AMC is giving its viewers a peek inside the world of comic books with its newest unscripted series, Comic Book Men.
The network held a Q&A with media members on Tuesday afternoon at Caroline’s on Broadway in New York, featuring filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Red State, Dogma), an executive producer for the show and Charlie Corwin, another executive producer, and the cast.
The series stars the real-life employees of Smith’s comic book store in Red Bank, N.J., Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (referred to as “The Stash” by its patrons): Walt Flanagan, store manager; Michael Zapcic, assistant manager; Ming Chen, Website producer; and Bryan Johnson, who, while not an official employee, hangs behind the front counter daily.
“[The employees] are doing what they do,” said Corwin, who’s also the co-founder/CEO of Original Media, which produces reality series like History Channel’s Swamp People. “They’re just being themselves, whether they have cameras on them or not.”
“The show mixes the best of character-based storytelling,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s senior VP of original programming. “It would be a gross understatement to say the comic book world has been legitimized.”
“What this show really is, is Clerks meets Mallrats, the reality series,” said Smith.
Smith stated that while nothing in the show is staged, they did try to schedule potential sellers to come in at certain times. “If you’re rolling cameras in the store for two months, hoping that people come through the door to do transactions… you’ll burn a lot of film with nothing going on,” said Smith.
Comic Book Men, aside from filming scenes inside the store, will feature an exclusive podcast that will be used within the show as a framing device, according to Smith.
When asked if he would ever consider a crossover with another reality series that takes place in New Jersey, MTV’s Jersey Shore, Smith responded: “In a heartbeat.”
AMC will debut Comic Book Men out of the premiere of the second half of The Walking Dead’s — the net’s highest-rated series — second season on Sunday. Smith admitted that if the show fails, he can’t fault AMC. “If we don’t score there, we won’t score anywhere,” said Smith. “They are giving us every chance.”