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Review: AMC's Comic Book Men

Is AMC's new reality show Comic Book Men, about the employees of a comic show in New Jersey, a hit or flop?

Reality television covers every facet of American life: dating, relationships, addition, work, and jousting (thanks History Channel). It was only a matter of time before reality television clashed with the world of comic books and comic book retail. AMC's new television show Comic Book Men is about the well known comic book shop Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in New Jersey, which is owned by film maker Kevin Smith and run by his friends.

The formula for this show is quite simple take Pawn Stars' format, but make it a one hour episode instead of thirty minutes, add in a Kevin Smith podcast, and sprinkle a bit of comic book geekdom on top and you have Comic Book Men. The show consists of three different sections. The characters on this show, Walt (most memorable as "Fanboy" from Mallrats. "Tell em' Steve-Dave!"), who runs the store, Bryan, who doesn't work there but is always hanging out (Steve-Dave from Mallrats), Mike, an employee, and Ming, who is more or less the whipping-post of the store.

Kevin and Ming ponder the important things in life, like why Bryan is always at the store.

The opening of the episode features Walt, Bryan, Mike, and Ming hanging out in the store and talking about how Batman found Robin and which comic book female is one they'd like to hook up with. This jumps over to the Comic Book Men Podcast hosted by Kevin Smith where they talk about the event they were talking about in the store.

Customers also walk into the store and much like Pawn Stars try to sell items to the Secret Stash for an inflated price. And yes, on occasion, Walt has to call in an expert. The third element to this show is the extra wackiness from the store. In this first episode, Walt sends Bryan, Ming, and Mike out to sell a bunch of not-so-great comic related merchandise at a local flea market, and have a friendly competition to see who can make the most money and get rid of all their product. Spoiler: Ming wins because he's an under-appreciated workhorse, at least according to this first episode.

The Verdict

It's really tough to judge a show off it's pilot episode because everything is being established for the first time: characters, story, location, plot, etc, even for a reality television show. I am a HUGE Kevin Smith fan, a HUGE podcast fan (especially SIR), a HUGE comic book fan, and a HUGE crazy customer fan, so this show should have everything I like, right? Well, it's a bit trickier than that.

This show is all over the place, it's too many different formats stuffed into one show. While I liked the more Pawn Star elements of the show, and I like the podcast element, I felt like they really didn't work well together. There wasn't a good mesh.

I've met Bryan, Walt, and Kevin before, and they were all great guys, but man, I loved Bryan on this show. I mean, look at his beard. Bryan's beard is epic.

Bryan discusses the perfect way to eat an apple, with anger.

He's Alan Moore-esque, minus the hermit like tendencies. He was by far the most interesting aspect of the show for me. He is at this comic book store everyday, yet he doesn't work there. He just hangs out. Some of the most comical moments came from him, like when he smashes a plate from Ming's table at the flea market and a man comes up to him and says "You don't do that to those people!" Those people? Bryan proceeds to apologize.

As a person who works in a comic book store, I've always gotten a laugh at what people think their items are worth, and the anger they display when I explain to them it's not worth as much as they think. Key example is a woman who brings in a Chucky doll and wants to sell it for hundreds of dollars, around $400 I believe. The thing is worth $50, at best, and she can't realize that her sentimental attachment with the item has no real monetary value. However, we also get to see some really cool objects, like a 1970 Thor poster drawn by Jack Kirby.

Walt comes off as a bit of a jerk, and not in the lovable jerk way that Bryan seemed like. Walt feels a bit more malicious and a guy who doesn't like the public or his employees. Maybe it's just the way the show portrayed him, but he is not likable, which stinks since he's the lead of the show. Maybe I'm just a bit bummed to see how everyone treats Ming. Or maybe I'm just reading way too much into his facial expressions.

There's already a bit of commotion on the intrawebs about the opening of the show, with the men talking about which female super-hero they'd get with. Lots of people are mad that it makes the comic book fan community look like lonely, pathetic dorks, and conversations like that don't happen in the real world. I disagree completely. Customers have tried to engage me in conversations like that numerous times. I usually just change the subject. These are things that people in comic book shops talk about. The variety of conversations is immense. It could be Tony Moore's work on THE WALKING DEAD one minute, then Aqualad's outfit the next.

