Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Comic Book Men

I like Kevin Smith.

There, I said it.

It seems like people, and by people I mean "people on the internet" have gotten it into their heads that it's cool to beat up on Kevin Smith. Have his most recent movies been great? No. But that doesn't mean it's ok to kick him around. Same thing with M. Night Shyamalan. But you don't even get me started on that one; if I can forgive him for The Last Airbender so can you.

ANYWAY. Kevin Smith. I think part of it is that I have always had a soft spot for smart, funny geeky types. And I think his beard is cute. So you can count me a Kevin Smith apologist.

All this is merely background so you will understand my excitement when AMC announced it would be airing a reality show created by and kind of starring Kevin Smith called Comic Book Men. Turns out Kevin Smith owns a comic book shop in New Jersey. Now that I think about it, that fact isn't really that shocking. But some person at AMC had the smart idea to make a reality show out of the people who work at the comic book shop.

Now I know what you are thinking? "Did she say AMC?" This definitely seems like the kind of thing you are more likely to find on one of Discovery stations, or maybe Spike TV, or Bravo, or some other reality flooded-network. But with successes like Mad Men and The Walking Dead under their belt, it looks like the suits at AMC wanted to get more into cheaply produced lighter fare. And since the show is paired with The Walking Dead, it makes sense that it would attract the same demographic. You know, people like me. That is, big old nerds with nothing better to do then sit around and watch people talk about comics and related merchandise.

Just a bunch of dudes sitting around talking about comics. And life. And....well, that's it really.

The show is kind of a combination of Pawn Stars and Ace of Cakes.  Each hour long episode has instances sprinkled throughout where random people come into the shop and try to sell their comic or fandom-related merchandise. Usually, the comic book men quickly disabuse them of the assumption that their old crap is valuable, but occasionally something truly rare comes across the threshold.

Since it's hard to fill an hour of television with this kind of thing, each episode also has a loose "plot." Something akin to "the comic book men hit the road for a local comics convention at an Elk Lodge and hilarity ensues." Or "one of the guys comes up with an idea to have a zombie-themed sale in the shop and hilarity ensues." Rest assured, nothing will ever go according to plan and hilarity will ensue.  And, in an interesting twist on the reality show staple of commentary interviews, these guys actually sit around telling Kevin Smith about what is going on in the store as part of a podcast recording. It has a little more spontaneity to it, and allows Kevin Smith to be involved in each episode. Since you know, he is a big star and all and can't sit around the comic book shop all day.

The show is fun, the guys are entertaining, and it's really interesting seeing all the wacky and unusual stuff that comes through the door for sale. The overall plots are a bit less successful, and the merchandise selling sections are definitely the best part of the show. I don't think it's fair to call it unscripted, since it's clear there is a lot of set up here, but at the end of the day who cares. It's a show for geeks made by geeks, and that's enough to keep me happy.

....and now you will have nightmares for the next week. Seriously: DO NOT WANT.

Comic Book Men just finished its first season on AMC--but you can catch episodes in rerun, through iTunes, or on On Demand through your cable provider. Those without cable who don't want to pay, you are out of luck.

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