Tagged: Jimmy McGill

Marc Alan Fishman: No Half-Measures Here, Folks!

Better Call Saul

As everyone hopefully saw last week, my wife and I welcomed our new son into the world. Joining his bigger brother Bennett Reed now comes Colton Mikel Fishman. I couldn’t be any more proud of my wife, nor happier for our li’l family. Kathy and I grew up as only children, so with a pair of boys under our roof we’re sailing in uncharted waters. Suffice to say we’re nervous, elated, and perhaps a bit sleep deprived even thinking about it. But we venture forward.

And before I do much the same here in my column, I’d be an ass if I didn’t stop any further blathering before I thank you the readers of ComicMix, as well as my editor and co-columnists for all the well wishes since I missed my deadline last week. Ten points if you were just about to ask when I’d declare: But I digress.

This week, I’m in a Better Call Saul kind of mood. The show is one of the best on television today. Breaking Bad was revolutionary in its murky trek into the abyss of a man’s soul. Saul in contrast is more or less a stumble and fall down the stairs towards nothing more than a manager’s pin at the Omaha Cinnabon. In the season one finale our titular esquire retorted to himself (and I guess to a lesser degree, Mike Ermantraut) that his life would no longer feature half-measures. I find myself at much the same conclusion.

Now Saul – who was still Slippin’ Jimmy McGill of Cicero, Illinois – was in effect declaring to the universe he would no longer look an opportunity in the face and retreat. If the universe dropped a sack of cash in his lap? He wouldn’t look for the owner of it. He’d spend it, and deny it to his grave should it ever be contested. Now I’ve no intention on thievery, or anything uncouth. I, instead, will take to heart the deeper meaning of Mr. McGill’s words. Here, with an infant son, and a toddling young buck at my side, I strive to do more with my life with the lesser free time I’m allowed.

You see, as I’ve detailed often, making comics independently is a beast to bear when you have a full time job and family to take care of. And with a wife who will now be allowed to take two months off of work unpaid, suddenly my inclination to take every freelance gig waving past my face rises exponentially. And what stares at me every night on my cloud-based to-do list from hell, The Samurnauts looms with a grey cloud above it.

Our Kickstarter successfully funded in November of 2015. Our thinking at the time would be we’d (we, being the Unshaven Lads) hunker down and churn the remainder of the material out in time to put books into people’s hands right about now. But that grey cloud has begat a book still 14 pages (give or take) left to pencil and ink… and the entirety of the final issue to color and letter. In short, it’s not even close to done.

And sleeping two floors above me, as innocent as can be, is the most wonderful excuse why I barely give a damn. I should note as well that Unshaven Matt Wright and his amazing wife Amy brought Molly Wright into the world only a few days ago. And to answer you… no, Matt and I didn’t plan it this way.

Back to the topic at hand. No half-measures. You see, the words have never rang more true. I could dump out my freelance clients and pour myself into finishing our first graphic novel. I bet if I really tried, we could have it done in a month or less. But that’s never been the way we’ve worked. Unshaven Comics, for better or worse, has stuck to the ideology that our passion is best served proudly. And we’ll never publish a book until we’re damned proud to do so. And if that takes more time because our lights need to stay on, and young tuchuses need to be diapered? So be it. The Samurnauts when it is completed (the first graphic novel, I should say), will represent the absolute best work Unshaven Comics could produce together.

So, to you Colton, Bennett, Molly, and Aidan… know that your fathers (and Uncle Kyle!) may take forever and a day to put out their comics. But they waited their whole lives for you to be here with us now. So… what’s a few more weeks really mean?

No half-measures, kiddos. It’s just not worth it.

Marc Alan Fishman: People Can’t Change!

If you believe one Charles McGill, Esq., then you might just agree with my column title this week. Charles, or just Chuck to his brother James – err, Jimmy – is quite the cantankerous coot when he wants to be. And when he’s not being cranky, he’s stripping his brother’s soul away, through a cruel and twisted life-view. It’s enough to drive a guy to throw years of attempted redemption down the drain in lieu of cheap wins and morally ambiguous behavior. And it’s a damned beautiful shame.

