I was going to keep to myself about the show “Comic Book Men” – the new “reality series” from AMC that takes place in Kevin Smith’s “Secret Stash” comic shop – since it seemed like so many other folks were taking shots at them. First you had Comics Alliance with a less-than-complimentary review, followed by one of my “Top Geek Girls of 2011” Jill Pantozzi, who chimed in and gave what I felt was a fairly articulate and reasoned review. Add to that the guys over at WIRED Magazine and The Huffington Post and you’ve got quite a few voices out there expressing their displeasure over how the comic shop experience is being portrayed.
(For those looking for an alternative to Comic Book Men, I say check out The Variants.)
I myself found Comic Book Men to be paced too erratically, with too few laughs for an hour’s worth of television time. Maybe a half an hour would work best? Regardless, I found most of the characters – with the exception of Ming – to be rather unlikeable and off-putting. Especially Bryan Johnson, the bearded guy who spends most his day just hanging out at the shop like a homeless person that you don’t have the heart to kick out.
So anyway, outside of the bubble that Smith and Co. have themselves in when it comes to dealing with the world in general, comic fans were none too happy. And they were letting their voices be heard. Which I guess would explain why “Comic Book Men” cast member Bryan Johnson was a bit prickly when he responded indirectly to Pantozzi’s review on Twitter:
See, it’s this kind of infantile behavior that makes the rest of the comic-book reading world look like a bunch of knuckle-dragging primates. And it also shows that when it comes to taking shots at people – as the cast did on a few occasions on the show – the “Comic Book Men” cast is of the “dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it” variety.
When you’re in the limelight, when you’re on a show that is getting pushed by a major cable network to try and attract a particular audience, it doesn’t help your cause when you tell people in that audience to essentially “f**k off.” Of course, when you’re part of Kevin Smith’s entourage you’re going to have your share of adoration showered on you, as evidenced by the fervent defense that many of Smith’s followers will mount on message boards across the internet. The comics industry has embraced the ‘cult of personality’ that all the other forms of entertainment have engendered, and there are plenty of sycophants trolling the boards ready to flame you if you criticize their favorite comics personality/writer/artist/etc. So it would behoove the likes of Mr. Johnson to elevate the dialogue and set an example for their followers if we ever expect the mainstream media to think of comic book readers as nothing more than a bizarre sub-culture comprised of immature adults who do little more than fantasize about which characters they’d like to have sex with.
What’s wrong with saying: “Hey, we understand you didn’t like the show, but we’re new at this and we’re still figuring things out. We hope you’ll give us a chance to find what works”? Is it really that hard to insert a bit of civility in the public discourse? Sheesh.
The question I have for Mr. Johnson is what would he say to current WWE Champion CM Punk who is a big comic-book fan and had this to say about the show:
I would pay good money to see Johnson tell Punk to “f**k off.”
UPDATE: After reading my post, Mr. Johnson was so kind as to Tweet it to his followers with the following message:
So…in the interests of “doing my homework” as Mr. Johnson suggested I went back through his Twitter feed and found his response to CM Punk:
So…a geek gal he says “f**k her” but for CM Punk he says “that is the definition of irony.” Anybody else notice a change in tone here?
Anyway, I thank Mr. Johnson for sharing my article AND proving my point.
I wish him and the rest of the “Comic Book Men” cast the best of luck in the coming season…especially Ming.