being, I was about to sign off, and one last series peaked its head around the corner. I’d been recommended to look into it several times, but something about it seemed bland. Every still shot of the show was set in some rural-ish small town, with an obvious fish-out-of-water placement of Eugene Levy or Catherine O’Hara looking befuddled. I’d told myself it wasn’t worth my time. I hovered over the preview and watched. All the tropes were there: a wealthy family no longer wealthy, Eugene Levy being… Eugene Levy, Chris Elliott being… Chris Elliott, small town vs. big city. Whatever. But, an inadvertent click popped the preview into a pilot, and I took my seat. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #053: Oh Schitt!”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition

It’s about to be that time again. I know it’s likely my article drops after all y’all done gorged yourselves  all day on good foods. But it’s still time to reflect on the year that is almost over, and figure out the bests, the worsts, and what-have-you. As I’ve written on other sites, I like to assemble a list of those things I am most thankful for at the time of writing. A time capsule of positivity, if you will. Except we live in cynical nasty times, so, well, this is what you get. Enjoy it. Hate it. I don’t care anymore!

(Because some people will like to throw stones… this list is purposefully built in random order, and should not be dissected for importance. Jerks.)

1. I’m thankful for Bill Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vinman, Jennifer Williams, Kurt Volker, Tim Morrison, Gordon Sondland, Laura Cooper, David Hale, Fiona Hill, and David Holmes. As of this writing, we’ve no idea if Donald Trump will be impeached or removed from office. And while his blatantly obvious scheming would have me personally hurl the book at his orange mush so fast, it’d break the sound barrier… I am not in the House of Representatives. So, I digress. I am thankful that those above testified openly and honestly about what they saw, heard, and felt about this whole Ukraine situation. Because as it was plainly (and brilliantly) put: “This is America… Here, right matters.”

2. Schitt’s Creek, GLOW, Orange is the New Black, and The Good Place. Somewhere between my terrestrial cable subscription (it’s retro chic, don’t you know) and my Netflix account, I’ve enjoyed an amazing smattering of peak sitcom joy. And those shows listed above all have, at their core, belief in joy. Despite our joyless world, these shows have all touched my heart, and remind me of the good in the world.

3. AEW and NXT. Well, no doubt you knew this one was coming. AEW and NXT have both reminded me what good professional wrestling can be when it wants to. Well-crafted in-ring stories paired with over-the-top-but-still-plausible storylines are literally incomparable to the standard dreck dealt to me by the still-Vince-driven RAW and Smackdown shows. And make note: I will be doing a best-and-worst list of wrestlers / storylines in 2019 before the end of the year. You’ve been warned.

4. My wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. While we’ve been a couple now for nearly 19 years, it’s the last ten that have been the legally sanctioned ones. This year, I went all-out gifting the love of my life into a complete stupor. A custom-made Funko (err, Fishko) Pop figure was paired with a cameo video message from my wife’s true bae, Joey Fatone (of NSYNC fame). How did I know I did well? My wife said plainly “Well now I feel a little bad, cause I can’t compete with those gifts.” Damn straight. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #052: Things I’m Thankful For – 2019 Edition”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?

My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I have a solemn confession: I don’t love Disney. I barely like it, in fact. The House of Mouse has come to own basically over half of all known creative content within my personal wheelhouse — that of the nerdy variety. It seems suspect that my head tells me I should have been coocoo-bananas for the recently launched Disney+ steaming service, yet my heart makes a wet fart noise and I move on.

And trust me, it feels like a rare feat. My social media feeds are nearly choked with baby Yoda (not Yoda)  memes, and genuine gushing goo-goo’ing over all the content on the service. Yet, no matter how many trusted friends stamp The Mandalorian with their recommendation, nor posting about reruns of Darkwing Duck… the excitement bounces off of me much like I assume elation over a new BTS album dropping does to a hipster. And let’s be clear as day kiddos: I ain’t hip. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #051: Why Can’t I Care About Disney+?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #050: All Elite? All Better than WWE

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #050: All Elite? All Better than WWE

A while back — long enough that I no longer feel guilty for writing too much wrestling content — I’d written up some thoughts about the potential that Cody Rhodes’ All Elite Wrestling had to disrupt the professional wrestling landscape.

Well, a few months into their debut, I’m ready to say this much: if they continue to listen and learn? AEW will change that landscape enough Vince McMahon should invest in new trousers.

If I can clarify upfront though: the WWE may suffer in their ratings, ticket sales, and merchandise movement as AEW continues to gradually cement their base in the industry… but it will remain the leader in profit, size, and scope due to it’s sheer volume of talent and foothold in the zeitgeist.

What AEW has done better than any other lesser company in the space (NWA, TNA / Impact Wrestling, New Japan, etc.) is to clearly present itself as an alternative to specifically counter the programming of the McMahon empire — and doing so similar in scope. This means in essence they are attempting to zig wherever Stamford zags. They’re targeting medium sized arenas, and being judicious in their talent’s schedules. The company is being run behind the scenes by working talent, and as such, it more apt to make decisions with said talent in mind. See also: NXT under the WWE umbrella — as run (for the most part) by Paul Leveque (aka the WWE’s Triple H). But put a pin in that. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #050: All Elite? All Better than WWE”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

“So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?”

Arthur Fleck has been through some shit, kiddos. And any of it — had it happened to you — might be enough to drive you insane. But if you already suffered from any number of mental disorders, well, it’d be enough to push you into a realm beyond insanity. Poor schmuck Fleck, for those not in-the-know, is the titular protagonist of Todd Phillips’ Joker. While a large part of me wants to dive deep into a nuanced spoiler-filled review of the film, it’s still fresh off its debut. I’d rather pivot to discuss some specific bits of internet-debate over the film instead. So, let me get this out of the way:

Joker is an amazing film. I would feign perhaps only to compare it to Logan; in so much that it’s a film first, and its roots to pulp and paper serve merely to enhance the final product. Remove a detail or two, and frankly neither film should be name-dropped alongside any other movie tepidly denoted as a comic book movie — which itself is becoming shorthand for flicks that are somehow less than, in spite of them largely being truly awesome entertainment. But, as usual for me, I digress. Joker was jaw-dropping. I suggest you catch it. Cool? Cool. Moving on. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #049: “Am I a Joke(r) to you?””

“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.””