Kevin Smith on Lack of Women on AMC Comic Book Show: ‘That’s Reality’

comic book men 510 Kevin Smith on Lack of Women on AMC Comic Book Show: Thats Reality

The sausage fest of 'Comic Book Men' (AMC)

Today over a long lunch at Caroline’s, actor/director/oversized advocate Kevin Smith discussed his new AMC reality show, Comic Book Men. The series, which focuses on Mr. Smith’s own New Jersey comic shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (as well as the kooky individuals who both work at and patronize the store), has been given a prime spot on the channel: directly after the zombie drama The Walking Dead.

After various mentions of how high he was, Mr. Smith took questions from the audience. The Observer enjoys a good comic book now and then, so we just had one question about the “reality” show…where were the female comic geeks?

“The show’s called Comic Book Men,” Mr. Smith answered to scattered laughter. “I hope there is some female viewers, even if they don’t feel that it’s gender-oriented towards them.” Of course, that implies the subject matter itself isn’t interesting to women, giving you a glimpse into the way Kevin Smith’s mind works. And it just got better from there:

It’s not like there aren’t chicks in the show…there are chicks. But the reality of the comic book stores is that these are the people who work in them. There’s not a woman among them. When we originally showed the idea to AMC, they said ‘It’s a sausage party,’ so we said all right, let’s bring in a chick. And for the presentation we brought in and shot a chick, and it was wonderful and great, but then AMC, god bless them, said ‘Well, that’s not the reality of the show.’

Wait so which was it? The girl was great and wonderful, or “God bless AMC” for waking up to the fact that women and comics just didn’t feel “real” enough for the very high criteria of reality television? He continued:

So for Season One we were less concerned with gender politics in nerdom, and let’s put forth a reality show. And this is the reality: these dudes work here. Now, we could alter the reality of the show…but that would feel kind of weird. This is a snapshot of a store where these guys have worked for 20 years, and unfortunately it is a sausage fest.

Oof. All those crazy feminists and their “gender politics.” If you’re wondering why the show would publicly hold auditions for a comic book store where authenticity means “everyone has worked here for 20 years”…well, us too. But the woman originally involved with Comic Book Men was Zoe Gulliksen, who Kevin Smith had called “perfect” in an early podcast about the show. The Clerks director mentioned that store manager Walt Flanagan “learned a powerful lesson” after claiming that girls didn’t know anything about comics and then meeting Ms. Gulliksen.

Too bad that’s a lesson Comic Book Men never plans on showing us.

Comments

  1. Jackmanfred007 says:

    I hope the author of the article is at least somewhat aware of how obvious is his bald intention to excoriate Mr. Smith. Clearly the Observer is attempting to conjure a half-wit version of the uproar over Michael Patrick King’s TV show and its alleged reliance on stereotype. If you know anything about Kevin Smith, you would know he is the last man in Hollywood to even consider treating women unfairly; moreover, he is several degrees more qualified than the Observer’s reporter to discuss the “reality” of comic book vending, however vaguely the writer attempts to define that unfortunate term. 

    1. Drew Grant says:

       Yeah, I mean, the writer is a “she,” but otherwise good points bro.

    2. Judith Butlertron says:

      It’s not necessary to “know” someone to critique a patently untrue, bullshit statement they make – quite the contrary, as the people who are his fans seem to be completely unable to parse that the man who made Chasing Amy might be able to be wrong about female comic artists. From his assertion that there are no women doing comics to his dismissal of astounded peopl correcting him as “GENDER POLITICS”, he’s being stupid, wrong, and sexist.

      It really doesn’t matter what kind of special Kevin Smith Decoder Ring you think you possess, if someone espouses and then defends an opinion that relies on the assumption of default maleness, that person is saying a sexist thing. That might not make him A Sexist, but I’m sure you’ll recall that Mel Gibson’s defenders claimed that the things he said were racist, but that they didn’t mean HE was racist! Right???

      (wrong, lol)

  2. HankMoody says:

    Let me get this straight… the writer of this column cannot understand that a potential female cast member might be “wonderful and great” in her own right, but simply wasn’t a good fit for a program centered on a handful of guys who have known each other for years (in some cases, 30+ years)? These are hardly mutually exclusive ideas. I find it difficult that anyone, even a writer for the Observer, could be so slow-minded.

    Squawk all you want about the nature of “reality tv,” but AMC should be applauded for realizing its mistake and putting the interests of the show above political correctness and lowest common denominator viewership. And Smith should not be condemned for pointing out the obvious: that the staffs of many comic book stores (and to his point, the staff of HIS comic book store) are exclusively male.

    Insisting that a woman be crammed into the program in a staff/starring capacity—quality of the show be damned—is akin to suggesting that the “Real Housewives” shows are sexist because they don’t feature men in starring roles. And claims like the ones made by Ms. Grant do far more to hurt the status of women in today’s society than Mr. Smith ever could.I have many, many criticisms of Smith, but the writer of this piece is way off target in her half-baked assessment. Even by the weak standards of the Observer, this is shoddy reporting/commentary. 
    PS: By the way, the complaints voiced in this piece aren’t even timely or original. A blogger named Jill Pantozzi expressed many of the same sentiments as Ms. Grant several weeks ago. Though in Ms. Pantozzi’s case, it read as more of a case of sour grapes (since, like Ms. Gulliksen, she considered herself an ideal candidate for the show… and the paycheck).

    1. Anonymous says:

      While I don’t agree with the tone the writer has regarding this issue (if you even want to call it that), it’s not just to badmouth Zoe just because she auditioned, was hired and filmed the pilot for the show. They chose her, not the other way around ( listen to KSmith’s podcast if you need confirmation). Not only that, but AMC greenlit the show based on that pilot episode, it was only then that the initial production company was “let go” because they did not want to make the changes KSmith’s people wanted to make; not AMC. Their decision(s) was obviously made with the best interest of the show in mind. Too many writers just seem to be blowing this completely out of proportion.

      In fact, and feel free to browse Zoe’s blog again to confirm this, she has never badmouthed any part of this show because of it’s new format and she’s consistently thanked them for the opportunity to be involved (note: it was a volunteer job, she wouldn’t have garnered any pay). It’s completely unfair to judge the show until you see it for yourself, and that includes judging the people involved.

    2. Anonymous says:

      While I don’t agree with the tone the writer has regarding this issue (if you even want to call it that), it’s not just to badmouth Zoe just because she auditioned, was hired and filmed the pilot for the show. They chose her, not the other way around ( listen to KSmith’s podcast if you need confirmation). Not only that, but AMC greenlit the show based on that pilot episode, it was only then that the initial production company was “let go” because they did not want to make the changes KSmith’s people wanted to make; not AMC. Their decision(s) was obviously made with the best interest of the show in mind. Too many writers just seem to be blowing this completely out of proportion.

      In fact, and feel free to browse Zoe’s blog again to confirm this, she has never badmouthed any part of this show because of it’s new format and she’s consistently thanked them for the opportunity to be involved (note: it was a volunteer job, she wouldn’t have garnered any pay). It’s completely unfair to judge the show until you see it for yourself, and that includes judging the people involved.

  3. HankMoody says:

    By the way… if women are really so concerned about being part of the comic book store culture, they should, you know, actually get jobs at regular old comic book stores and not just the ones featured on tv shows. 

    1. madmonq says:

      Except if the store is a real sausage fest (and I’ve rarely seen a comic book store that was not) they’d naturally be discouraged by the morons who work there. I am a guy and with some exceptions I know I usually am.

    2. k a r i says:

      Zoe works in a comic book store… in Times Square. I don’t know how much more legitimate she can be.

      1. HankMoody says:

        You clearly didn’t read my comment very carefully. I didn’t single out Zoe with the “get jobs at regular old comic book stores” comment. As has been noted several times over now (here and elsewhere), Zoe herself should be commended for not trying to make this about gender. She seems to have a good attitude about the whole thing, and that is admirable.

        That said, there ARE a lot of women (the author of this piece included) who’ve tried to make this about sex/gender. The whining continued on Monday morning when a handful of women tried to claim that the show was sexist because it portrayed the woman with the Chucky Doll as a lunatic. Gee, do you think that maybe it wasn’t about her gender, but the fact that she actually BEHAVED like a lunatic!?!?!?
        Anyway, back to the point I originally made last week. We all know that women make up a very, very small percentage of comic book staffs. Yet, they turned out in droves when AMC put out the casting call. It wasn’t the opportunity to work in a comic book shop that they were interested in. It was the chance to be on television and reap the rewards and the attention. I don’t know what would have been involved in terms of financial payment (or lack thereof), and I’m inclined to take Zoe’s word when she says there was no paycheck involved. But we all know that there are huge perks to being on television (e.g. you’re on a national stage, the opportunity to make big money if there’s a second season, etc…). If women really want to be considered part of comic book store culture, they need to start at the right place and actually go to work at stores… not just when television networks are holding tryouts.

      2. Marley Zarcone says:

        I worked in a comic book shop for two years. One of owners is a woman. Other local shops have female employees. This is all in the Maryland suburbs. I could go on about how many shops I’ve hit up coast to coast with female employees. How about Mimi Cruz Who runs Night Flight Comics in Utah?? Her store won an Eisner in 2005!

        In other words, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Go away!

      3. NyReader01 says:

         Does she work at a comic shop in Times Square?  Really?  No, she co-hosts a book club once a month.  She has never worked for the actual store.

  4. Zoë Gulliksen says:

    Just to clarify, I do work at a real comic shop. And I was under the impression that I was not going to get paid for this tv show, so those are not valid arguments. I applaud AMC for sticking with the facts and I really hope the show does well! Thanks for the shout out Observer :)

  5. Danielstx182 says:

    Is that so hard to understand, the girl was great, but when you put a new person in a group thats been together for such a long time, it might not work? There’s no chemistry? She might not fit into the dynamics of the group?

  6. it’s a reality that i’ve seen change over the years. when i was spending my lunch money on comics in high school, i never saw a woman working, or patronizing comic book stores. in my trips to them in the last few years i have rarely seen the population of the store be completely male. 

