Marc Alan Fishman: Good Will Fishman
This past week I was honored to be invited back to my alma mater, the Herron School of Art, to give a lecture on my journey “From Starving Artist to Comic Book Publisher.” I spoke for about 45 minutes and afterwards took a few questions, and then sold a few dozen books. All in all, it was a humbling experience, and perhaps the turning of a page in my book of life.
Artistically speaking, my prowess has always been largely introspective. In high school, as much as everyone was self-absorbed, I excelled at it. I took the angst and strife of not getting a date and watching my best friends dry-hump in the hallways and made haute art out of it. Come to think of it, I could have really amped my game up if I’d done a piece commemorating the near-daily visual of dry-humping.
Alas, I chose self-portraiture as my joie de vivre. The idea being that my life – that of a typical, mid-western, suburban, Jewish in name and Bar Mitzvah boy only – could be regurgitated lovingly on board and canvas as such to eventually be called fine art.
Moving on to college, as much as I continued to have aspirations of becoming a comic-book maker, the story of my life continued to be what I presented. In a manner of speaking, my art started to resemble an auto-mockumentary, turning my existence into high entertainment based solely on the fact that I was in fact that awesome. People got a kick out of it, and so did I. It was only after I graduated when the trough of life-events grew emptier, that I finally had the wherewithal to look beyond my very Jewish nose.
Here of course is where you know the-rest-of-the-story. Unshaven Comics is commissioned to make a book by a Chicago publisher. We do it. We learn from it. We decide to break out on our own. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Here’s the thing. In the time between when I formed the company to the time I commemorated it in a lecture in front of a packed auditorium, I got married, bought a house, and became a father. If ever there was a time for me to return to fine art, this would be it, no? Now, I have the glorious content my life was devoid of only years prior! But alas, dear reader… it is not.
Perhaps it’s the wisdom of the years passed that has granted me the maturity enough to know that my legacy will be far more than a worthless collection of portraiture denoted a life lived as many others before and after will lead. Instead, I realize my legacy is very much within the pages and panels of Unshaven’s pure fiction. It’s in my offspring. It’ll be in the heads of those I’ve touched in my time on this mortal coil. John’s piece this past week dealt beautifully with the complex emotions of life and death. I’d be remiss to that much of the reason I chose the arts was to deal with my own near-paralyzing fear of death.
So, it was there in the semi-darkened Basile Auditorium of Eskenazi Hall that I reached a catharsis. So much of my life story has been celebrated – in jest and in reality – such that here, some 10 years after I hung up my woodcut tools for a dayjob, I have in fact lived a third of my life without rampant documentation. I think it was the philosopher Bueller who said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Truer words may never have been spoken, Ferris.
It’s good to know in the next chapter of my harrowing tale, the best is truly yet to come. With my brothers-from-other-mothers, I will be able to continue to tour our country and make new friends and fans. With my ComicMix cohorts, I will glean sage advice in both publishing, and barbeque. With my son and wife, I will find joy in parts of my life relived through new eyes. And with you kiddos? I’ll continue to pretend I’m that damned awesome.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
MONDAY: Mindy Newell