I know I don’t write often much these days; the pandemic has a way of making me feel like time is both infinite and unending. Is that vague enough an excuse? Unlikely. But much like the fists flying in faces throughout Cobra Kai, the snake has awaken my desire to act once again here on Pop Culture Squad. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #069: Cobra Kai Has No Mercy… For My Love”
Unshaven Comics — the studio that houses myself and my brothers-from-other-mothers — participated in our final conventions for 2018. While other comic cons are going to be running through the end of the year… for us, the year is over. And what an interesting experience we as a company had in our final pair of shows. It seemed we forgot how calendars operate, and wound up double-booking ourselves. The newly minted Ace Universe show in Chicago welcomed us (and our money) the very same weekend we’d committed (as always) to the Kokomo Comic Con, in Kokomo, Indiana. Luckily for us, there are 3 Unshaven Lads, and Kokomo was only a one-day shindig — allowing us to divide and conquer. With that being said… there is a lot to unpack regarding the size, scope, and relative success my motley crew saw across the pair of shows.
Ace Universe is a hot new contender in the pop culture convention space. As brought to the geek kingdom by way of the Shamus empire — formerly of Wizard World fame. Ace’s calling card is top tier talent specifically in the autograph / photo-op space. Specific to the Ace Universe Chicago show we tabled at? Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Karen Gillan, Zazie Beetz, Matt Smith, and a litany of WWE Stars all took center stage. The show itself was held at Chicago’s Navy Pier — which by most fans we spoke to, was not the easiest or accommodating commute to take. The convention hall was a single large open room, with the autograph/photo-op area dead center, artists and vendors around its periphery, with a “main stage” set in the tail-end of the space.
As an artist tabling at the show, we found almost immediately that our success would be wholly achieved through the grind; as most of the attendees came strictly to collect their photos and signatures. These “celebrity experiences” were costly endeavors — with VIP packages starting in the mid $200 range. Keeping that in mind? It became apparent that we lowly vendors and artists were there strictly to act as window dressing and distractions for the already wallet-light fans milling about. Friday itself was the most-rough day of the weekend, with the after-work crowds all dawdling in with little desire to buy. Saturday and Sunday saw larger and more amicable fans pursuing the aisles (all 4 of them) with only slightly more desire to hear about new and wonderful independent publications (such as “The Samurnauts” or “Toolbox”). Given a relatively tame tabling fee, Unshaven Comics left Navy Pier on Sunday night a little above break-even; once the $30 per-car per-day parking snapped the top off our coffers.
In contrast, the Kokomo Comic Con was a single day, single community affair in the wonderfully proud 13th largest city in Indiana. Here in its 9th year, Kokomo Con is a show Unshaven makes the trek out for regardless of specific sales goals. As denoted this year even more than the last, with little new to showcase at our table, most of my interactions throughout the day really were with well-wishers who already owned all that I came to promote. Anchored by stalwart Indiana-based comic bookers like guest-of-honor Stuart Sayger, always amicable Gavin Smith, and a handful of other fantastic independent artists and vendors… the show seats itself in the wide-eyed, big-smiled hearts of those who know what comic conventions of yesteryear looked like. With costume contests, light-hearted announcements over the PA, and a little over 1000 fans from around the city and beyond milling about, it was as far removed from Ace as one might get. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #014: Con-Job!”
Because when you want to create a great debate and piss off a multitude of hyper-focused fanbases? You go for the jugular, kiddos!
As I’ve been enjoying the latest season of “The Venture Brothers”, I denoted a few pals in my feeds proclaiming the superiority of the Venture clan to what I assume is its closest animated kin, “Rick and Morty”. And where I’d anticipated a litany of back-and-forth from our social circles coming to the defense of Mr. (Doctor…?) Sanchez, I was met only by Venture-centric lads and lasses singing continuous praise only for their cartoon of choice.
Now, let me cut myself off before I get too knee-deep in rage-quit commenters below; I actually love both shows. And were someone to put some form of mega weapon to my forehead and force me to choose one over the other? I’d let them liquify my innards rather than be forced to make a choice. Or, more likely, I’d blurt out “The Good Place is better than both of those shows!” before the gentle zzzzzap! would turn me into fish-paste.
The fact is, the shows are only comparable on the surface alone; because I view them at their cores to be wholly separate entities when it comes to their end-game. Simply put? Rick and Morty is nihilism made blue-haired and drunk. The Venture Brothers is eternal optimism packaged in perfectly pitched pastiche. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #013: Venture Brothers vs. Rick and Morty”
On Saturday, October 6th, some brave (or insomniac) comic book creators across the nation will take part in a little fun activity called “24-Hour Comics Day”. Started in part as a challenge, and furthered by the indie industry to include charitable drives and other sundry sub-events… 24-Hour Comics Day sets forth the task to complete a 24 page comic in 24 hours, soup to nuts. This year? I’m going to take part in the challenge — albeit with some modifications to suit my personal needs.
