Feb 17, 2012

Hey, That's My Cape! – COMIC BOOK MEN Revisited

It's safe to say a certain level of controversy was created after I wrote about a preview commercial for the new AMC show, Comic Book Men. In my column a few weeks ago I mentioned I was disappointed in Kevin Smith for taking the show in a direction that sounded as if it was excluding women, if in no other way but the title. So how do I feel now that I’ve watched the first episode? Yup, still disappointed.

Even though Smith is technically just a participant, AMC approached him to do the show and he's obviously the big name draw they needed to get viewers. Not to mention the one people will look to for its failure or success. Smith tweeted he only saw a few negative tweets out of thousands after the episode aired. Well, sure, that's because people that didn't like it either didn't feel it was worth the time to be negative or offensive to someone they don’t know (what a novel concept!), or didn't watch in the first place because they were so turned off.

Head over to Newsarama for this week's Hey, That's My Cape! where I give my review of the first episode of Comic Book Men.

14 comments:

We the people... said...

Kevin Smith is... Well, my Momma said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Kate said...

I admit, I didn't watch it because it had no women.

Jennie Whitwood said...

While watching that conversation about female characters I actually said 'After everything that has been said about this programme, is this really the conversation they are starting with?'
I just felt there wasn't enough about comic books, they were pretty mean to all the patrons fratured and that mostly I could have just watched 'The Simpsons' for a similar portrayal of comic book readers.

I'm not saying they need to tick all the boxes, but I couldn't identify with anyone on that programme...

BDS said...

Sounds like something if it hits Hulu I will skip. I went to a comicbook store that had a woman who was a partner in the business and she was the one I always liked talking with. She had the best attitude towards everyone that entered the store. So, I can understand the misconception being shown, but it is about the money and making sure to show people in humiliating and terrible instances.

Jill, where is the Google + like button on Newsarama and here? I wanted to +1 your column but couldn't.

Loyal V said...

Kevin Smith has supported inclusiveness in comics and in general in other projects, and I don't think this is indicative of some latent sexism. But I'm also a big fan.

I think the lack of a female perspective in the show (aside from the practical matter of the employees all being male) is more of a symptom of the larger regressive attitude in the show. They show current comics in the background (Walking Dead, Chew) but the main focus of the show was buying the goofy old kitch that often holds comics back. There's no discussion of what's new and cool.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Hmm, not sure BDS, guess they haven't updated to add that yet.

Rich W. said...

*Long post but I hope you hear me out :)

Okay, so the pilot wasn't very funny. Let's get that out of the way.

That being said, I can't think of a single television show of any genre that has peaked in pilot. Many adjust their direction and find their footing as the show goes on.

I'm a huge fan(atic) of Tell 'em Steve-Dave! and Kevin Smith but I can see a lot of flaws in the pilot and was let down by the staged feel and lack of charisma from guys who I know have it in them.

As you already know, these guys have been friends forever and didn't want any women in the store because it wouldn't feel right to them. There is no women in their circle that fits their personalities and senses of humor. Fair enough, I think. I'm sure the boys will get their stride and this show will reach past comic book fans because I am not one myself. I couldn't care less about the stuff people bring in, I love the dynamic these guys have and how they just bust each others balls.

I would like to think that you, being involved with the internet as much as you are, know that it IS a novel concept for people to not voice their opinion and be antagonistic to people they don't know. You just described the internet in a nutshell, and the CBM have gotten their fair share in the past week. Kevin Smith is a very strange man who thinks he can create his own reality and that his philosophy is sound no matter what chinks are made in his armor. He just stands resolute and creates the world he prefers to live in and I don't really know what to say about him. Everything he says will be positive about his shit because he LOVES being popular and making money. This opinion is coming from someone who owns most of his movies on DVD and subscribes to his podcast and follows him on twitter.

You posited than involving a woman would add a different perspective to the show but in this show there are no perspectives. There is nothing for the folks at home to take to the Monday morning water cooler. A female in the Stash would not have added insight, it would have just pissed Walt off and dragged the show down because of it. He is a curmudgeonly man with a certain psychosis that generates his unique humor.

I see this show as comedy first, comic books second. That is the fiscally-responsible route to take. Including the ribbing and Bryan Johnson makes sure that people don't feel excluded because they don't have a favorite Catwoman. If not having a woman in the cast narrows the viewership, then you probably hated those Apple vs. Mac commercials with Hodgeman and Justin Long huh? No women! What do they think, women don't use computers?! Are there women in Pawn Stars? Then they must have narrowed their already narrow "pawn enthusiast" demographic huh? Pawn shops scare me and I watch the show all the time and they're over 5 million viewers like clockwork. A lot of pawn store fans out there, am I right?

Of course I'm not. T.V. is not that black and white. People like shit because they find something to enjoy and some even reserve judgment until after two or three episodes!

To summarize, they can be dicks. They don't like criticism because they think they know better, and maybe they do. They block people on twitter and tell them not to listen to their podcast all the time. They just don't want negativity around them and they handle it the way they want. Of course it isn't democratic or in their show's best interest, but they don't care.