The biggest disappointment, by far, is the jumping over to the podcast format to talk about what's already going on. It seems like just a good way to incorporate Kevin Smith into each episode, which normally, I'd like, but I'm a SModcast fan, and this is like a G-rated version of that podcast, stripped down, and no where near as fun. It serves no purpose, and it hinders the show.

Final Judgement!

Walt discusses the finer points of pointing

Overall, and this is going to sound like a lame cop-out, I kinda liked the show. I didn't hate it like so many fanboys are saying on the net because it isn't a correct portrayal of geek-culture. It's reality television. It's over-exaggerated television based on real events, and to be honest, this show comes closer to real life than many of its reality-tv counter-parts, but that's not the problem with the show.

The problem with this show is that there's too much going on. Sure, it's going to be hit or miss with most comic book fans, but I think overall the mainstream television viewers are going to be confused with everything.

This show would work so much better if it got rid of the whole podcast element to it, and it pains me to say that, but it's the number one problem with the show. All the podcast element of the show does is explains what's already happening. We get to see/hear the same event on the show twice. Why bother? Again, this is a pilot episode, so it's hard to judge, since it may not have found it's stride yet.

There's no doubt I'm going to watch next week and the week after. I enjoyed the show. A little formatting problem isn't going to keep me away, but that's how big of a Kevin Smith and company fanboy I am. To the rest of you, I'd say check it out and see what you think. It's free (if you have cable), and if you don't mind fast-forwarding through the podcast part of the show, you'll probably enjoy it. Just download Smodcast or Jay and Silent Bob Get Old instead and listen to it after each episode.

However, with the added element of the podcast, this brings the rating down.

This episode of Comic Book Men gets 2 1/2 Angry Bryan Faces out of 5.

Did you guys see the episode? What did you think?

72 Comments
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Posted by JangoCrossfire

I thought the show was terrible. I loathe Kevin Smith though. I guess I can't be too picky --- it's a show where they talk about comic books. On TV!

Posted by stormtrance1618

I did NOT like the Pawn Stars type segments. Seem to staged to me. I'd rather just see them working and interacting with regular comic buyers. And LESS Kevin Smith! I enjoyed the show... but I'd rather see them just be in the comic shop being themselves and the podcast discussions.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Unfortunately for me the show's only saving grace was Kevin Smith. Other than that, the fanboy chatter between the various employees and the stark similarities this show bears to Pawn Stars and American Pickers is exactly what I didn't want the show to be. I'll give it one more chance next weekend, but if its the same silly sophomoric banter that I saw in this one, I'm out.

Edited by NightFang

I forgot too watch this last night.

Posted by inferiorego

@stormtrance1618 said:

I did NOT like the Pawn Stars type segments. Seem to staged to me.

Completely agree, but so many of those shows are staged themselves, so I let it pass.

Edited by Hot_Karl

I really want to like this show (I've never seen it, but I'm a HUGE Kevin Smith fan, so I'm already familiar with Bryan & Walt a ton), but some of the more show business-y stuff got in the way of me giving it a chance. I heard they auditioned people for the show, and apparently there was going to be a girl joining the crew (EDIT: apparently it was Zoe Gulliksen/ @bookishbelle who got the part who probably would've been fantastic in the role, but still), but then they dropped her for reasons that weren't particularly disclosed to the public. It also just seems like it's a bunch of different shows in one- a Pawn Stars/Antiques Roadshow type where people bring in their items and see how much they can get for them, a weird reality comedy about geek culture, and just a normal reality show about working at a comic book shop & the people you'll interact with there.

I'm still interested in watching it...I'm 99% sure that I'll probably just watch the entire thing because I've seen just about everything that Smith has worked on in some capacity, but I kinda wish they just stuck to one angle and went from there. Also, the open audition thing...kinda shady, but that's the reality TV business for ya.

Posted by Iron Apollo

I really enjoyed it! It does need some format tweaks as you said, they could maybe only have the podcast element to open and close the episodes instead of throughout. I would also like to see more of the day to day antics that go on in the store. They talk alot about them on the "tell 'em Steve Dave" and "i sell comics" podcasts. Both podcasts also talk alot about how Ming becomes a stand out character on the show, so I'm not worried about him for now. I'm definately looking forward to more episodes and I think they will get alot of viewer ship from sir fans besides some comic books fans.