First off? My goal isn’t to complete a 24 page book. I don’t publish books that short (the economics of that can be saved for a later article, mmm k?). Secondly? I know I’m not that fast an artist or writer. At all. So, instead my goal is thus:
To draw and be immersed in my latest comic book for 24 hours straight with a desire to complete as much of it as I possibly can.
I’ll be sitting in at my local comic book shoppe, The Zone, of Homewood, IL. I’ll do my darndest to capture my work — whether I stream the whole 24 hour experiment, or just make a big-ole-honkin’ article here on Pop Culture Squad and update it on the hour. And per this article, well, I’ll be pre-gaming just a wee bit to set myself up for success.
For those more familiar with my creative process? Feel free to stop here. Give me a like on social media, and be on your way. For the rest of you wanting a bit of insider baseball and see how the comic sausage is actually made? Strap in. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #012: 24 Hour Comic Book Day… the Pre-Production”
Seems we’re getting sentimental this week, kiddos. As I read our illustrious HBIC’s column this week, I couldn’t help but join in the fun. No, seriously. She’s holding me at gunpoint. Help! Ahem. I mean… that is to say… What comic have I had in my collection the longest? Much as I’d love to tell you it was the aforementioned X-Men Adventures book that ignited my original passion for pulp. Or perhaps the sentimental favorite pair of Malibu books that I still maintain are more than mere homage. But no. Most of my original set of comics were lost to a flood long ago. But not my graphic novels.
The comic — nay, the graphic novel— that has remained in my possession the longest is Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
And it’s time for a true confession. Well, a pair of them, if I must. First? I didn’t buy my copy. I stole it. That is to say, I borrowed it from the Hebrew School library, and refrained from ever returning it. No late fees or fines ever were sent home. So, there it stayed in my desk drawer for the better part of two and a half decades. And my second confession? It’s been so long since I’ve read it, I honestly remember nothing about the book.
Despite my larceny and lame memory, there are a multitude of reasons it remains one of my most cherished tomes. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #011: The Comic I’ve Had the Longest”
The first comic book I ever bought was in fourth grade. It was an X-Men Adventures comic cribbed from the animated series, which itself cribbed heavily from a combination of Len Wein and Chris Claremont stories, published almost 2 decades prior. I bought it because I loved the “X-Men” animated adventures on Fox Kids, and figured the comic would further flesh out what I’d seen in the episode. It didn’t. But I still loved it none-the-less. After that purchase, I dove head-first into all manners of X-books. But I didn’t know the Brood from Bushmaster and called it quits nearly as quickly as I’d began my new hobby. It would take more than a few years after that to really be interested in comic books again.
My newly-minted best friend, Matt Wright, bicycled to my house in the freezing Chicago winter to deliver a hastily wrapped box with my birthday present tucked inside. A pair of #1 issues of my new found love of Malibu Comics’ Ultraforce and The Strangers — loved, again, because of my viewing of the soon-then-to-be-canceled animated series.
And from the moment I cracked open those books — sitting somewhere between homage and pastiche — I was adamant that I wanted to be in comics too.
With that in mind, after 9 weeks of helpful hints, tricks, tips, and too-green-to-be-called-sage advice? My last lesson is the only one that I can give you with trepidation:
Why do I make comic books? Because I have to.
Personal history aside, the fact of the matter is at my very core, I’m a communicator. Be it in print, in pictures, in song, or in actions… I strive constantly to be a vehicle of entertainment. Over the course of my life — however short or long you personally perceive 36 years on said planet to be — I have been a columnist, an artist, a singer, a stand-up comedian, a marketer, and a generally OK human being. The through-line to literally all of those mediums? That I’ve been entertaining in each; some funny, some heartfelt, some serious, and all existing likely somewhere in-between.
Of all those medium, the one I am proudest of? One guess.
And so, we soldier on! In this my third installment of my ten-part series on playing the game of Independent Publishing, I turn away from the negative to embrace the positive. Where part one saw me bitterly biting folks over my trust issues, and part two was a wicked warning on the evils of exposure… this week, I’m opening up a topic that truly has no seedy underbelly! Wait, don’t quote me on that. This week, I implore you to consider this:
Networking is necessary.
No one is an island unto themselves if they want to be a success. Crack open nearly any comic worth its salt, and you’ll see colorists, letterers, editors, and others throwing in to the mix. When you’re starting out as a creator, shake hands with everyone you can. Because the next hand you shake may wind up saving your book in the eleventh hour. But let me not get ahead of myself… We should slow this down some. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, man #003: Indie Comic Book Publishing 101 Part 3”