MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Marc Alan Fishman

Marc Alan Fishman is a graphic designer, digital artist, writer, and most importantly a native born Chicagoan. When he's not making websites, drawing and writing for his indie company Unshaven Comics, or rooting for the Bears... he's a dedicated husband and father. When you're not enjoying his column here on ComicMix, feel free to catch his comic book reviews weekly at MichaelDavisWorld, and check out his books and cartoons at Unshaven Comics.

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8 Responses

  1. JosephW says:

    I’m never ceased to be amused at people who want to trash certain artists who want to be the actual developers of the story they draw even as the results turn out to be rather laughable yet will turn around and offer little but praise for other artist-turned-writers whose own work is no less laughable or even “dumb.” I offer up, as prime examples, Erik Larsen and Jack Kirby.

    Now, admittedly, I find Larsen’s artwork to be sheer torture to look at (it’s almost as though he has just enough technical skill to trace Jack Kirby’s work and then reformat it to serve the needs of his panels; other Kirby-influenced artists learned how to develop their own styles, but I digress) but his sense of “story-telling” has never been subtle when HE is in charge of “writing” the story (and this dates back to his first “solo” works at Marvel in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents–I’m not going to judge his “independent” work as I’ve, mercifully, never had the opportunity to read any of it). Larsen has always made clear his first focus is on action and story planning and structure be damned.

    But, it’s with Kirby, that the praise is all-too-often undeserved. I don’t deny the man had some incredible ideas when he left Marvel for DC circa 1970 but the fact remains that not one of his stories was actually readable. The incomprehensibility of his writing was even more apparent when he was lured back to Marvel as an “artist who writes his own stories.” If you want to tell me that any of his stories (especially the “please drive hot pokers through my brain for having attempted to read Madbomb” issues of Captain America) were inherently any better than Tony Daniels’ work, then I suggest you try re-reading those “solo” Kirby works and IGNORE the Kirby name and keep that bucket handy for the inevitable voiding your stomach will provide. (We won’t even get into the sheer horrors of that dreck that Kirby produced for Pacific Comics.) Again. Kirby IS a master of comic art but he needed someone who could provide a script that could convey what Kirby was trying to say but simply did not have the linguistic ability to lay down on the paper (of course, neither DC nor Marvel–after luring him back–was willing to put any reins on Kirby preferring to treat him as a king whose word could not be questioned).

    As to Miller’s little screed, well, perhaps if he hadn’t spent the better part of a decade promising a masterwork in which Batman would take down Osama bin Laden singlehandedly* and then being told by DC he couldn’t use Batman (truly unexpected as Miller’s *official* Batman book was running way behind schedule) so he had to go back and alter the Bat and Cat images he’d already drawn. But then, Miller had the singularly unfortunate timing of scheduling the book’s release to come AFTER the real-life Navy SEALS caught and killed bin Laden before the “revenge fantasy” could make it to retail. (Of course, Miller didn’t help his case with such a threadbare story–this was the same guy who gave us Dark Knight Returns and a masterful run on Daredevil? Then again, I suppose that revenge fantasies are rarely anything more than threadbare by their very nature.)

    *I would note that his “inspiration”–the WWII-era material routinely showing US superheroes punching out Hitler and Tojo, albeit only on the covers to the best of my knowledge–was from an era when it seemed that EVERYONE had some connection to a serviceman who was actually trying to catch Hitler and Tojo and the country had been placed on a type of alert where EVERYONE, including multi-millionaires, was expected to share in the sacrifice; in the 21st century, however, many of the top folks shilling for the wars in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq, hadn’t actually served in a combat situation nor did any of them seem to have any family members serving on the front lines and, of course, there was no talk of multi-millionaires having their taxes raised to the 90% level to help finance the war effort

    • Well put Joseph. I have not read Kirby’s work. I probably will not, unless it’s handed to me. I guess all in all, my point here is how very hard it is to don both artist’s pen and writer’s quill. There are those out there who I think handle it splendidly… but for the most part? I think comic books, like movies, benefit most from positive collaboration, and solid editing to bring all parts together.

      • mike weber says:

        Way Back When when Kirby created the New Newsboy Legion for DC – which included one guy who ALWAYS wore wetsuit, swim mask and flippers, i said that he had great ideas … but that he needed SOMEONE to sit on his head.

  2. Jess Willey says:

    So artists can’t be writers? Evidence to the contrary Exhibit B) Will Eisner Exhibit B) Sergio Aragones Exhibit C) Walter Simonson Exhibit D) Masashi Tanaka.

  3. Mindy Newell says:

    I dunno, Marc, I’ve so often wished that I could draw/pencil/color my own stuff that every penny in every fountain in this country has my name on it.

    The beauty–and, yes, it can be a disaster, too–of doing E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G is not only financial. It’s that it’s M-Y story, M-Y vision. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something and the pictures in my head look NOTHING like what ends up on the page. Sometimes it’s terribly embarrassing–as in the Selina (the-artist-just-traced-Miller’s-work-from-BATMAN-YEAR-1-and-completely-ignored-or-didn’t-get-and-was-too-lazy-to-call-me-for-clarification) Kyle pages in CATWOMAN, sometimes it’s cringe-inducing (as in the BLACK WIDOW story I did)…

    And, then, just sometimes, it’s so goddamn beautiful and wonderful you just want to get down on your knees and thank God you can’t draw (as in the AMETHYST mini-series or the LOIS LANE miniseries).

    As for Frank…see my column tomorrow. And like I told Mike and Martha, he’s just another rich guy who’s worried he’ll end up paying more taxes. I hear the same shit all day long from most of the doctors I work with–and they’re not even in the 1%!

    • Well Mindy, there’s IS that. Like I said in my article… I do hold onto the reigns of both art and writing for my part of Unshaven Comic’s next book. I come from an artistic background that’s always told me to beat to the sound of your own drum, but never profess you’re Neil Peart.

      Sometimes the art/writing as done by one person is glorious. Daniel Clowes, Mike Alred, Mike Mignola have all done it sublimely. I tend to believe that ultimately having another set of eyes on a project turns out a better final product. Not EVERY time, but more often then not.

      As for Frank? He’s cranky for no more reason than wanting to matter again.

  4. Sean D. Martin says:

    “And more than just the reigns [sic] to the art, mind you. ”

    He was given kingship of the art?