Kevin Smith inspires a reaction. As he noted when we spoke with him on the opening morning of New York Comic Con in early October, he’s been around for a quarter century and he’s been through the process of getting lifted up and lit up by critics and audiences. But despite it all, Smith is still standing and still creating.
We spoke with Smith about his evolving relationship with criticism, his efforts to make geek culture feel like a positive force, when its time to get out of the way in the name of sparking more diversity in Hollywood, and why he absolutely isn’t going to abide people saying that he’s given up.
How does Comic Book Men reflect the good of geek culture and what do you feel your responsibility is as a producer of that show, but also as an artist, as a father, as a creator to kind of make geek culture feel positive and feel open to women?
I remember season one of the show, because the title was Comic Book Men, we got tagged a bunch by people being like, “Where are the women? Women like comic books.” The title… we didn’t even come up with [it], AMC gave it to us as a kind of spin on Mad Men, and they told us like, “We like the term Comic Book Men as a title.” It was called The Secret Stash all while we were making [season one], which was a little more gender neutral and kind of more inviting, but Comic Book Men was an ode to a show that doesn’t exist anymore. But, you know, it’s the title we live with.
The title kind of reflects the staff. That’s what the staff is at the Secret Stash and has been for, well almost 20 years at this point. It’s certainly not like a boys club, exclusive by any stretch of the imagination. But the show is not really about the comic book store, it’s about four friends that kind of hang out and they happen to work in that field.
It’s nice that this deep into the discussion people have stopped saying that. Like, “Where are the women?” Like you know at one point we tried to make a show called Comic Book Women. AMC didn’t want to go for it. So, you know, you can only do so much. You know, we don’t own those words, “comic book,” or “women,” so anybody can make that show and stuff. This show, you know that title will always kind of haunt us a bit, but what can I say, it wasn’t my title.
In terms of our place in geek culture or whatnot, it tends to be a positive show anyway because it’s not rooted in the present. This is a nostalgic show. It’s very sentimental. It took me years to realize that, but this show has almost nothing to do with the current climate of comic books.