Comic Book Men
Cult director Kevin Smith enters the reality television market with Comic Book Men, a part-video podcast, part Pawn Stars ripoff that airs on AMC right after The Walking Dead.
The series is set in Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, a comic book store owned, but not operated, by Smith. It focuses on the store’s three employees, and some bearded guy named Bryan, who comes across as a dick most of the time.
For instance, there’s a staged subplot where the manager, Walt, sends the two employees, Ming and Michael, as well as Bryan (for no particular reason) to a flea market to sell stuff they couldn’t get rid of in the store. Once there, Bryan starts destroying the things on Ming’s table. One of the best scenes in the episode is when some random flea market customer yells at Bryan for being a dick.
One of the things that bothers me about Bryan breaking Ming’s stuff is the lack of respect for the collectibles. Not that Star Trek collector’s plates are sacred items, but if this is supposed to be a show about comic geeks, I don’t know why the cast includes Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds.
The whole show feels a little divorced from the subject; like the people working at the store used to care about comics but have since become jaded and resentful of them. With Pawn Stars, the guys seem to care and get excited about what they’re buying, the Comic Book Men, by contrast, act like they couldn’t care less. There’s a scene in Kevin Smith’s Mall Rats where the main character yells at a store for not bagging and boarding comic books properly. I think someone needs to give the Comic Book Men a similar admonishment.
Another part of the show consists of people coming to the store to sell their collectibles (this is the part that rips off Pawn Stars, even going so far as to call in an expert to look at something). The draw is that they are all nerd-friendly collectibles, ranging from the impressive to mundane. Kevin Smith was interviewed on Attack of the Show and said that they put out a ‘casting call,’ to have people bring their items down to the store over two days. It makes sense, as there probably aren’t enough interesting things going on in the store in a normal day to fill an hour, but it also means that the customers are kind of just there for showboating purposes. I think the store only bought one thing during the entire episode.
Lastly, there’s the podcast which involves Kevin Smith, along with the cast, discussing what’s going on in the show. There’s a little geek chatter aside from that, but nothing terribly interesting or funny (it’s not like the Star Wars talk in Clerks).
It’s half an hour too long, Bryan is unlikable, and it lacks passion, but Comic Book Men isn’t completely merit-less. If you like Pawn Stars, you’ll get some of that here, though you’ll have to wade through some dullness to find it.