Tagged: Unshaven Comics


Hello all. Welcome back to my angry little corner of the interwebosphere. Last week I bitched and moaned about variant covers… and well, you all agreed with me. Thank you. Not that we’ll see that stop mind you, but at least I know I’m not alone when I scoff. I know everyone this week has the DCnU on the brain. But honestly? I’m tired of it. Some books are amazing (Action Comics, Animal Man), some are profoundly underwhelming (Justice League, JLI), and some defy all logic for being printed (Voodoo. I know it’s not out yet, but come on.). Six months from now, when 1/3 of these comics are poop-canned, will anyone be surprised? Nope. DC has never shied away from gimmicks. So enjoy the ride. But I digress. Instead of adding to the tidal wave of blather about DC this week, I want to talk about something far more important. I want to talk about my son.

This past Tuesday, September 13th, my wife and I got our 20-week ultrasound. Breaking tradition (we’re totally into SPOILER ALERTS) we decided to find out the sex of our baby. I can’t tell a lie (ok, I can, but for the sake of argument… I won’t.) – I wanted a boy. And right there, in blue and black, my little guy waved hi to me. It was an experience I’ll never forget. The fear, the joy, all of it combined in that little hospital room. My best friends (Matt of Unshaven Comics and his lovely wife, Amy) are two weeks ahead of Kathy and me. They found out last week they are having a boy too. Thus the scions of Unshaven Comics will be here in January/February of 2012. When they enter this world, there’s no way to escape it: comic books will be an integral part of their lives. The question is… what comics will be?

Growing up, my parents didn’t read to me. I don’t have a single memory of my parents sitting by my bedside reading Goodnight Moon. My folks aren’t readers, honestly. It’s never bothered me. I myself don’t consider reading all that much of a hobby. Every moment I’m awake I’m generally working. For my employer. For Unshaven Comics. For ComicMix. For my wife. For your wife. Confession time kids. The only time I read (and 99% of the time we’re talking comic books here) I’m on the can. Only an idiot like me would try to be double productive when I’m pooping. Why just defecate when I can be entertained at the same time?!

All this being said though, I’ve made it a point to myself to share the joy of the written word (and the drawn picture) with my son. The escapism, imagination, and craft of a good book, or good comic for that matter is something I want my son to enjoy as early in his life as possible. Not just cause his daddy loves it mind you… Because in this day and age where 140 characters has come to represent a complete thought, stopping to read even 20 pages of muscly guys punching other muscly guys is better than the ADD-riddled alternative. The TV, the computer, the cellphone? All have a place in my son’s life, but it’s not going to be the end-all-be-all for his entertainment needs.

So what’s my evil master plan? First and foremost, Daddy is gonna read Fishy 2.0 all of Unshaven Comics. I yearn for the day my son is on the playground and an exchange goes something like this:

Random snot-nosed other kid: Superman would beat the Hulk!

Lil’ Fishman: And Liberty’s Torch would beat Superman!!

Random snot-nosed other kid: Who’s that?

Lil’ Fishman: Just the coolest super-est hero that ever lived! Duh! (Little Fishy then proceeds to detail all he knows about his Dad’s super-hero creations. Soon, the entire elementary school is ready for The Samurnauts… and I’m a millionaire.)

All ego-stroking aside, when introducing my future son to comic books, the plan is simple: What Dad reads, the son shall read as well. As soon as possible, I want to introduce my son to great “all-ages” books like Tiny Titans (or essentially anything by Art and Franco) and a little Archie. As he grows up, I’ll open up my collection to him. If he’s receptive to it, I’ll proudly read just about any book I own with him.

Obviously I’ll turn on my parental V-chip to ensure the content is kid-appropriate. But one thing that I’m a huge proponent of is not shielding my eventual child from the world. I’ve never smoked a cigarette. Simply put, child rearing scares the hell out of me. Last night I read for an hour about baby poop, how to help a child say his first word, and how to look for warning signs if baby is gonna spray you when changing a diaper. But when it comes to entertaining my son, there’s no question. The entire world of comic books is open to him. I’ll start small, and simple, and slowly introduce him to all the great genres – be it superhero, western, sci-fi, horror, love, fantasy, pulp, noir, and maybe even a little of all of it (i.e. GrimJack). Ultimately, my son will gain his own identity, and I know it’s my job then to nurture it, and let him find his own way. Even if he ends up liking the X-Men. God help me.

I’ve never been drunk. I’ve never taken an illegal drug. And my parents never once had to sit me down to explain any of it. I watched what I wanted to watch. I read what I wanted to read. And they were always quick to explain to me anything that was confusing or “adult.” I intend to do the same. Does that mean my son will read the Watchmen at 8? Probably not alone, but his dad will gladly read it with him. He’ll learn about history through the lens of fiction. It will create a curiosity about the world… and I can’t think of a better way to help my son learn, grow, and come into his own.