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

I did not get the chance to see it yet ,but I will give the first episode a try

Posted by EnSabac

I didn't mind the show but it felt like there was too much going on and it was difficult to follow the show and what was happening. I'm sure they will be able to pick it up and get in the groove with it. Maybe drop the podcast part of the show, sitting around talking into microphones isn't all that entertaining and it seemed to cut into the flow of he program.

Posted by Namor1987

I liked it. I didn't know who the hell Kevin Smith was or why he was relevant but some of that of stuff was for television only. Plus everything is scripted lol. The news is scripted so I was entertained by this show.

Posted by zombietag

i didnt like this show at all. as you said, its not a very accurate depiction of comic book people, which would be near impossible to really do, but still this was like too much. like all of us are older creepy guys who dont have any friends besides other people that read comics and get a kick out of skimpy super-girls.

and it was boring! not to mention how much of it just seemed scripted and overproduced, and too much mimicing of pawn stars and pickers. im definitely out, after the walking dead preview passed i turned it off.

Posted by stormtrance1618

@inferiorego: Yeah, I agree. That's why I don't watch them... well that, and they mostly suck, lol.

Posted by stormtrance1618

@JangoCrossfire: Yeah, they need to actually talk about the comics more.

Posted by The Stegman

i saw it...it's decent, not fantastic, but to be fair, almost all pilot episodes are sub par...i need to watch more to give a good opinion 

Posted by Zomboid

I didn't think it was bad. I liked the Pawn Stars sort of stuff, but I feel it shouldn't only be that. That's pretty much all that they showed within the store itself. They should show more regular interactions between customers and the staff in the store. And I didn't think that the podcast bit was all that bad.

Posted by thanosrules

Thanks for the great review! It is on my DVR and I am excited to see what it is all about, regardless of current opinions. I hope it catches its stride quick, otherwise the six episode run will fail before it begins (if that is still how they plan on airing it).

Edited by Decept-O

For some reason it seems AMC aired this pilot episode before but perhaps I am confusing it with another show. Hard to say. Regardless, I agree, the formatting of the show was a bit off. Yet again I wouldn't necessarily want to watch these guys doing nothing but talking to each other on the Podcast. It is interesting Kevin Smith commented about Jack Kirby when he himself has said he hates Kirby's work, he didn't "get" Kirby's style. I remember that distinctly. Yet he managed not to mention it because obviously he is about promoting this show.

I agree somewhat about Walt but perhaps he isn't that big of a jerk, but it is hard to say. I was simply more enamored with the fact he was so enamored with the Six Million Dollar Man as I was, so it was a shared geek moment in the show for me.

It'd be great if the show focused on explaining some more of comic book stories, characters, and other concepts as they touched upon in this show, so non-comic book readers or those who aren't as familiar with comics will be able to understand more about the genre. Not in a condescending way but open and informative with passion.

Posted by IAmWarblade

i laughed a couple of times, i guess i'll watch it again. no more lame than most reality shoes that i don't watch.

Posted by WildStyle

@zombietag said:

i didnt like this show at all. as you said, its not a very accurate depiction of comic book people, which would be near impossible to really do, but still this was like too much. like all of us are older creepy guys who dont have any friends besides other people that read comics and get a kick out of skimpy super-girls.

and it was boring! not to mention how much of it just seemed scripted and overproduced, and too much mimicing of pawn stars and pickers. im definitely out, after the walking dead preview passed i turned it off.

This post made me lol but it's true. Cosign everything.

Posted by FinalDasa

As much as I don't like the idea of more reality TV shows, especially ones about things I like thus running the risk of harming the subject I enjoy so much, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth. They can't make the TV show every comic fan would want because only a few comic fans would watch it, this show has to be watchable by everyone.

So despite the obvious pawn star beats and possibly staged events, its a show where nerds act nerdy and discuss nerd things, so it gets my support.

Posted by dewboy01

This show's great, its even much better than pawn shop. Now we can discover all Old and new comics, posters, figures, dolls, and more!

Posted by pingclang

I honestly can't form an opinion on the thing. I watched it and enjoyed some things about it. My complaint is the way they treated Ming, it seemed forced, and to a point kind of cruel. I know every show has that one guy who the cast picks on all the time but this went from picking to straight up being a dick to the guy for no reason other than to be a dick. Still, I enjoyed it enough to give next weeks episode a try.

