Today, we participated in a conference call with Bob Fingerman and Image Comics to get details about the just announced “Minimum Wage” #1, the start of a new, monthly iteration of Fingerman’s classic semi-autobiographical comic.
“Surprising, but great” is how Fingerman characterized his return to the characters he created in the 1990s, which was facilitated by Image putting out the “Maximum Minimum Wage” collection earlier this year. Fingerman discussed his desire to work with this property again to Image’s Ron Richards, who encouraged Fingerman to reach out to Eric Stephenson. Once he did, the ball started rolling on this new series. Fingerman claims that he “never thought this would happen” until he started workin with Image on the hardcover.
Fingerman discussed where the new series picks up – three years after the original run ended with Rob, the main character, at the altar.
“He went from ‘I do’ to a state of ‘I don’t,'” said Fingerman of the now divorced Rob, three years later. He also revealed that the book would not flashback to the marriage, but would give readers some idea of what happened to tear it apart. It was important to have the characters older, but not “entering early middle age,” which they would if the book picked up 15 years later (the real time between volumes).
Richards, who was part of the call, asked how Fingerman felt about his status as one of the creators of “cringe comedy,” to which Fingerman replied, “I wish I could get that credit!” He clarified that he didn’t want to sound egotistical, but how there was no term for what he was doing when he did it. He mentioned talking to Peter Bagge in the late 90’s about why “Minimum Wage” didn’t sell as well as Bagge’s “Hate” did, and Bagge thought that “Minimum Wage” perhaps felt too real, and cut too close to home for some people.
“I was never seeking to make [the comedic elements in the book] anything other than stuff that hit you right in the gut. I hope people experience it on a level that is familiar to them.”
Fingerman said that people often come up to him and tell him that they relate to a lot of what was found in “Minimum Wage,” but that they never come forward with smiles, instead having a more “therapeutic” experience with the book.
Fingerman talked about the new monthly schedule of the book – previously, the book came out more “piecemeal, whenever I finished a section, we put it out.” To facilitate the schedule, he is banking a lot of issues – he plans on having the first four done before #1 is released in January – and by having a better idea of where the story is going. So far, he has 18 issues outlined, and hopes the more detailed plan will help him stay on schedule and be more efficient.
The book in its initial incarnation, very much so, was “a fictionalized version of my first marriage,” and Fingerman discussed being torn over how much to reveal over the call about how much of the story was from his actual life. He said that this new volume would certainly be pulling more from fiction – he estimated 50% of the book was now fiction, as opposed to 20% in its original incarnation – which allowed him to expand the scope a little and have more material to work with. He credited his novel writing as one of the keys to this new volume, as it made him more comfortable working in some additional fictional elements.
Rob’s work in the book – as a cartoonist – is still very autobiographical, but takes place at the part of Fingerman’s career when he went from “working on smut to working on something aimed at kids.” [Fingerman briefly worked on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in the early 1990s – Ed.] Rob will work in that world longer than Fingerman did, because he wants to explore how the idea of compromise in drawing a “franchise series” will impact him as an artist and creator.Continued below
Throughout the call, Fingerman kept referring to being able to do the book “the way I wanted to” – when asked what that meant, he cited a few things that made Image the destination for the book – a place that would still publish “floppies” (although he cringed at the term), one that would have a deeper reach into the direct market, and one that had a favorable contract. Image could offer all of those things. He went out of his way to say that he was not upset with his time at Fantagraphics, citing that he is still doing some work for them, but that Image was simply a better bet for this project.
“I wanted to do it to have a chance on the racks.”
The final question of the call was about more creator owned work form Fingerman, and he said that he would love to, but that it would necessitate the “Bob Fingerman brand gaining value,” as well as someone else drawing it, as there are only so many hours in the day, and he couldn’t draw a second monthly book.
The book is available for pre-order (Diamond Code NOV130413) now, and is due out January 8th. Please check out the first three pages from the first issue below.