And when he turns 16, I’ll lend him The Pro. That outta’ keep him… interested.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: The First Comic That Mattered… To Me

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: The First Comic That Mattered… To Me

Strangers (Malibu Comics)

Image via Wikipedia

Welcome back, friends. After the hate-spew I delivered in the first few weeks, and the near love-in I had over the last two… I asked myself what was the obvious next step.

Yes, Marc?
What’s the obvious next step?
Hell if I know. I still hate Flashpoint. And about half of the DC reboot. And the X-Men. And walnuts.
Well, that’s no help.
Sorry. Why don’t you talk about Malibu?

Seems simple enough. Let me set the scene. It was 6th grade. 1993. I’d just met this crazy kid named Matt who drew better than me, and loved comics. I was insanely jealous of his talent, and unlike my other friends at the time, he wasn’t a brilliant mathematician well on his way to being our eventual class valedictorian. He invited me to a sleepover birthday party, which pretty much meant by the next week, we were hyper-awesome bestest friends.

27 days after his birthday party, he showed up at my house, in the frigid December air. He handed me a box. “Happy Birthday, dude.” Paper rips, bow is tossed to the stoop. Before my 12 year old eyes, bagged and boarded, were copies of UltraForce #1 and The Strangers #1. Matt had remembered that I’d seen the short-lived UltraForce cartoon show, and loved it. Especially the episode featuring The Strangers. Excuse me for a second… I need to go wipe my eyes. It’s dusty down here. Dusty!

Suffice to say, I read those two books near instantaneously. And then reread them. Looked over every nook and cranny, too. Something about these books spoke to me in a way no other sequential literature had.


MARC ALAN FISHMAN: “We Interrupt This Snark for a Shameless Plug”

Hello all. I thought I’d change things up a tad today… and not just tear into a character, creator, or comic that drives me bonkers. I figured instead it’d be fun to discuss a comic I actually love. OK, this may not actually count. Why? It’s my comic.

Unshaven Comics is my studio/self-publishing/merchandising pet project, alongside my brothers-from-other-mothers, Matt Wright and Kyle Gnepper. Back in 2006 we were lucky fuckers who were given a shot to make a book for an actual publisher. I won’t get into the details, but suffice to say we learned more lessons than we earned dollars. We wouldn’t trade that experience in for the world; especially because it’s how we came to meet Mike Gold. That’s not where the story ends though. In fact, it’s where it all begins.

Having finished a project on someone else’s terms, Unshaven Comics looked around for someone else to work for. Unlucky for us, publishing a tiny educational comic book about immigration isn’t the way to get on anyone’s radar. Thus, we looked inward. Why do a book for someone when you can do one for yourself, right? If comics aren’t going to pay our bills, it might as well be something we give a damn about. Thus, Disposable Razors was born. Pie-eyed, we pitched it to Mike. “Anthologies? They don’t sell.” And like happy drunks, we just kept on keeping on.

Disposable Razors conceptually isn’t a hard sell. For us? It’s an exercise. A single issue to tell a single story that leaves enough of a world developed that should we care to return to it, we can. Issue 1 was Kyle’s baby, Chasing Daylight, wherein a group of four guys learn about the frailty of friendship by way of a demon. Issue 2 was fishtastic: Iron Side: Living Will, wherein a retired geriatric superhero straps up his boots on one last mission before he meets his maker. And as I sit here looking at it… Issue 3 is now a reality as well. This time around the three of Unshaven lads really worked as a team (with Kyle penning half, Matt painting said half, and crazy me writing and drawing the other half). Issue #3 is homage to our childhoods. I need only give you the pitch on this one. The Samurnauts™! Astronaut Samurai led by an immortal Kung-Fu monkey fighting evil demon dinosaurs. I can’t even type that without smiling a little.

A recent exchange with my friends at ComicMix posed an interesting question. “What exactly are you looking for, Unshaven Comics?” In our wildest dreams, Marvel or DC comes to us and says “Hey, how about we give you a shot.” In our less-but-not-really-cause-it’d-be-amazing dreams, Image, Avatar, Boom or Dynamite comes to us and says “Hey, how about we give you a shot.” But in the real world? DC isn’t calling. Marvel ain’t either. Avatar and the like are after licenses, and their creative teams are generally established. Trust me, this kind of talk from me even two years ago, wouldn’t happen. I’m an admitted dreamer. But, getting married? A kid on the way? It has a knack for opening the bigger picture to a guy.

