Around this time of year, I tend to remember my very first assignment for ScienceFiction.com. It was a recap of a promotional event for the first season of ‘Comic Book Men’ on AMC. Since that very first article, I’ve kept running into the guys from Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash from time to time and both the show and I have grown along the way (but probably haven’t matured much). Now, at this year’s New York Comic Con, I was invited to chat with the guys once again about the upcoming third season and various other things inside and outside of the show.
During this roundtable interview, I joined an enthusiastic group of press to talk with Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Ming Chen, and Mike Zapcic about what’s in store for them at Kevin Smith’s Red Bank, NJ comic book store. At times, we may have strayed to talk about Bryan’s favorite show, ‘Breaking Bad’, but we eventually got back to the task at hand. However, it didn’t really take that long to find another tangent to talk about.
For instance, during the show’s second season, the guys created an original horror comic for Dynamite called ‘Cryptozoic Man’. Somewhat relating to that, I asked Walt about his previous comic work on ‘Batman: Cacophony’ and ‘Batman: The Widening Gyre’ with Kevin and how that creative process differed compared to the one with Bryan, Ming, and Mike:
ScienceFiction.com (SF): Where were the differences creatively in working with Kevin on the Batman books as opposed to working with Bryan, Ming, and Mike on your new Dynamite comic, ‘Cryptozoic Man’?
Walt Flanagan (WF): Since you’re not working on a character like Batman that has 75 years of continuity, it has to be presented in a way that fans expect it to look. It has to be recognizable. But you don’t have that when you’re working on your own creation. You have more freedom to pretty much anything that you want to do when you work on your own stuff.
Bryan Johnson (BJ): If Cryptozoic Man pees his pants, people don’t react as strongly as if Batman does.
WF: Which will happen.
Mike Zapcic (MZ): No one is going to freak out if they cast Ben Affleck as Cryptozoic Man.
SF: Any other original comics in the works?
WF: Yeah. If everything goes well and if anyone out there is interested in seeing more stuff from us, we have plenty more ideas.
Since we’ve always heard about their home lives, we were curious about the guys’ families and whether or not they would appear in the show on the future. By the sounds of things, that’s pretty unlikely:
Ming Chen (MC): I think a lot of that is on purpose. My wife’s like, “No, I don’t want to be on TV.” And then the kids don’t want to be on TV. But us playing hockey and stuff like that, you might see more of that.
In the past, ‘Comic Book Men’ has had some great guest stars like Stan Lee and, from the first episode of season three, Lou Ferrigno, so we asked if there were any that they wished would appear on the show some day:
BJ: I asked for Henry Winkler, but they said no. I don’t even think that they tried. They probably just said no.
MC: Did you really ask for him?
MC: The Fonz?
BJ: Yeah. In the very beginning, I said, “Do you think Henry Winkler would come on?” Then they said probably not and it kinda ended there.
MC: I’d like to see any of the remaining ‘Star Wars’ cast members. That would be cool. Mark Hamill or even Chewbacca. Peter Mayhew!
MZ: Almost none of them are dead!
MC: Alec Guinness.
MZ: Oh you’d want Alec Guinness?
MC: Yeah, in ghost form.
MZ: That would be great! We almost had Joel Hodgson on, which would have been pretty cool in my opinion. I’m a big ‘Mystery Science Theater’ fan. I’d love to get [William] Shatner or George Takei. That would be awesome.
BJ: Maybe season four. We met George in Miami. Nice guy.
MC: He seemed to like us.
BJ: He’s an actor though, so he probably doesn’t like us at all.
For many fans of the unscripted AMC series, some of the funniest moments involve Bryan’s relentless teasing of Ming. In real life, they are friends, but as most friends do, they bust balls because they care. So naturally, I asked Bryan if we could expect some stand out Ming-bashing moments from this season:
MC: Every episode.
BJ: Yup, there’s quite a few. Ming gets down to his skivvies.
WF: But that was on your on accord. You picked wardrobe that day.
MC: I wasn’t the only one though.
BJ: Yeah. I don’t know. Did we do any contest where when you lost?
MC: I don’t know, but it just sort of happens. If you’re there and I’m there, I’m getting humiliated.
Finally, because at the end of the day these guys are comic book fans, I had to ask them about all the great crossovers that have come out this year. While I have been a fan of Jonathan Hickman’s ‘Infinity’ for Marvel, it seems that the Stash guys have been enjoying some of the other offerings from the world of comics lately:
SF: There have been some pretty awesome comic events this year. Which one did you guys like best?
MC: The lead up to ‘All Out War’ in ‘The Walking Dead’. Something happened in issue #100 and I was pretty disappointed by it for maybe obvious reasons, but now they’ve started building it up again.
MZ: ‘Forever Evil’. I’ve been digging that even though it’s just in the beginning stages. Geoff Johns is doing a great job.
WF: Yeah, I’d have to agree with Mike. I thought the lenticular covers harkened back to the 90s a bit, but when you saw how good the covers looked, it softened me on how neat it all was to actually see a cover that moved like that. I quickly got on that bandwagon and said it was pretty cool.
SF: Walt, do you have a favorite lenticular cover?
WF: I thought all of them were really, really good. I love the ‘Swamp Thing’ one. I thought the ‘Bane’ one looked really good too. But they all were tens. They really, really were sharp looking.
As always, it’s a pleasure to talk to the Comic Book Men and I look forward to the next time that we can chat about the show or just things in general. If you’re craving more ‘Comic Book Men’ goodies from New York Comic Con, stay tuned for my interview with Kevin Smith coming soon.
‘Comic Book Men’ starring Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Kevin Smith, Ming Chen, and Mike Zapcic airs Sundays at Midnight/11c on AMC after ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Talking Dead’.