Last week there was some hullaballoo over Kevin Smith‘s new reality series “Comic Book Men” which is to premiere on AMC next month. Reportedly, the show was to feature the employees of Smith’s “Secret Stash” comic shop in Red Bank, NJ, but there were also auditions for additional roles. It just so happened that a couple ladies who are well-known in comics media auditioned. And reportedly one of the gals who auditioned was told that she was “perfect” for the role by Kevin Smith himself, only to later find out that it had been cut from the first season.
Understandably, this ruffled a few fangirl feathers. The stereotypical image of the comic shop as a ‘guys only zone’ has been one that has cemented itself in the mind of the mainstream culture. And it oft times offends female comic book fans to apparently see it reinforced by someone like Kevin Smith, considered by many as a “name” in the industry. (I say “apparently” because it’s more likely that the call to cut the role was made by AMC and not Smith.)
Then again, Smith didn’t help his case any when he was confronted on Twitter and replied:
Seeing this exchange got me to wondering if there already wasn’t a show out there that took place in a comic shop but also included women. I mean, there are plenty of comic shops with gals working in them, so there just had to be a show that reflected that… right?
Enter The Variants, a comedic web-series that predates “Comic Book Men”, takes place in a comic shop and features a gal in one of the lead roles:
And if you would bring into question the “star power” of this little web gem, check out this episode which guest-stars none other than fanboy favorite comic book writer Mark Waid (true DC Comics nerds will get a real laugh from the “hypertime” reference):
So here’s the way I look at it: If there’s something going on in media that you don’t like, that you think needs to change, don’t support it. But also seek out and support those shows that are closer to what you’d like to see produced. If a show like The Variants turns into a hit, the mainstream media will take notice and give it more exposure. It may very well get developed for television. At the very least, networks will try to emulate its formula which would result in the idea of a gal working in a comic shop being more common. And isn’t that what we all wanted anyway?
As for “Comic Book Men“, I’ll be reserving judgement and giving it a try. Until then, there’s a pretty fun show out there that seems to fit the bill when it comes to giving girls in comic shops some equal representation.
What do you think?