Kevin Smith wasn’t anxious to get back into television. After all, his last “disastrous foray into TV” was an animated series based on his movie “Clerks” in 2000.
“We only made six episodes and ABC only aired two,” he shrugged.
So he mostly thought he wasn’t simpatico with television. But then producer Charlie Corwin of Original Media called. AMC wanted something to go with its most popular series, “The Walking Dead” that would appeal with its large comic-savvy audience.
Smith said he told him “if if you were going to do anything, you should do a reality short set in a comic book store because everybody knows comic book culture now.”
Much of that is due to the character on “The Simpsons,” Comic Book Guy, who in fact would be right at home in the resulting “Comic Book Men.”
“The stereotype has traveled,” Smith says of Comic Book Guy. “You don’t have to explain it to people anymore. They get it.”
But he had a little twist for his own show set in a comic book store.
“I said, ‘Let’s do “Pawn Stars” in a comic book store,’” Smith says.
Except while “Pawn Stores” is more like “Antiques Road Show” in that it features a lot of items “and you’re interested in one or two items.
“Every once in a while they show a comic book or they show a toy, and you’re like, ‘Oh man, I wish every episode was that,’” Smith says. “So the idea was like make a show that’s kind of like where you take Crunchberries and you remove the Captain Crunch and just have a bowl full of the berries. Everything is just comic books.”
That’s pretty much what “Comic Book Men,” which premiered Sunday, behind another record breaking “Walking Dead,” is all about, strring the big personalities and oddballs who populate his own comic book shop in Red Bank, N.J., Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.
While the group bickers over comic lore and buying vintage toys, the show overall elevates the art form of comics.
“What I’ve always liked about them is one of the only pure American art forms,” Smith says. “We invented the comic book in our country. I mean, we didn’t invent the illustration, but we invented ‘All in color for a dime.’
“So it’s one of the things like jazz that Americans can actually claim for their own; that didn’t come from some other place. “I just dig it, though, because it’s escape,” he says of comics. “It’s like reading, but it’s reading lite. You know what I’m saying? It’s reading with pictures, and we all like that. It’s like going to Denny’s. You don’t just read a menu, you look at the things. Same thing here, read the stories, look at the pictures, graphics, it takes you back to kind of our beginning as storytellers. They found those scrawlings, pictographs on cave walls and stuff. So apparently we were telling stories with pictures even before we formed words and whatnot. So it’s a tradition that’s been around for a long, long time. And plus, it’s just fun. It’s easy. And look, it’s great.”
“Comic Book Men” runs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC.