'Geeks Get to Play Forever': Kevin Smith Goes From Clerks to Comic Book Men
On the reality behind the reality of Comic Book Men:
"Here's the honest thing, if you're rolling cameras in a store for two months hoping to have people come through the door to do transactions, you'll burn a lot of film with nothing going on. So what you do is you put up a notice going, 'You got anything you want to sell? Want to come to the store to sell it?' That way you can organize it in a way where you put everybody on one week and you're shooting all the transactions. You'd kind of run it the same way you'd run a production but the only think you kind of work on in advance is 'You be here at this point and time. Whatever you say or do on camera is up to you.' So it still maintains the air of reality. We're not like, 'Yo man, here's 50 bucks, can you play a psycho?' It's not like that! We can get psychos to show up for free. Once they get in the door, they're real people acting the way they do. These guys have shot some transactions where some of the guys were not happy with the way it went -- didn't have the storybook ending it should -- and that's where reality TV gets dirty, you know?"
On how the Comic Book Men are living the dream:
"They're all married, they got kids, that part of their life is all sorted out. They just happen to want to live like Arthur for the rest of their lives. A lot of us saw Arthur when we were kids and were just like, 'Look at all these games and toys; wouldn't that be great if you could just live passionately about shit you love? We all have this kind of dream. If you're doing something you love and they're paying you for it never feels like fucking work. If we can all get our lives to a place where we could be doing something we absolutely love and get paid for it, boom, we've cracked the code. And Walt Flanagan kind of inspired all of us. A long time ago before I made the flicks, he was like, 'What do you want to be? What's your dream job?' We heard that Jackie the Joke Man made a thousand dollars a week on Howard Stern, and Brian was like, 'Could you imagine being paid a thousand dollars a week to talk to your friends?' I was like, 'What a dream job.' Flanagan's dream job was 'I want to run a comic book store.' And I was like, 'You want to own a comic book store?' and he was like 'Oh no, no, no, I don't want to own it, I just want to run it.' And I was like, 'Why?' and he goes, 'Cheap discount.' So, then after Clerks, we went out and wound up getting a store for him to run. We had no idea that it would eventually result in this. Like it's all Walt Flanagan-instigated, lucky for us."