I’m of course talking about the recently completed first season of Better Call Saul, the progenitor to Breaking Bad. To be totally fair, Saul isn’t what one might truly dub a prequel per se. Instead, it’s a same-universe flashback, fleshing out of an otherwise ancillary character into a fully developed lead, worthy of his own show. Suffice to say, I’ve been on board since the first episode. But unlike Breaking Bad – which I believe attempted to keep its audience at arms length from truly embracing Walter White – here we’re given Saul Goodman in the real flesh, and we’re welcome to call him our hero.

If Breaking Bad is Vince Gilligan’s (and Peter Gould’s) grand opus, then Better Call Saul is most certainly his encore. Liken it say, to Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (but not definitely not Twelve, and not Thirteen). But, I digress. We have content to dissect!

As we knew him from Bad, Saul Goodman was the epitome of a made-for-the-late-night lawyer. The kind whose waiting room brimmed with the lowest of the lowlifes in the ABQ. His office, a mock Oval Office replete with faux-columns, and the finest pleather, was a testament to what a sleazy con man might surround himself with when he wants to appear above board. It took only seconds of screen time to define him as anything close to it. But, in true fashion to deliver more than meets the eye, Saul wasn’t an idiot. He was sharp, knowledgeable, and safe enough – a con man with a coherent (if often errant) conscience. Now, flashing back six years from when we’d first seen him, we get the details behind the facade. And all of it is built on a house of cards when we learn that Saul Goodman is actually ‘Slippin’ Jimmy McGill of Cicero, Illinois.

One of the biggest themes to be presented throughout the first season was change. Over the course of ten episodes, we found the soul of someone seeking redemption. Pinned for giving a Chicago Sunroof (look it up) to the man that would steal his wife, Slippin’ Jimmy – life-long loose-change con man – is given hard time. His clean-cut brother, high-powered Albuquerque lawyer is there for his brother’s release. And its there Jimmy vows to finally change for the good. His brother’s smile through the frown is enough to show us how much belief he had in the sentiment. As we’d later learn, Slippin’ Jimmy took his pledge in all seriousness. A move away from bad influences, a menial job mastered, and a night-course law degree earned over years begat a bar-passing honest-to-goodness lawyer out of a man who once slipped for money. Real change.

When Jimmy dropped his degree-bomb on his brother, he literally had to squeeze the phrase “I’m proud of you” out of Chuck’s bewildered lips. It was not a con (but it was a degree from University of America Samoa…). But in the eyes of the good brother, it wasn’t true penance for an otherwise wasted life. Jimmy, ever eager to prove his mettle, would start a home practice when the evil partner of Chuck (The Hamlin, of Hamlin, Hamlin, and McGill) let Jimmy go from his mailroom position, and opted to only reassess Jimmy’s desire to work within the firm in six months. It was all a lie. This was merely the first jab in an astounding one-two punch.

The haymaker came shortly after Jimmy managed to wrangle a million-dollar class action lawsuit by literally swimming in sh*t long enough to earn it. And in the face of this victory – now cementing our hero as an imperfect guy willing to roll up his sleeves and earn his stripes – he met with the crushing realization that he’d never earn that spot at the table. Charles McGill, Esq. had been the one to force Hamlin to fire Jimmy before. And he made Hamlin out to be the bad guy once again, in offering to take on Jimmy’s big case… just without him anywhere near it.

There have been few moments on TV that rendered me utterly speechless. When Jimmy confronted his brother over the betrayal, and Chuck snapped back immediately with “No one ever changes!” I couldn’t muster anything but warm breath. Slippin’ Jimmy would always be Slippin’ Jimmy to Chuck. No matter the journey. No matter the facts. And with that statement, Gilligan and Gould shot Bruce Wayne’s parents. They killed Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy. They activated James McGill’s X-gene. Because now, fueled by the sentiment of the brother he still cares for, James – Jimmy – is no longer in the picture.

Long live Saul Goodman, manager of an Omaha Cinnabon.