  7. Liz says:

    Things like this always seem so strange to me, since my experience is colored by the fact that my first job was in a comic book store where 90% of the employees including myself were women. It may have been a strategic move by the owner to pander to the customers, but we all enjoyed what we were selling. I actually miss that job sometimes. I met some strange people, but I also met some endearing ones too. Plus, employee discount! (:

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know, maybe I live in a special world where women own and operate comic shops, but I have distinct memories of at least one comic book store I used to go to as a kid being owned by an older woman. And I’ve seen plenty of women working in them as well. The sad truth is that they are marketing the show to men — because yes, the majority of comic nerds are male — and comic guys tend to have a very insular, chauvinistic culture. But they’re missing a trick here, because that Zoe girl is both knowledgable about comics AND cute as a button. Certainly that would DRAW the target demo, not push them away? Very silly, AMC.

    1. HankMoody says:

      “and comic guys tend to have a very insular, chauvinistic culture”

      This comment is far more sexist and inaccurate than anything Smith or his pals have ever said. Shame on you.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        How in the world is that sexist? It’s simply an observation of fact. Open a typical comic book and check out its depiction of women as either a sexual plaything or a prop for a male hero. Even the female heroes are props with their tits out. And you expect enlightenment from the men who obsess over them? Feh.

  9. alison says:

    I guess this female comics creator and avid comic book reader will now officially relinquish my status as a Kevin Smith apologist. I still love Clerks and Mallrats, but…come on, guys. Pull your heads out of your asses. 

  10. BlackGeekChic says:

    i really wanns just show up in the store when they are filming to see what happens. a “chick” and a Black one at that… their heads may assplode!

  11. Llothcat says:

    huh. The one good comic shop in Riverside was owned by an old crone of a woman. It was back in the late eighties, and has since closed, but I still refer to her as the mummy.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Maybe it’s a national thing (or a continental thing perhaps) but I personally know way more girls these days interested in fantasy and comics than I know guys. ..Kev’s view point seems pretty obsolete … and …chicks? REEEAAAALLY?

  13. Anise Shaw says:

     As a comic creator and a woman who has frequented hundreds of comic book stores, I can safely say that Kevin Smith is full of crap.

  14. Bryce says:

    There are two very nice, comic-literate women that work at the comic shop I usually go to, and a female friend of mine that arguably knows more about comics/geekdom than I do (and that’s saying something) worked at one  just down the street until recently.

  15. On one hand, I can understand the whole: “this is a group of people who have worked together for years.  Adding a new person just to have a new person changes the dynamic.”  On the other hand…

    “It’s not like there aren’t chicks in the show…there are chicks…
    let’s bring in a chick…we brought in and shot a
    chick”

    Chick chick chick chick….yeah, seriously? 

    I dunno, my LCS has been owned and run by a woman since before I picked up a comic.  Maybe it’s just that I feel this show is unnecessary, or at the very least, ill-timed, what with all the kerfuffle going on over the past year or so, of women trying to be heard and respected as a viable part of the comic book industry, book as creators and as an audience.  “Comic Book Men” is such an exclusive title.  “Folks” or “People” would have worked just as well.  (Then again, so would, I dunno, an INTERESTING title.  That one’s just a little bit…on the nose?)  And then starting a show where there simply is no room for a woman, even if they try to shoehorn her in.

    Basically, at a time when we’re finally raising a fuss about this issue and pushing for an end to stereotypes in our industry, here comes an AMC show brutally enforcing the “It’s totally a boys club.  Girls can only come in sometimes, if we allow it, but not really, because they don’t fit in here” attitude.  And that’s just a crying shame. 

    Honestly, it’s almost like a push back.  Like, whether or not they’re doing it intentionally, they’re marking their territory or something.  Shame.

  16. Rcp428 says:

    dislike the show.  they act like boys with a porn mag rather than a comic book.

  17. Pipesoflirael says:

    I’m a chick that works at a comic book store. Jerk.

    1. I used to work in a comic store in the 90s. it was co-owned by a woman. I have female friends who work at comic shops, so the bull about ‘Chicks don’t work at comic shops’ really grinds my gears.

  18. NJperson says:

    I live near Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash (which is an awesome store if you like both comics and Kevin Smith movies)  and I can say in all my years going to the store I’ve never seen a single woman behind the counter, though I have seen several women that are both Kevin Smith and comic fans patronize the store.  I have also been to a number of comic book shops that have women working at them or even managers/owners. The Stash just isn’t one of them. Really I don’t think I’ve really seen anyone work there that wasn’t connected to Kevin Smith in some way.

    I have met just about every person involved with Comic Book Men in some form or another. Pretty cool people for the most part. I actually think it’d be more sexist to have a “token female” compared to the show as is. It’s basically about Kevin Smith’s buddies that are also comic nerds and run this store. Obviously if a woman was a part of that group who ran the Stash, she would have as prominent a role in the show as Mike, Walt, Bryan, and Ming. But that’s not the reality of it.

    It is worth noting that one of the executive producers is a woman at least.

  19. hammer says:

    I love your wordpress theme, where would you get a hold of it through?