Posted by Ganthetsward20

I hate pawn stars and i felt like i was watching an off brand of that show, as soon as that stuff started happening I changed the channel :/

Posted by Superguy0009e

good show, found it hilarious.

Posted by Gambit1024

Dude, I go to Jay and Bob's Secret Stash all the time (it's my LCS) and I've never seen Bryan there like ever lol. And Ming is always treated like that (especially on the podcasts at smodcast.com), so that's not gonna change.

I think the show was fine, and that says a lot because I can't stand reality shows. While, I agree with this article about the podcast element of the show, I think it makes up for it with the actual podcast itself, found here. As long as they keep that up, I'll back the show up 100%.

Posted by BatClaw89

I. F**ING. HATE. Kevin Smith!!! I wish him a cruel death

Posted by TheWitchingHour

Well I'm watching the first 20 minutes right now and I've got to say I actually like it. It's not fantastic but it's enjoyable. Then again I'm not too familiar with Pawn Stars so I'm still open to that style of TV. I like the podcast part too but they need one more witty element besides Kevin Smith.

Posted by CrashLanden

I tuned in an hour early for The Walking Dead and got Comic Book Men. It didn't take long to realize that I didn't care for it. I didn't make it past where they were doing some silly bet at a flea market, but from the article it doesn't sound like it got any better. Here they have an opportunity to advertise for the comic book industry on a national television network and all it amounts to is navel gazing nerdity and Kevin Smith selling more Kevin Smith. Instead of looking at the art of comics, interviewing creators, looking at upcoming comic book related films, or any number of things that could have been positive, they stoop to the lowest common denominator... What 'comic book babe they'd get with'... mocking a customer... mocking the asian co-worker... being juvenile. Count me as one of those that sees this as portraying comic collectors as pathetic lonely dorks. It also took less than the 15 minutes that I watched to find that I didn't like most of the guys on the show (at least how they are portrayed through the editing). And Walt was the worst of the group.

Someone needs to bring back the Anti-Gravity room... or get the Comic Vine podcast a TV slot. I'd much rather watch the reviews of comics and people who love the stories and characters (even if I disagree), rather than the snide cynicism on display from Kevin Smith and co on banal subjects that just aren't worthy of a TV show.

Posted by goldenkey

They put in it what needed to put in it for non-comic book readers to watch it. A show that would just have friendly arguments on something like..........the best Robin.............would be boring. they have to put some of the stuff they put in to keep it going. plus it was hour long. People don't like it, don't watch it. I enjoyed it enough to come back to it.

Posted by zombietag

@WildStyle said:

@zombietag said:

i didnt like this show at all. as you said, its not a very accurate depiction of comic book people, which would be near impossible to really do, but still this was like too much. like all of us are older creepy guys who dont have any friends besides other people that read comics and get a kick out of skimpy super-girls.

and it was boring! not to mention how much of it just seemed scripted and overproduced, and too much mimicing of pawn stars and pickers. im definitely out, after the walking dead preview passed i turned it off.

This post made me lol but it's true. Cosign everything.

mhmmm.

@FinalDasa said:

As much as I don't like the idea of more reality TV shows, especially ones about things I like thus running the risk of harming the subject I enjoy so much, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth. They can't make the TV show every comic fan would want because only a few comic fans would watch it, this show has to be watchable by everyone.

So despite the obvious pawn star beats and possibly staged events, its a show where nerds act nerdy and discuss nerd things, so it gets my support.

not valid because i was watching it with a bunch of other people who came over to watch walking dead, almost none of them read comics. it was a unanimous dislike. so youre right, but i think this show is just bad period. on here there seems to be mixed reviews, but id be surprised if it does well at all.

Posted by FinalDasa

@zombietag: One group of people isn't everyone but I see your point. I'm just saying that his isn't something nerds get on TV all to often to attacking it after one episode isn't helping. If it's either this or more Big Bang Theory, I'd take this.

Posted by inferiorego

@BatClaw89 said:

I. F**ING. HATE. Kevin Smith!!! I wish him a cruel death

Why would you wish anyone to die, let alone a cruel death, just because you don't like them? Seems a tad much if you ask me.

