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?)!