Future Tense – Comic Book Men Backlash

We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense

Fans of Kevin Smith’s various podcasts have been hearing about a new show in development on AMC for a few months now. The show’s producers reached out to Smith for some input on some more comic-based programming thanks to the success of The Walking Dead. When the idea of a reality show in a comic shop was tossed out, the execs dug it. The plan was to find a store to shoot in, but once Smith suggested they shoot a test in his own store, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the powers that be knew their search was over. It makes sense. The cast of “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave” is the perfect fit for a show about life in a comic shop. There’s probably no cast of characters better than Walt, Bryan, Mike and Ming to deliver the type of show AMC was looking for. Listen to an episode of the podcast, and you’ll likely agree.

After store manager Walt Flanagan was convinced to do the show, The Secret Stash had a casting call for a female cast member over the summer. They found, according to Kevin Smith himself, “the perfect girl.” The pilot was shot and very well received, so much so that it was decided the show would debut after The Walking Dead when it returned from its mid-season break. Before it debuts, though, the show will have undergone two key changes from its original form. First, the female character has been removed from the pilot (and therefore the six-episode series). Second, the name of the show is now Comic Book Men. Oh, AMC… What have you done?

I’m sure the AMC execs didn’t think it was a big deal. It’s show business. Things get changed and moved around all the time. Characters are excised and combined. Plots are rewritten. Pilots can be reshot. Names can be changed. You can even have two Darrens and no one will even notice. What’s the harm in making some changes to this show before it ever goes on air? Google “Women in comics.” Not a single headline reads “It’s all good.” While there are certainly some valid arguments among the hysteria, fangirl rage comes in flare-ups for which there is no Valtrex. It’s been a couple of weeks since the announcement and I’ve personally seen at least three separate cases of fangirls going  on the attack online for removing the girl from the show.

Now, I’m not defending the decision to take the girl out of the show. I’m certainly not defending the name. It’s awful. I guess they were going for some brand continuity to go along with Mad Men, but Comic Book Men is a pretty terrible name. Even “Comic Book Guys” would be better. It’s not like they called The Walking Dead “Shuffling Dead Men.” And I’m certainly not discrediting the feelings of anyone upset at the female voice being removed from the show. What I do think is a little nuts is that all of the noise I’ve seen has been folks (mostly female) going off on Kevin Smith, (or worse, Bryan and Walt) often very aggressively, over a decision he (they) had no control over. Odds are Smith will get a producer credit, but it’s still not his show. Walt didn’t want to do the podcast initially, let alone a TV show. He even opted out of the press tour. The decision to focus on the guys who work at the store came down from the suits in charge, yet Smith and co. are being subjected to a witch hunt via the internet. And I’m not saying that as a fan of these guys or their podcasts. I’m saying this as a person with some idea as to how the TV/entertainment business works.

Unless I’ve missed it, the girl who was actually cast and then removed hasn’t made a stink about it (probably because she’s a professional). If she’s cool with it, I’m cool with it. But these are the same people that lost their minds a few months ago because fictional characters were having too much sex, so of course they were going to get at least half as upset when something happened to someone in real life.

I’m looking forward to Comic Book Men, despite its awful title, when it debuts in a couple of weeks. I do worry about the immediate backlash from the internet when it comes out because that girl still isn’t going to be on it. Never mind that it’s been publicly said they’ll likely bring her back for season 2. If it’s good, I hope it sticks around for awhile. I just hope the negative publicity doesn’t come to haunt it. I just know that no matter how good or bad the show is, I’ll be reading all over again about how they cast a girl and then took her off the day after it airs. That’s kind of a drag and reeks of “this is why we can’t have nice things.” If you’re incensed by that move, fine. Just direct it at the right place. I doubt very much that removing the girl from the show was a calculated move made by the studio to get a dig in at women. Having not seen the show, I have to say it’s not a decision I agree with, but that’s the nature of the beast. Even Smith was way behind her. I’m confident the people who are still involved will make some pretty fun TV. I just hope some of the scorned can give it an honest shot.

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Who ARE these people!?

Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

I'm even on Google+... Kind of.

