I just want to say right off the bat that I really wanted to like Comic Book Men. I have great respect for Kevin Smith, and I wanted to see this show succeed not only because of that, but because I had really hoped it would open a bit of a door into my own world.
However, I was disappointed on a lot of fronts.
The show is at the same time both too much and not enough. There is not enough opportunity taken to show a different side of fandom, and way too much emphasis on the things that in truth, turn people off of comic book stores and the people who spend time in them.
Walt Flanagan is great. He seems to have a genuine passion for his store and for comics in general. The other two that work at the store (Ming and Mike) appear to be pretty interchangeable, but what really turned me off was the surly homeless man that Bryan Johnson insisted on playing. Comic Book Men is a golden opportunity to show the world that comics fans aren’t what they think they are and instead we have a person who embodies all of the negative stereotypes. He is at times a downright bully to the other cast members, and in all honesty I have no idea what he’s doing there. He doesn’t even seem to like comics!
Which is another thing. I know that there are many facets to fandom, and no one area makes or breaks a fan’s definition. But can you really call the show “Comic Book Men” when the show featured 2 comic books in and amongst the sale of dolls, posters, movie memorabilia and action figures? Even the people “stopping by” the store to sell things seemed to be sterotypically odd.
The show itself is about 20 minutes too long and it seems like they are trying to cram a lot into it, without having any real focus. Podcasting, selling/buying items, comedy bits, staff bickering, each one maybe deserving a 2 or 3 minute screentime, are jumbled up and stretched way too far to fill out the show’s run time.
The other aspect of Comic Book Men that I thought distracted the viewer from what could have been a great show was the podcasting aspect. I love several of the shows on the Smodcast network. I really enjoy hearing Kevin Smith speak, but the show over-used this idea and instead of marrying the podcast segments with what was happening on the show, they seemed to edit things in a totally random manner. It cut into the flow of the episode, making it seem very disjointed and weird.
Like I say, I have a lot of respect and love for Kevin Smith and many of his endeavors. Comic Book Men seemed to me like the greatest chance to cut through the stereotypes of comics and comics fans and maybe engage that elusive “new reader.” Instead though, it just kinda made me sad.
What brightened my mood though was finding out that Richard Clark was doing today’s page:
Born in a crossfire hurricane (actually Cleveland, OH), Richard P. Clark’s illustration career began in 1993 while still an undergraduate at The Columbus College of Art and Design. Since then, he’s worked for a wildly varied list of clients in several industries-among them HBO, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal and Alcoholics Anonymous. He’s been finding work again in the Comic Industry, including a recent job for Dark Horse providing finishes over Darick Robertson’s breakdowns for The Guild-Vork comic. He’s hoping this recent turn into the comic lane sticks as there are literally scores of stories he’d like to unleash on the world. Mr. Clark currently resides in Upstate NY after a 10-year tour of duty in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter and a goofy dog named Barnaby.
Be good, my friends! See you here Friday!