AMC is taking its first steps into the unscripted genre this Sunday after ‘The Walking Dead’, and they are not alone because they’re taking filmmaker and podcaster Kevin Smith with them.
‘Comic Book Men’ is a six-part series that will dive into the fanboy culture by following the employees of geek god Smith’s Red Bank, NJ comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, as they are presented with and uncover pop culture artifacts and comic book treasures to geek out over.
To promote the premiere of the show, AMC invited members of the press to a luncheon and Q&A session yesterday at Caroline’s on Broadway, and I was able to attend.
Prior to the Q&A, we were invited to mingle with the cast a bit. During this time, I was lucky enough to speak briefly with Ming Chen, the whipping boy of The Stash, about the new show, Asians in the media and how he’d take the fame associated with being on AMC. Ming joked that he’d love to be mistaken for actor Steven Yuen, who plays Glenn on ‘The Walking Dead’. When that happens, he said, he’d know that he’s made it. And, since we were at a Kevin Smith event, it was almost inevitable that some talk of d*cks and farts were sure to come up. On the topic of Asian stereotypes that we’d like to have stricken from the record, I brought up the size factor that ‘South Park’ infamously (and hilariously) points out. Chen said, “Oh no. That’s about right for me. But I did spawn two kids, so at least it works.”
Shortly after my conversation with Ming, Kevin Smith arrived and it was time to get to the main event. He took the stage at Caroline’s, along with Charlie Corwin, executive producer and Original Media CEO who has worked on shows such as ‘LA Ink’, ‘Swamp People’, and ‘Storm Chasers’. The two of them briefly spoke about how ‘Comic Book Men’ came to be. After being introduced to each other by Elyse Seiden, executive producer and producer of Smith’s ‘Red State’, Charlie asked Kevin if he had any ideas for the show. Smith suggested that if they were going to do something for the geek audience, they should just hold up a mirror and do a comic book store reality show. “But hold it up real. Not like some distorted f*cking fun house mirror where it’s like. ‘These f*ckers don’t get laid and they live in their parents basements!’” And with that, ‘Comic Book Men’ was born.
After that Kevin introduced the cast: Ming Chen, the man who runs Kevin’s online empire, Mike Zapcic, who “forgot more about f*cking comics than Stan Lee will ever know” (Kevin’s words, not mine.), Bryan Johnson, career slacker, and Walt Flanagan, “the nucleus power cell” of the whole group.
When asked about the balance of the show in terms of catering towards a true believer nerd audience and an every day non-nerd, Kevin mentioned that the groundwork had already been laid and introduced to the main stream media already by ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Comic Book Guy’, so it made things a little easier for them. Charlie added that the authenticity of these guys in the shop would be appealing to a wider audience.
Noticeably absent from the cast is a female presence on the staff. When asked about some love for the female geeks, Kevin said that by virtue of interest, there’s bound to be crossover, just like how he watched every episode of ‘Sex in the City’, even though it definitely wasn’t meant for him. Also, there will definitely be chicks in the show, but the reality is that these are four guys who actually work in the store. Or, actually, three guys who work there and one who just happens to be there all the time. “Originally, when we did the presentation, AMC was like, ‘It’s a sausage fest. Get a chick in there.’ So we were like, ‘All right’ and we brought a chick in to shoot a new presentation. But then AMC watched it and they go, ‘Well that’s not the reality of the show, so let’s just keep it to the boys,” said Smith. Season one was more meant to set the stage and show the reality of this world. Smith then says that possibly in season two, if there is a season two, they could augment the reality of the show by adding a female to the mix, or create a whole other show to expand the franchise and call it ‘Comic Book Women’ (which Kevin and Charlie own the copyright to) that shows four or five women running a store.
Among some other topics discussed during the Q&A were Snooki appearing on the show, which would be welcome by all except Bryan, the potential for theme episode in the future, the casts’ most anticipated comic book film release of this year, and the likelihood of seeing some other members of Smith’s View Askewniverse on the show.
The last topic that the guys discussed was the possibility of an appearance at Comic Con. As every geek and nerd knows, Kevin Smith is there every year, but as for the rest of the cast, Smith had this to say: “With a show called ‘Comic Book Men’ on TV, how could we not be there. It’s like the Mecca of the culture, so if the show continues, we’ll definitely be there.”
Once again, ‘Comic Book Men’ premieres on AMC this Sunday, February 12th at 10:00pm, immediately following ‘The Walking Dead’. If the sound of an uber nerdy ‘Pawn Stars’ brought to you by the man behind ‘Clerks’, ‘Mallrats’, and ‘Dogma’ sounds appealing to you, definitely tune in.