Unshaven Comics was founded because at the time, our early 20s, we had our future at our fingertips. We knew the traditional routes into comics. Matt could have easily made a portfolio, pitched himself to editors at con after con, and if he was lucky? Land a gig doing a backup in an annual. Once. And Kyle? Getting into comics as a writer is about as easy as… well… getting into comics as a writer. And me? A jack of all trades, a master at none. I can color. I can letter. I fancy myself a writer. And if I put my mind to it? I can pencil and ink. If I were lucky, a publisher might use me in a pinch (cough, The Original Johnson, Volume 2). But I digress… Like I said, we were founded on the idea that if we were to make it into the industry, it was all for one, and one for all. Insane? You bet your ass. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Doing our own books means I have to hang up the snark gloves and ask myself what I want to see in a comic. With backs against the wall, and your soul for sale for five bucks a pop, whilst sitting at a six foot table in the midst of real professionals? It’s exhilarating. And with every sale to a stranger, a knot in my stomach forms. Will they like it? Are fooling ourselves? Does the book look professional enough? Oh my god, is there a typo?

Sometimes, the reactions we get astound us. We had a girl buy book 1 on a Friday. She came back to the table on Saturday gushing. She bought book 2. Other times? We get slapped right in the jaws. Johanna Draper Carlson of “Comics Worth Reading” stopped by our table last year. She flipped through the issue and a long frown came upon her face. “This is just… not good. But I like your logo!” And she was off. She tripped a little over our now dead egos, and moved on. I could wax poetic as to why I think our comics are the bee’s knees… but frankly I’m the artist. Too close to my work to know if I should just be reading them, not writing them.

For the last five years I have given up a social life. Both my and Matt’s amazing wives have allowed their husbands to spend near every hour that isn’t at work, eating, pooping or sleeping… making comic books. Disposable Razors #3 in fact, was near 225 work-hours, last I counted. And those hours? Not 9 to 5. That’s every night after working day jobs. It’s weekends not spent relaxing on a couch, or watching a movie. From taking reference shots, scripting, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, editing, reediting and prepping the book to print? The last four months of our life have been nothing short of exhausting. All for 36 quickly read pages of art and words. We’re tired. We’re cranky. We’re hoping people buy it, and don’t spit on us.

And we’ll do it all again tomorrow. Why? Because, when you’re living the dream, you never want to wake up.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Unshaven Comics: Messing Up Super People Because We Love You

Call it a bit of shameless cross promotion… but we beardly blokes of Unshaven Comics wanted to hip ya’ll to the craziness we’re spreading on our website this month. In case you missed it, last month we featured “Mixed Up March“, where we lads (well, Matt Wright mostly, but I jumped into the fracas at the end) decided to swap the genders of some of our favorite comic book heroes and villains. And this month? The craziness continues with our newly announced “April Addition Armageddon” where we smash together two characters from different universes.

Want to see some of the fun? Then hop on over to Unshaven Comics’ website and enjoy the laughter.

C2E2 Floor Report: Unshaven Comics

Hello all! I know it’s been a good long while since we chatted. Allow me back into your hearts, and I shall tell you a tale. Unshaven Comics, for those not-in-the-know, is the small independent publishing company I am co-owner of. Unshaven Comics is myself, and my two best friends, Matt Wright and Kyle Gnepper. We formed back in 2007 when we were commissioned to create our first published work… “The March: Crossing Bridges in America”. We released the book in 2008 at the Wizard World Chicago, and sold our butts off. One of our customers? Mike Gold. Yup, that Mike Gold. And soon thereafter… well, you see my name on this site from time to time, so you get the picture.

Let’s jump ahead a couple years, shall we? While we liked doing our debut book… we craved the world of fiction. Thus, we launched “Disposable Razors”… a 3 part anthology series that allowed we Unshaven Lads the opportunity to explore the genres we love. At C2E2 (That’s the Chicago Comics Entertainment Expo) last year, we debuted issue 1. Matt and I got married. No to each other. And then we got houses. Not next to each other, but close. And Kyle moved into his own pad not far away either. Life got in the way, but not enough to stop us from creating. This year, we were proud to start our 2011 convention circuit with issue 2. And here’s where our real story begins.


Webcomics You Should Be Reading: “The Gutters”

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: “The Gutters”

Gentle reader, I know it’s been an eon and a half since last I told you to dust off that bookmark button. But to be honest, I’ve been buried in the same set of webcomics for a long time now, with nothing piquing my interest as such… until now. Found literally by happenstance, I bring to you today a webcomic that is not like any other I’ve brought to you thus far. I bring to you… The Gutters.

