Saturday, February 18, 2012

Comic Book Men, NOT!

Last week marked the debut of Comic Book Men on the AMC cable television channel. It is a reality show that takes place in the comic book store owned by movie director and comic book writer Kevin Smith.

I hated it.

"Reality show?" I have frequented comic book stores for forty years now and what I saw on this show had no bearing on any reality I have ever observed in a comic store. Anyway, most of the episode took place in a back room (where the owner and workers sat around a table chatting instead of tending to the retail area) or at an off-site flea market.

The centerpiece of the show seems to be a warmed-over version of the blockbuster Pawn Stars show that airs on the History Channel; weird customers bring their collectibles in and try to sell them to the guys at the counter (and the guys made what I felt were unrealistically generous offers for those items on this first episode).

(As a brief aside, let me explain the high regard I have for Pawn Stars. I never had cable television in my life until six months ago. (I was, for example, curious about the 1990-1993 Swamp Thing cable series but I did not see a single episode.) I changed internet providers last September from broadband to cable and decided to try the deal on cable TV while I was at it. I immediately gravitated to Pawn Stars even though I had never given a second glance to any reality series in the past. I enjoy watching those pawn shop proprietors and the items brought in are interesting and I feel the offers made to the sellers are believable.)

On Comic Men, Kevin Smith was the discussion leader of the backroom chats, and I think the show would have benefited if his professional credentials had been presented. I think it should also have been made clear that shopworker Walt Flanagan was the artist of Smith's two Batman miniseries, Cacophony and The Widening Gyre. Omnipresent customer Bryan Johnson is also a creator who has written some comics. This show wants to suggest that its characters are your typical fans on the street but it just isn't so and, because of that, the entire production reeks of artificiality.

One thing the show does correctly is get in a few mentions of Jack Kirby. Everyone involved speaks of him reverently and that does not seem artificial. But they referred to and discussed "Kirby dots." I looked it up and yes, the phenomenon is sometimes referred to by that name, but "Kirby Krackle" is the more widely used descriptor, not to mention being far less generic sounding. (The lettering adorning the top of this article is the logo for a rock band out of Seattle that took Kirby Krackle as its name.)


At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Ed said...

Hey, thanks for letting me know about your site, very entertaining for us comic book guys. In defense of the show Comic Book Men, they are not just sitting around in a back room discussing comic books, but they are taping a podcast if i am correct. I am enjoying your site and will continue to follow!


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