Marc Alan Fishman: Crunch Time
I know that normally I’m a pretty verbose guy. But you will excuse me if I am a bit shorter than normal this week. And next week. Maybe even the week after that. It’s not that I have laryngitis of the fingers, and it’s not that I don’t want to spend time dissecting Axel Alonso’s recent verbal smackdown of DC. It’s not that I don’t want to postulate on Marvel Now, and how I think it might effect the industry. It just happens to be Unshaven Comics’ crunch time.
For the record? Axel probably went too far to lay out a sick burn on DC, but I like when people play the heel. Marvel NOW won’t see the spikes at the retail stores like the New 52 did, but it will keep more subscribers coming back for more a little at a time. But I digress.
In just about a month from now, we will be attending the Wizard World Chicago comic convention. This is, for all intents and purposes, our home show. We have touted on our weekly podcast, our Facebook page, and just about anywhere and everywhere people are listening to us that we’ll have a new book on the table. So here I sit, with 17 pages to color and letter, and 18 more to edit. Oh and then there’s the cover. And laying out the pages for print. I’m gonna be a busy guy.
We’ve all been there before. Back up against the wall, with no more time to waste on Angry Birds. No more time to check in on Facebook. Hell, there isn’t even time to write this article. That being said, I couldn’t not write to you all… I love your bitter comments far too much to give them up.
So what does crunch time look like for me? I never thought you’d ask. Well, for starters, my amazing wife tends to our son which, above all else, allows me to get anything done in the first place. I click off the television. I slap on some noise canceling headphones. And then it’s podcast time. Nothing gets me mentally ready more than having a solid block of interesting conversation to get my production juices flowing. While I’m unable to write with any noise what-so-ever… when it comes down to doing all the grunt work of taking a comic from roughs to final pages, I need one part of my brain paying attention, and the other in-the-zone.
I love listening to “This American Life” from NPR, Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, and most recently, a few from Too-Fat-To-Fly-No-More, Kevin Smith. I should note Kevin produces about 1300 podcasts a day, so I’m picky. At present moment, in my queue I have a two-part interview with Mark Hamill. Color me interested, fellow ComicMixers.
And when the podcasts run out, there is a final tool in my digital art box that is truly unique to my process. That tool? An audience. I keep Skype open while I work. For just about anyone who knows me, I keep my studio video casting as I work. Why in Rao’s name would I do this? Well, there’s nothing like having another set of curious eyes on your work as you do it. I can say without doubt that having a live audience when I have to finish work keeps me honest. It’s like having a virtual studio night, every night.
Unshaven Comics cut our teeth on the “live studio” atmosphere. Being able to have fresh eyes half a chairs turn away (or prying right there via webcam) ensures the continual feeling that work needs to be done. Left to my own devices, the modern world – with its tireless barrage of aforementioned distractions – shrunk my attention span. I admit it. In the years following high school, when the world stopped watching me work… Everything felt smaller, faster, and more annoying. With a cell phone next to my ear, a DVR box allowing me to tape four shows while I watch three more, compounded with dual monitors and a Netflix account? Well, who needs serenity!
But it’s here, in those times when I need to detach myself from all the extraneous distractions… and just make art? Well, those are the rare and magnificent times where I feel I connected to my fellow comic book creators.
Suffice to say, making comics when you have a day job, a five-month old son, a wife, a mortgage, and a string of needy freelance clients makes for a less-than-stellar work environment. But all of that is put to the side. Now, with Mark Hamill in my ears, and the Samurnauts on my screen… I get to see the collaboration, blood, sweat, and tears of 20 years of friendship come to fruition on my monitor. And in a month? All of that collective DNA will make its way across the table to yearning fans.
And when they come back with a smile for the next book? Well, it makes crunch time the best time.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander Speaks! Well, at least, he types…