“I’m not even supposed to be here today!” AMC’s ‘Comic Book Men’ almost didn’t make it to this year’s New York Comic Con. Kevin Smith and his boys from The Secret Stash, Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Michael Zapcic, and Ming Chen weren’t on the schedule until about two weeks before the con, but lucky for us, they joined the party just in time to promote season two of the show and agreed to take some time to talk to the press before taking the stage at the IGN Theater for their panel.
I sat in on some roundtable interviews with some other members of the press and we got the opportunity to talk to Bryan and Walt first. Things started off with Walt expressing his dismay at the lack of white boxes (or comic books) at NYCC and how corporate the event was, to which Bryan responded, “Says the guy from AMC.” Johnson went on to say that their show may bring about a resurgance of white boxes at larger cons.
“As more people get into collecting, it would bring back the independent seller rather than the [corporations]. I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as San Diego. We used to go to San Diego in the late 90s and early 2000s and it was lots of white boxes and now it’s like all movies and A-list celebrities. New York gets people like us. San Diego gets Scarlett Johansson and Brad Pitt. Maybe if [‘Comic Book Men’] were to stimulate some interest in collecting, it could bring back the white boxes, toys, and stuff no one seems to care about right now. Don’t worry about it, Walt. We’re bringing it back.”
When asked about what “C-list characters are getting A-list attention” on the show this season, Walt would only say Mecha Kong and then stressed that they wouldn’t just be focusing on the Wolverines and the Batmans.
I asked Bryan if he was on the payroll at the Stash now that the show was going into the second season. He said no and that’s the way he likes it.
“I like being unaccountable. 9:00-5:00 is not for me. If Walt needs me, I’m there. And then if Walt needs me, sometimes I’m not there and Walt has to deal with it.”
We also talked about some rare fans who would pester the guys by coming into the store or calling repeatedly just to get on the show. Collectively, we came up with a solution to tell the dudes to show up in slave Leia outfits and see how many they could get down there in one day.
Then we touched on how Walt doesn’t read the comments, positive or negative, because, to quote Bryan, “[Walt] doesn’t give a fuck about what other people think,” and we were told that Sunday Jeff, a frequent podcaster on Kevin’s Smodcast Internet Radio would be making a cameo appearance this season, or, as Walt described him, “a living, breathing Easter egg”.
One reporter asked if either of them learned anything while teaching the world about comic books and collectibles. Walt said that Bryan learned that he shouldn’t torment Ming to the point of tears, but Bryan disagreed. “I did not learn that, as you’ll see this season.” He then went on to say that in general that he didn’t learn anything because if he learned as much about comics and stuff as Walt and Mike, then he wouldn’t be on the show.
Finally, they were asked if AMC has tried to get them to tone down some things like Bryan and how he talks to some people, for example the aspiring stand-up comedian from the first season who wasn’t that funny. Apparently, AMC has been pretty good with not doing that, but the only thing that the network came down on him for threatening someone online with manifestos.
“They’ve been really good about not coming down on me for certain things. The only thing we heard a little bit was don’t pick on Ming so much, which of course makes me pick on him more, but mostly because Kevin, at the beginning of both seasons, said, ‘Do what you want.’, and if AMC ever had anything to say, they never said it.”
After our time with Walt and Bryan ended, it was time to chat with Mike, Ming, and Kevin. Though Mr. Smith did a lot of the talking, as he is known to do, the ‘I Sell Comics’ duo got a few words in here and there.
Previously, I talked with Mike and Ming back at Wizard World Philly and I attended their panel, which was early in the morning on the last day of the con. This time around, they were participating in one of the biggest panels on the biggest day in the biggest room in New York Comic Con. I asked about what it was like to make the jump. Ming started by pointing out that it was just he and Mike in Philly, but now it’s all five of them. Then, they went on to say:
Ming: “It’s huge. IGN is about 3,000 people. Half of Hall H [in San Diego].”
Kevin: “We won’t fill it. Don’t worry. No pressure.”
Ming: “For me, it’s mind-blowing.”
Mike: “It is. Hell, even the 60 people that showed up at our panel on a Sunday at 10 o’clock was mind blowing to me. I’m worried that I’m gonna pull a Cindy Brady and just freeze up.”
Ming: “Don’t be Cindy Brady.”
Kevin: “We only have to cover one hour. Five of it is cover by a clip, and then after intros, there’s about 45 minutes that you have to worry about, only a fifth of which is yours. You can do it dude. But if Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan fall, you’re next. Then you’re Rudy.”
Funny enough, Mike had to cover even less than that because at the panel, there was mic trouble which held things up a bit. Also, the place was in fact packed. I almost couldn’t get into the IGN Theater, but luckily I made I in right on time. And those clips that also ate up some time revealed that Stan Lee will be stopping into the shop this season.
After talking about relinquishing his moderator duties to Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist (“You want a moderator who’s easy to look around otherwise you can’t see the people on the panel. If I’m up front, they’re like, ‘Move, fat boy!’. Hardwick’s like a pencil.”), he talked about his next projects ‘Hit Somebody’ and ‘Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie’.
“It’s coming. I was literally watching the most recent rendering of the animated flick and it was phenomenal. I was watching on my patio and watching and giggling out loud. Boisterously laughing out loud. So much so that across the building there were window washers and they looked over. I was like, ‘Wow, I better go inside.’ It was really, really funny.
There’s also so many Smodco voices in it and there are places for others so that we’re gonna have everybody who does shows on the network do a voice in the cartoon. It’s so homegrown and it’s so fun. I mean, don’t get me wrong. This ain’t no Pixar effort. It’s real flat. It’s flash 2D, but it’s pretty funny stuff. We’re gonna be done with that in March and then we take that out into the world and tour it like we did with ‘Red State’.”
Kevin also mentioned that ‘Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie’ was produced for criminally low sums that added up to close to what it costs to make ‘Clerks’ almost 20 years ago. That’s pretty wild when you think about it.
As for ‘Hit Somebody’, Kevin’s working on getting it down to 150 pages and then he’s going to start pre-production.
It’s always a good experience for me whenever I get to talk to the Comic Book Men and Kevin Smith. As anyone who’s been following my work knows, I’m a huge fan of almost everything Kevin does, so it’s always an honor when I get to talk to him and his crew.
Be sure to catch new episodes of ‘Comic Book Men’ on AMC every Sunday at 11:30pm following ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Talking Dead’ on AMC.