February 20, 2012


Simply from a scheduling perspective, Comic Book Men seems like an obvious winner. Scheduled immediately after AMC's Walking Dead (a show which I'm positively neutral about - the premise is intriguing, but the execution just doesn't grab me), having an "unscripted" focus on a comic book shop might be a nice, pleasant way to finish a Sunday night. Or, at the very least, be like Clerks in a comic shop.

Unfortunately (and you'll hear more details in the Zone 4 episode to be uploaded on Friday), except for 10 to 15 minutes (focusing on determining the worth of collectibles), I found the show to be....well, bland. However, there's been a lot of controversy about the show and, well, the televised behavior of its participants. From Comic Related to other related sites, there's been innumerable talk - and argument - about the show.

In an effort to help encourage thoughtful debate, here are the main arguments for the show, and my witty, considerate rebuttals to those arguments.

  • You're not being fair - you need to hear their podcast in order to "get" them - If this were a multi-arc show like, say, Lost, I would agree. This is a six week limited series; you need to hit it out of the ballpark with the first episode, especially since none of the cast except the guy who looks like the Unabomber has anything remarkable about them. (And the Unabomber guy might want to learn a little something about showing respect online)
  • It's not bad - it's just slow in places; it will improve as it goes on, so why not give it a chance? - I will admit, I did like the moments when they were determining the worth of various collectibles (and as someone who has never seen Pawn Wars...but none of the regular cast, even with Smith present, seemed to have any distinctive personality. (It didn't help that they were rather snarky in tone when discussing people as they left. Yes, it happens, but it doesn't bode well as a public presentation of comics fans in general)
  • You're just jealous because they have a show and you don't - Right, because I've spent my entire life developing advanced skills so my life could be videotaped, broadcast, and criticized by producers, directors, television critics, and discussed in the same breath as someone named "Snooki". Yes, I am being sarcastic, but quite honestly - I am a podcaster. I work with two guys who have a lot more personality than the Comic Book Men. We deserve better.
  • You're living the cliche - the nerd who openly criticizes his fellow nerds: Actually, no, my life is not a cliche - most of the "nerds" I know are intelligent, well-spoken, and respectful, working in a variety of fields. Shows like Comic Book Men reveal a large segment - the nerd who isn't a "high tech" nerd, but the kind of guy who criticizes the families of comic creators for being "greedy" when suing companies. They never met a Marvel or DC press release they didn't like. They'll deride other fandoms or fan activities in an obvious effort to seem "cool". I would argue that not only is criticizing them not a cliche, but is the mandate of every commentor who has a stake in "nerd culture".
I have hung out at comic shops - I know the insanity that sometimes happens, the weird conversations. I've seen a guy in a Star Trek uniform approach the counter and ask - with a straight face - if he could work there, and announce that he was willing to be paid under the table. I've had conversations with women about cool action comics. I've hung out with a variety of cool people....but Comic Book Men doesn't capture that. It's more of a network or marketing executive's idea of what appeals to "nerd culture" than an honest appreciation.

And to answer your question - no, I didn't watch last night. I'm actually quite glad, because unlike many of my comic fans, I find it easier to drop something I dislike than rant about it online. And something tells me we won't be seeing a season two of this show any time soon.

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