Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men: For Fanboys and Fanmen Alike

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Indie film and comic book superstar Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men premiered on AMC this past Sunday, February 12. The reality show follows the daily lives of the boys behind the counter at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, Kevin’s comic store in his hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey.

At first glance, Comic Book Men plays itself out as a comic geek’s answer to Pawn Stars, mixing moments of comic, movie and TV memorabilia sales with an abundance of frat boy antics Ping-Ponging between the guys who run the shop. The show also turns the cameras on in the recording studio for additional commentary about what’s going on in the episode itself and offers viewers plenty more comic-related tidbits; it’s during these scenes that Kevin himself gets in on the oftentimes zany dialogue.

The premiere episode concerned itself mostly with orienting viewers to the Fab Foursome at Secret Stash: There’s Ming, Mike and Bryan, who enter into a contest early on to see who can sell off his tableful of toys, comics and other costly items hacked down to Crazy Eddie prices at the Collingswood Market. Then there’s Walt, the store’s general manager, who keeps out of the contest and tries to sell some comics but instead ends up buying more than he sells. The highlight of the show is Bryan, who doesn’t actually work at Secret Stash but whose playful and cynical nature can’t help but induce a hearty laugh. In one scene he asks Mike in all sincerity: “Does anybody ever come in here to buy anything?”

And that’s what the bulk of the show revolves around –– the buying of comic books and other memorabilia. It’s very cool to see things like a 12” Six Million Dollar Man figure, a signed copy of Tomb of Dracula #10 and a Jack Kirby poster of Thor from 1970 come in through the door. Sometimes these items will stay with Walt and the boys and other times they’ll return home with their owners, as was the case with an unboxed life-sized Chucky doll from Child’s Play, whose owner strangely resembles the doll version of Tiffany from Bride of Chucky.

It’s this nostalgia that makes Comic Book Men appeal to fanboys and fanmen alike, and it’s something I hope to see more of in future episodes. The scenes in the studio, while offering some further insights into the universe of comics, takes away from the pacing of the show, which would have benefited from showing more rare Bob Kane sketches of The Dynamic Duo and Dawn of the Dead lobby cards, which one customer kept locked up in a black leather bag handcuffed to his wrist (Now that’s entertainment!)

Overall, if you love comics or if you’re just a fan of Kevin Smith’s films and especially his SModcast, then this is the way to end your Sunday night and make Monday at the office just a bit more bearable. From references to classic horror films like The Shining to seeing one-of-a-kind memorabilia from comicdom and beyond, Comic Book Men caters to the inner child in all of us.

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  • VashNL

    VashNL Feb 17, 2012 at 6:18am

    I downloaded this, not really knowing what it was, but anything with comic book in the title has my interest. Though I was pretty bummed it wasn't an over the top tv-series about people acting out like comic book characters (with the probable hilarity that could ensue), I actually kind of like it.

    Of course, the fact that it has to do with comic books helps, as I could never watch something like Pawn Stars, but I also like the fact that they talk with each other outside the store on their radio program. With most of those shows just showing a single person talking to the camera, I am happy they're not really doing that, but provide a nice back and forth between them.

  • Trigonis

    Trigonis Feb 20, 2012 at 12:23pm

    Hmm...a series about people acting like comic book heroes certainly sounds interesting and appropriate, truth be told! We'll have to chat with Kevin about that one. But you make a great point about the group discussion factor v. the one person staring into the camera; I guess it is a pretty cool thing. I'm just happy they do keep it about comics in the studio as well as in the storefront.

  • VashNL

    VashNL Feb 20, 2012 at 12:27pm

    Well, if you do chat with Kevin about it. Do mention that I came up with the idea. :p

    Looking forward to the next episode though! :D

  • Trigonis

    Trigonis Feb 20, 2012 at 12:31pm

    Ha! Sure thing, my friend :-)

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