Us geeks finally get a reality show that is interesting, well made, and has some credibility. To heck with Ice Road Truckers.
Every geek’s dream
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone that frequents this site at one time probably dreamed about working in a comic book store or video game store. I’m not talking about some chain store but a local, indie, mom and pop store that was truly one-of-a-kind. If you didn’t get to fulfill that childhood dream then a new reality show on AMC might help you relive the days you never had, Comic Book Men. The show just started and airs Sundays at 10p right after The Walking Dead…a time slot that is most certainly by design.
I’m not a big comic book guy today but I did go through a good sized comic book phase that lasted well into high school. I always loved to draw so comic books naturally appealed to me and I spent countless hours drawing my favorite superheroes. My parents even let me paint a huge mural on our basement wall that included the likes of Punisher, Spider-Man, Dr. Doom, and Moon Knight. It was pretty bitchin’ if I can say so myself and definitely one of my early artistic high points. I also take some pride in the fact that I got into comic books by virtue of the comics and art themselves and not via some blockbuster movie. This was back in the early 90s, well before X-Men hit theaters almost a decade later. I had a pretty lengthy investment into Spider-Man and Wolverine at the time. It was a lot of fun until I had to start buying other comics to keep up with story lines. I was happy buying a Spider-Man every month but then I had to start buying X-Men or Ghost Rider or Punisher just to keep up and that left me with a bunch of mags I wasn’t really interested in, and thus ended my collecting. However, despite my falling out of love with comic books, I can quickly say that I would have happily sacrificed a pinky finger to work in a comic book store.
Kevin Smith and the Comic Book Men
The reality show Comic Book Men takes us inside Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, a comic book store owned by geek high priest, Kevin Smith. The show is produced a little differently than your normal reality show but in a really great way. The premise is a radio show hosted by Kevin Smith and all the guys that work at the comic book store. Smith doesn’t actually work at the store so the roundtable is organized sort of like a staff meeting where each employee tells him about the events that happened over the past week. Of course, during that week cameras captured all the fun and those scenes are then cut between each podcast segment. Guys talking about things only geeks care about. It works.
The guys that work in the comic book store come with, as you would expect, their own unique traits, quirks, and personalities. They’re all big geeks but you have a sort of A-Team of nerds…a leader that makes the deals, the crazy guy that will do anything, and the feisty young guy that gets picked on. But sadly, no Mr. T. One part of the first episode had the guys at a flea market trying to out-sell each other. It was mildly entertaining but less because of them and more because of the people they encountered. The rest of the in-store parts had people coming in off the street trying to sell their stuff. It felt very much like Pawn Stars but with only pop culture toys and comic books…and I’m very okay with that. One guy brought in a very cool Thor poster while another guy walked in with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist only for us to find out he’s trying to sell some lame Dawn of the Dead movie memorabilia. It only took this one episode to realize that many of the memorable moments will be the crazy customers. Lets face it, we all know hardcore geeks are pretty special people and if you had any doubt, Comic Book Men will eliminate that notion.
When your hobby is your job
Comic Book Men was a lot of fun to watch for me, not just because I’m a geek that loves seeing retro toys and comics, but because it reminded me of what it was like to work in a small retail store surrounded by what is essentially your hobby. I didn’t work in a comic book store, but my first job in high school was working at a local computer store that was not unlike The Secret Stash. I was reminded that working in a store like that came with its own drama and cast of characters, but no matter what happened you were surrounded by the stuff you loved. There was never a time that I didn’t look forward going to work. I’d watch my friends go to work at Wendy’s or Target or the grocery store and be thankful that I didn’t view my situation as simply “a job.” Thanks to that store I found a career in computers that I still enjoy…that’s not to say working in a comic book or video game store wouldn’t have been better, but I think I had the next best thing. You never question the passion of the Comic Book Men cast and that’s kind of refreshing to see in a reality show. It feels genuine despite all the production.
It’s hard to say how long Comic Book Men will stay on the air. I think it sits in a niche that is pretty untapped at this point as far as reality shows go. We have plenty of shows about gold diggers, truck drivers, pawn shops, and even fishermen, but there was nothing for the geeks. Comic Book Men is more than just comic books…it’s movies, television, toys, and retro pop culture all rolled into one. I would certainly recommend tuning in after The Walking Dead next Sunday. You’ll have a good time.