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“Never in a million years did I imagine I’d have my friends on TV.” So said an animated Kevin Smith, draped in his signature blue and orange hockey jersey. The indie filmmaker has long featured characters inspired by his pals in movies such “Clerks” and “Mallrats.” Now he is getting the real versions on camera for his new AMC reality series, “Comic Book Men.”
“They didn’t even want to be on TV,” Smith said. “They’re all worried about being the next Snooki or that they’ll be asked to appear on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ down the line.”
“Comic Book Men” is set to launch Feb. 12 in a slot after “The Walking Dead,” AMC’s ratings blockbuster. While promoting the show at the recent Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, Smith offered lengthy proclamations about how “super stoked” he was for the show’s upcoming premiere — so stoked that his use of colorful, not-fit-for-print language made for a tricky situation.
The six-episode series is set in Smith’s real-life comic book store — Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank, N.J. — which he’s owned since 1997. It features his pals, real-life comic book nerds Walter (the shop manager and the inspiration for Brodie in “Mallrats”), Bryan (the resident slacker and inspiration for Randall in “Clerks”), Mike (the “super nerd”) and Ming (the “whipping boy”). Podcasting helps shape the storytelling as the guys sit around a table, filling in Smith on what’s been happening in the store.
“In most reality shows there’s a lot of confessionals, like, “I was mad at this [...] for eating my peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich,” Smith said. But the podcast enables them to discuss potential transactions — “Like trying to sell the ‘Six Million Dollar Man.’ And it’s oddly compelling. You find yourself yelling at the screen and saying, ‘$75 is too much!’ It’s like ‘Antiques Roadshow’…”