There is no reason for you to turn people against a show before it has been given a chance to find its footing just like it isn't fair for them to lash out at every negative comment (constructive or not).

I just wish people would let the show stand on its own without having bloggers and the like think for them. I hope people continue to tune in, but if they don't? More power to them and God Bless them.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Rich, thanks for taking the time to comment and thanks for doing so respectfully and thoughtfully.

I take issue with one thing you said. I didn't intend to turn anyone against the show. I set out to do what I always do in my column, and a lot of my other writing, which is to give my opinion. It was a fairly negative opinion on the show yes, but I always expect people to judge for themselves and they usually do. Though in this case I think a lot were pre-disposed to not watch before I wrote anything anyway. But you have to remember, it's my job to give my opinion about things in the comic book world. In this case, I really did have hope that i would like the show but I didn't and I gave an honest telling of my thoughts.

If I did turn people against the show, it may have been more a result of the personal remarks they made about me, which I highlighted, rather than the content of the show itself. That was something I was not willing to let pass because it was so unfortunate. I would have loved to really have a conversation but they resorted to personal attacks.

Rich W. said...

I would have loved that, too! It seems that they think that if they admit to the pilot being anything but perfect, it would deter viewers. They're too proud and aren't nearly as polished as Kevin. I wish he would pull them aside, or maybe even ban them from responding negatively to any reviews or comments about the show. They've read out at least three negative reviews on their podcast. They read out that the first ten minutes were slow and they were. That the situations seemed staged and they did. That they weren't particularly likable and they weren't. Regardless of their insults to the reviewers intelligence, those things still reached their fans and planted those ideas in their heads.

They have a lot of growing up to do in the world of television and everything that comes with having your own show. I think that most of the negativity directed towards you (and those of the same opinion), by them and their followers, are generated by repressed disappointment that the pilot just wasn't that good and, considering the lead-in, neither were the numbers.

Sometimes I find myself thankful that they are being so childish under the Tell 'em Steve-Dave! name rather than the Comic Book Men name so that they don't turn off more potential viewers. I don't see the cast of established shows lashing out at bad reviews or individual twitter comments and I wish Bry and Walt would understand that and just enjoy the ride and try to improve. Instead, they say "Fuck 'em" in hopes that the insultee doesn't have a Nielsen box. That attitude, like the pilot, is amateurish at best, but perhaps the boys aren't 100% to blame. They just did what they were told, contrary to the line they're giving the fans. I didn't see the first however-many-episodes of Pawn Stars, but I hope they started out as poorly.

I think that most fans of the guys could be as negative as I'm being here but are more interested in being in their favor and getting retweeted. I'll definitely be watching for the foreseeable future and rooting for their success every step of the way. Hopefully, that will give them more time to improve and find their footing.

gwen said...

i have to say i wanted to hate the show after i read your review, but...i love it! as a woman who doesnt read comics (my husband does) i enjoyed watching the friendship that these guys have! bringing a woman into that dynamic would be awkward at best. its comic books for god sake! let guys be guys and talk about what comic books chicks they want to f**ck!

Brian Jackson said...

I didn't really care for the show. I'm going to give it a chance but so far, I'm not impressed just yet.

Tim said...

I read your story on Comic Book Men and totally agree with you. I've been reading comics for 40 of my 51 years. You wrote exactly what I was thinking as I watched the first episode. I actually cringed at the sexual comments. On the second episode, I admit to only watching 10 minutes of, the conversation turned to masturbation and I turned the channel immediately. I'm male, the show not representing females did not bother me as most shops that I have been have a 10% to 20% female clientele. However I do think some female input, maybe a girlfriend, wife or subscriber would be a great addition for their views. Where are the customers? I get the impression as Mike stated that they pay out more money than they bring in. Why not show Wednesdays and talk to some customers? That's all I've got. Thank you for writing a great article on a just okay show. Tim

Unknown said...

I watched it.

Your criticism highlights the problem with the comic book industry and fandom—it's become insular, very insular.

The direct sales market and post-Watchmen era of comics has helped create a whole bunch of comic books that are essentially about comic books. Darwyn Cooke recently said that too many comic book writers have grown up reading comic books and nothing else. Direct sales and dense story arcs make it more difficult for the casual fan to pick up a book and be entertained. So you have an aging fandom (most comic book fans are ike me - male and in their late 30s or early 40s). And Comic Book Men unfortunately reflects this situation.

It's a missed opportunity. Before the new 52, Bat-Girl was one of DC's best selling titles. And there are more women and european artists working for for the majors, so it's tough to see a show with AMC's backing reinforce some of the worst parts of both the industry and the fandom.

Maybe you should start a podcast about comics with your female friends to give another viewpoint?

Hybrow said...

I really enjoyed the show and enjoyed the dialog between the guys while in the podcast studio. I read your articles on Newsarama, to me it sounds like someone who is just upset that she didn't make the show.

Even Zoë doesn't across as as quite so bitter. Maybe its cause she was "seriously considered to be in the running in the first place". Filming cost money, and it they hadn't dug her in the first place, they wouldn't have invested all the time and work shooting with her.

Whatev though, I have still watched, and so has my GF who is not a Comic Book Fan.