Posted by jaredbright

I don't know how people find shows like those 'pawn shop' shows all that interesting. Atleast Antiques Roadshow doesn't act like they aren't. I just find most reality shows extremely boring, even for wasting time kind of stuff. So, I bet this show is no worse than that.

Atleast I got some comics to read when I have free time.

Posted by AlKusanagi

Yeah, but it's on the same time as JOUSTING!!!

Posted by spider-man 2996

Will this be playing in Ireland or the UK???

Posted by Donovan Montgomery

Even though it's Kevin Smith (who I'm almost over dis liking) I want to check this out......s'pose it youtube time for me :/

Posted by inferiorego

@AlKusanagi said:

Yeah, but it's on the same time as JOUSTING!!!

I thought I was drunk the first time I saw a commercial for that. I later came to my senses that it did indeed exist.

Posted by The Impersonator

@NightFang said:

I forgot too watch this last night.

Posted by RigorMortis

What if AMC instead made another Mad Men style drama about the comic book industry? It would be completely unfounded in fact but the idea of a character like Don Draper smoking, sipping whiskey, and pitching the newest arc of Batman is too awesome and hilarious to pass up.

Posted by sdunham818

I've watched worse shows, I like Kevin Smith and I could have cried when they sold the Colossus Statue for $8.00...$8.00!!!!!!!!

Online
Posted by Deranged Midget

It wasn't bad, I enjoyed it but they can do better and hopefully improve. I like the whole "Pawn Stars" theme to it.

Moderator
Posted by Mercy_

@inferiorego said:

Did you guys see the episode? What did you think?

MADE MY DAY.

Moderator
Posted by GalacticPunt

I don't have or want cable, so I looked up the cast on youtube. "Steve-Dave" has become a perfect fusion of Alan Moore and Dave Snider!

Posted by GLJedi

I thought the show was great. If you're a fan of Kevin Smith at all you'll love this show.

Posted by DoomDoomDoom

Perfect review and score. I like Kevin Smith and most of his work but I couldn't really get next to this episode.

Posted by wavecrest

@RigorMortis said:

What if AMC instead made another Mad Men style drama about the comic book industry? It would be completely unfounded in fact but the idea of a character like Don Draper smoking, sipping whiskey, and pitching the newest arc of Batman is too awesome and hilarious to pass up.

:) QFT

Posted by Zjd106

IF I want to watch pawn stars, I'll watch pawn stars.

I like the guys though, if they just kicked it around with some comic book readers i would probably watch once in awhile

Edited by BiteMe-Fanboy

Meh. I didn't like it. Might watch it every now and then if it keeps coming on after The Walking Dead. But I was hoping this show was going to actually talk about comic books, like new comics that came out, and whats going on in Marvel, Dc, etc. Instead it was just like a nerdy Pawn Stars. I give it a 2/5. The 2 only coming from it being a bit about comics. Kevin Smith is cool, and made some funny movies, but he is a whiny girl.

Posted by Mutant X

I enjoyed it. I think a lot of people are too damn picky and critical.

Posted by Hayamo

I love the people on here saying the show made comic book fans look like lonely old men/dorks even though they are constantly talking about their wives, girlfriends, and children.

Personally I liked the show. I'm a fan of Kevin Smith so having an excuse to put him on is something I liked, but I quickly grew fond of the main group and it probably helped knowing that this is Kevin Smith's posse so they aren't gonna be the ideal comic book fan that all the people here want them to be, they're gonna be like characters in a Kevin Smith movie.

I personally don't see what people are talking about when they say Walt comes off as a dick and Ming gets picked on too much. Walt didn't get enough screen time, in my opinion, to really be established as anything but the guy who runs the store and knows the most about this stuff. The stuff with Ming didn't feel any worse than any particular group of friends including my own.

This is getting long-winded but I have to say this. Just because the people on this show don't come off like normal people who just happen to read comic books doesn't mean its showing comic book fans or even geek culture in general in a bad light. Just because you're not the guy who talks about which super heroine you would want to get with doesn't mean those people don't exist. I highly doubt that they asked these guys to "nerd it up" because otherwise you get a product similar to Patton Oswalt's Super Nerds which was incredibly forced and put comic book fans in a much worse light in half an hour than this show did in a full one.

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