GK’s Under The Influence: Comic Book Men, Heroes or Villains?
For the uninitiated, Comic Book Men for the is the popular US reality TV show that runs on AMC (the cable channel that is home to The Walking Dead). It has however attracted its share of vocal critics as well as supporters.
Recently, it was picked up for a third series and is due to air in the UK soon (stay peeled for info). The show is based around the daily wheelings and dealings of the Kevin Smith-owned comicbook store The Secret Stash. The show essentially employs a similar format to shows like ‘Pawn Stars’ (or even the Antiques Roadshow) where members of the public bring in their swag and hope to get the most cash, only this time the swag could be, say, a Bob Kane Batman sketch or a Juggernaut statue. It doesn’t always stick to this format however, as sometimes they will show customers coming in and making unusual purchases or deal with other projects the team may have, such as recently getting their comic pitch for ‘The Cryptozoic Man’ picked up by Dynamite Entertainment.
The team – which is made up of employees who also happen to have successful podcasts on Kev’s Smodco network – is comprised of Michael Zapcic and Ming Chen of I Sell Comics and Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson of the hilarious Tell ‘Em Steve Dave podcast. The show is hosted by Kevin Smith himself and when centered around the store features a cavalcade of guest stars such as Jason Mewes, Stan Lee and collectibles expert Rob Bruce.
However, as I mentioned before, it has drawn some vocal criticism online (where else!). Ron Marz – the former Green Lantern writer who wrote the title during the time of Kyle Rayner’s rise to prominence – took to Twitter (click to view tweets). Essentially he said that the show is unwatchable, yet you would be hard-pressed to find the Twitter comments as they were swiftly deleted, The reason being that the following week, Ron had to do publicity for his new book on ‘I Sell Comics’ and clearly never got the memo as to the identity of the hosts. Instead of the arranged publicity, the hosts instead used the time on the podcast to air their views on Ron Marz.
Former WWE Champion (and notable comicbook fan) CM Punk has also aired his views about the show on Twitter.
More recently, IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams took to twitter and said….
“I’d like to start a Kickstarter to raise enough $$ to convince AMC to stop airing Comic Book Men. What an embarrassment for the comic biz.”
Interestingly though, IDW has in the past had good links with the CBM team, being the publisher of Flanagan and Johnson’s past comic book series ‘War of the Undead’ and ‘Carnie’. Where as notable fans of Comic Book Men include Dan Didio and Stan Lee, who obviously hold more weight in terms of influencing comic book fans. Personally, I think the problem lies with holding too much weight in Tweets that will eventually be buried under thousands of other throwaway opinions, as most occurrences have reasonably so far been met with a “go fuck yerself” which will only make doubters point to for further criticism.
Does Comic Book Men play into offensive stereotypes as some bloggers have stated? As a viewer I really don’t care, but I really wouldn’t say so I am mainly focused on ‘is it entertaining for me’ (hint: it is) and besides, who else on TV and online are promoting geek culture without being bone dry? Because from what I have seen, those are few and far between.
I really wish they would go back the hour long format instead of 30 minutes. The episodes were much better and didn’t feel rushed like they do now.