Comments (12)

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  1. Just a slight correction, they didn’t hold a casting call for a female cast member, they held an open casting call for the entire show, for anyone. They weren’t looking for a token woman, they were looking for a whole slew of people before they decided to make the show just about the podcast guys.

    Also, the woman who was cast just made another update about how horrible the actual filming experience was.

  2. Ben Gilbert says:

    Wait, does this mean they’re cancelling Talking Dead?!!! This will not stand! How else will I find out what Chris Hardwicke and a random assortment of B-listers think about the episode of Walking Dead that just ended?

  3. RBinRB says:

    I think that “Talking Dead” has not been canceled, just running later in the night , and from what I can tell no woman was ever cast in the store, which is my local comic shop and that the show features the actual people who work there (and those who produce the podcast that originate from the Secret Stash), There never was a “pilot” they apparent produced and in house reel for the executives something called a “sizzle” reel and from what I was told this show is loosely based on that with more podcasts (which are pretty awesome if you have never tuned into smodcat.com do so) and it would be easy for anyone to claim anything like “I was in the….” with or without validating their pedigree regarding the premise of the show. So it sounds a bit liek “sour grapes” even before the show has aired, IMHO RBinRB

  4. I’m actually the girl in question and I really appreciate this article. I agree with everything this article, especially the part about Kevin Smith not being in charge of making the changes to the show. It was all from a business point of view and I’m not upset about that I’m not on the show! I am simply disappointed about how the guys were talking about me on their podcast, because I did not deserve to be treated that way.

    Thanks for a great article!

    • Jason Knize says:

      To be fair, Zoe, I’ve said a lot of awful things on the PanelsOnPages.com podcast, i.e. wishing AIDS and death unto someone. Was it hurtful and vile? Yes. Was it entertaining. Absolutely. Do I regret saying it? Not for a moment.

      Point being…how much of the conversation in question was simply for “show”?

      • Poni says:

        Lars Von Trier made a bunch of Nazi sympathizer comments at Cannes last year all just because he thought it would be funny. That “show” still got him banned from Cannes.

        Point being, you don’t get a pass for being an asshole; especially if you only do it for attention

        • Jason Knize says:

          History has shown that people get passes for being an asshole all the time. Some people make careers out of it.

          I haven’t listened to any of the Smodcast shows, but when someone has a history of being a rancid asshole, it shouldn’t be a surprise when that assy-ness is pointed in your direction.

          However, that being said, I vow to show solidarity with Zoe and the females of fandom in boycotting both Comic Book Men and the Smodcast Network. Or I’ll just not watch or listen to either of them, as I had planned.

          • Poni says:

            Oh, history absolutely shows that assholish behavior usually doesn’t garner any negative repercussions. But, specifically targeting the internet/viral community, I think we have a larger voice than most give us credit for; for example, the recent SOPA/PIPA debacle.

            It doesn’t always take a boycott to sway unruly behavior, but at the least it should be our responsibility to call people out for their lies; especially when someone else’s reputation could be negatively affected by it.

            Personally, I’m not against this show because of what happened with Zoe. I’m just completely uninterested in watching five antisocial fat guys make inside jokes about comics and what the clitoris “might” look like.

            • Jason Knize says:

              “Personally, I’m not against this show because of what happened with Zoe. I’m just completely uninterested in watching five antisocial fat guys make inside jokes about comics and what the clitoris “might” look like.”

              This. Kevin Smith hasn’t inspired me to buy into anything of his since Zack and Miri, and that was lukewarm at best.

              I see where you’re going, and I see what you’re trying to do, Pietro. I get it, and I can respect that. However, I wouldn’t compare this “scandal” to the SOPA/PIPA backlash. That was a one-in-a-million occasion when the internet banded together as one. Giving Comic Book Men the honor of a boycott is giving it more of a life than it deserves.

              • Poni says:

                Haha and that’s why I’m not boycotting the show, nor am I calling for others to. The comparison is not for a figurative or literal boycott; it’s a simple sentiment to stand up to bullshitters, regardless of it being a small issue or not. That’s the movement that matters, not letting liars/slanderers/libelers get away with things just because it’s easier to shut up and take it.

      • I guess I just dont understand how being hurtful and vile to someone is entertaining.

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