Produced and written by Ryan Sohmer, the same dude that puts out a former Webcomic You Should Be Reading, Least I Could Do, The Gutters is truly a unique webcomic beast. Instead of a singular cast, The Gutters uses today’s comic books as fodder for content. Expressing a gripe about “One More Day” or “Blackest Night,” or offering a more general comics in-joke, the strip skewers just about everyone in the industry… fictional or not! Instead of a single artist, The Gutters employs the services of a multitude of industry pros. Past strips has been drawn by the likes of Eugene JjAR, cartoonist Chris Jones, comic book guru Bill Sienkiewicz, and webcomic god Scott Kurtz. Even Least I Could Do‘s Lar deSouza lends his hand on occasion. At the end of the day, the combination of a rotating art cast with Sohmer’s wit and criticism of the comic industry equals a damn funny webcomic that had the Unshaven Comics crew doing spit takes while we roamed through the archives. Although the comic is only 40 strips old, it offers a gold mine of jokes.

Normally, I peruse the wikipedia of the “About Us” page to pick up a little backstory. Sadly, The Gutters is far too new and awesome to have garnered an entry yet. From what I can glean from the blogs, though, the project is pretty straightforward. According to Sohmer:

“In brief, Gutters is a series of standalone pages that parody the
comic book industry and the heroes and characters that dwell within.
Think of it as an editorial cartoon targeting comic books, and you’ll
understand where we’re going with it.

While I’ll be writing Gutters, Lar will be the art director with Ed
Ryzowski serving as colorist. As for who will be doing the actual art,
well, that’s where things get interesting (and slightly different).
Rather than have one artist pencil each page, we elected to have a
rotating roster of professional artists, among them some giants in the
comic book industry alongside new and emerging talent. This way, in
addition to what I hope will be a humorous comic, Gutters will also be
an ongoing showcase of art.”


An Unshaven Interview

An Unshaven Interview

Way back when, at the C2E2 convention, Unshaven Comics cut itself out a little mecca within Artist’s Alley in hopes of making new fans. Across the aisle from such Alley giants like Katie Cook, and siting besides amazing guys like Leo Kohse of Bloodfire Studios… our little table did what it could to be noticed. We wore company tee-shirts. We hung an 8 foot banner with 3 ft tall smiley faces adorned to it’s white vinyl. We yelled at Dan DiDio and Tom Brevoort to buy our book (for the record, Dan did, and enjoyed the free stickers. Tom didn’t even let Kyle finish the pitch). We called in fans from far and wide across the aisle with our tracktor beam-like powers. And then we got the idea to meet awesome media-types in hopes one of them would want to know our Unshaven Backstory.

After shaking down countless not-as-cool people… we ran into the Chicago Red Eye reporter Elliot Serrano. One interview, 17 reminders, and a few under-the-table dealings later (hey… it IS Chicago, mind you) we got ourselves a little publicity! And thanks to a few bribes with the good folks here at ComicMix… here’s a tasty link for you to enjoy our interview. Now click it, and enjoy!

Zatanna at the Ostrander Comic-Con Auction by Gene Ha

Zatanna at the Ostrander Comic-Con Auction by Gene Ha

If you didn’t make it to the Comix4Sight benefit auction for John Ostrander, you missed the added incentive of having the lovely Kathy  displaying the items up for auction, while dressed in a Zatanna costume.

Luckily for you, Gene Ha was there and recorded the activity as only he could.

And before you ask– no, she’s engaged. And if you try anything, I will be forced to hurt you. (For your own good, you understand– her fiancee would kill you.)

Yes, more art will be up for auction soon.

No, she’s only displaying a few pieces that are still up for auction.

UPDATE: No, even we can’t hire her. She has an exclusive contract with Unshaven Comics, who volunteered their time and effort to help out with the auction.

Unshaven Comics presents Famous Facial Hair in Fiction Fundraising for Chicago Comicon

Unshaven Comics presents Famous Facial Hair in Fiction Fundraising for Chicago Comicon

At the upcoming Chicago Comicon, me and my ‘Unshaven Cohorts’ will be (amongst other things) raising money for the Comix4Sight charity and auction at our table in artist’s alley. Simply drop by, and you can be a proud owner of our freshly minted “Famous Facial Hair in Fiction” Stickers! We’re featuring:

  • The Marvel Heroes: Wolverine, Tony Stark (Vintage Pre-Movie Moustache style), and Thor (Kick-Assed Bearded style)
  • The DC Villains: Deathstroke The Terminator, Sinestro, and Ra’s A Ghul
  • General Pop-Culture Icons of Kiss-Assery: Shaft (Shut Yo’ Mouth.), Walker Texas Ranger, and Magnum P.I.

The stickers will be on sale for 2 bucks a piece, or get the whole set for 5 bucks! ALL proceeds go to Comix4Sight.

And hey, if you’ve got more money to spend, we are still selling copies of The March: Crossing Bridges in America, as well as a collector’s preview of “Disposable Razors: Volume 1”. Shameless plug over. Come out, and help support this awesome charity, and take home a few stickers to make people jealous with.