Surviving Kevin Smith: Tales Of A First-Time Live-Blogger

Ray Flook write from NYCC for Bleeding Cool;


"Your very first live blog is Kevin Smith! You're a fan…you know his stuff. Noooooo problem! – My Fanboy Voice in My Head Trying To Talk Down From The Ledge My Writer Voice In My Head

Kevin Smith isn't easy. I thought I understood this as someone who's watched and listened to a number of interviews, speeches and Q&A's over the years. He covers a lot of ground, and topics can come at you from every direction. Most of the time he's at the microphone; other times, he's prowling the stage; and some times he's even in the audience or calling-up fans to the stage. As an attendee, he's an amazing one-man panel of humor, frank discussion and total randomness. But those very traits that make him a great speaker from an attendee's standpoint were the same traits that made covering his panel as a first-time live-blogger feel like I was learning to swim for the first time by being thrown into the middle of a tsunami.

c2So yeah: Kevin Smith isn't easy…but he was a wealth of information and humor, and he understood that while many were there to see him, it was important to give Walt (Flanagan), Bryan (Johnson), Zap (Michael Zapcic) and Ming (Chen) their say as they took questions about past and future episodes of COMIC BOOK MEN; and to open the floor early to questions from the audience.

The purpose of the live blog was to give you an overview of what was going on at the panel "as-it-happened," but I wanted to take a moment to go over those posts and flesh-out some of the information and give you a little more background as to what was going on before, between and after the posts. Think of it as a "DVD commentary" for a live blog archive..

(10:57am EST): DJ getting already-jacked crowd worked-up with loud music, free giveaways and…a list of what you can/can't do. Crowd ready for the show…

As to be expected, the crowd needed VERY little help keeping their energy levels high but the DJ and the stage emcee started talking about free giveaways. And then they went over the "do's and don't's" for the panel, creating a brief "needle-scratching-across-the-record" moment of quiet awkwardness. Thankfully, "free stuff" is a great way to break the ice and recapture the crowd.

(11:03am EST): I truly believe that in the right setting, people would eat their young for a free t-shirt that probably won't fit.

I still stand by that statement. I'm not saying it's as bad as a Walmart at 5:00am on "Black Friday"…but it's close. Though I guess if there's one silver lining I take out of it is that at least those that we're trying for a free t-shirt or sweatshirt were "equal opportunity offenders:" it didn't matter what your age, race, religion, gender, astrological sign, blood type or preference for the toilet paper roll to roll over or under…if you were between them and that XXS t-shirt, you were going down. Hard.

(11:07am EST): 2 TMNT fans in costume in dance contest for tickets: Andre' vs. Jose'. Andre' really won by using lanyard as weapon but both get tickets.

Still not sure what I think about the whole "both-get-tickets" ending. I mean, Jose' was brave enough to get up there and at least dance…gyrate in a manner that resembled someone fighting-off an invisible attacker; but Andre' incorporated his lanyard into his routine, and he moved that thing like it was definitely NOT the first time he's had to do that. I know that they had to be nice, but Andre' got robbed and Jose' lucked-out. I'm still not sure why I cared so much…

(11:07am EST): Kevin Smith taking the stage…

Wastes no time whatsoever getting to the microphone…

(11:09am EST): Kevin: "You could be doing other things this morning. This is the hooker capital of the world"

Great way to start the panel, though I'm not sure ReedPOP's going to adopt that "hooker capital" line as a selling point for next year (…but could make for an interesting new VIP package).

(11:10am EST): Clips of outtakes and preview of new season…

(11:14am EST): Cast introduced…

(11:16am EST): Q&A: Kevin cool with digital comics as tech evolves; Walter emphasizes the emotion of physical collecting; Zap stresses it's "cool" to hunt for collectible books.

We get a few bloopers/outtakes before the rest of the cast is introduced, and then it moves right into the Q&A. One of the first questions had to do with their opinions on "digital comics vs. physical comics." Smith was very comfortable with the idea that both forms of media could co-exist and actually compliment each other, but Walt and Zap made a good argument for the emotional "high" that comes from first holding that issue you've spent years searching for to complete a run.

(11:19am EST): Q&A: Fan compliments Kevin with "even my parents like you;" Kevin tells us of the love for Donny & Marie he shared with his parents.

A fan compliments Smith for his career and body of work, ending it with, "even my parents like you." Running with that, the discussion turned toward why it's important to like things that your parents don't; and how he and his parents never seemed to like the same things…except a love for Donnie & Marie Osmond (????).

(11:21am EST): Q&A: Zap gets love and sympathy from fan; crowd reacts with "AWWWWWWW!" / Panel: "Try working with him! "

If the panel audience reaction represents the viewing audience for the show, then they really like Zap (Michael Zapcic) and want to see more of him. He gets the sympathy of the crowd when the panel starts in on him, much to the panel's (mock) surprise…and quite a few offers from fans in the crowd who'd be willing to work with him for free.

(11:22am EST): Q&A: Kevin not sure what kind of "green" he's smoked; gets hug. Awww…

Smith relies on the "kindness of strangers" for his "green needs" when on tour. I was surprised by that answer: I guess I just assumed he always had access immediately around him, 24/7. The follow-up hug was nice…it JUST danced-up to the "creepy line" without crossing over it.

(11:25am EST): Q&A: CLERKS 3 script done, working on financing.

(11:28am EST): Q&A: Starts working on new film project TUSKS in 2-3 weeks; starring Michael Parks

(11:29am EST): Q&A: CLERKS 3 will have "massive cast;" COMIC BOOK MEN cast included.

BIG news from Smith on a number of projects during this portion of the Q&A and later on in the panel. The script for CLERKS 3 is finished and they're currently finalizing the financing, with a storyline that will involve "a cast of thousands"…including the guys from COMIC BOOK MEN, though he wouldn't go into any further details about what their roles would be in the film. But before he starts on CLERKS 3, he's finishing work on his newest film: TUSK. Based "loosely" on a story Smith read, TUSK tells the story of a man (Michael Parks) who ends-up shipwrecked with only a walrus as his friend and companion. After being rescued and brought back to society, the man attempts to hire someone (Justin Long) to dress as a walrus for him every day as he tries to recapture that sense of friendship that he lost. I have a strange feeling things don't go too well. Smith ends by praising the work of Michael Parks, with a special emphasis on the skills and talent he brought to the set of RED STATE.

(11:31am EST): Q&A: Panel debates how long hockey player Martin Brodeur (sp?) should continue to play.

CONFESSION: I don't know a damn thing about hockey, so I think I may have drifted away a little bit during this exchange. But for the record? I DID spell Martin Brodeur's name correctly.

(11:32am EST): Q&A: Lou Ferrigno to be in season premiere to work-out the cast.

(11:33am EST): Kevin: " It will be erotically charged."

Smith sold that scenario better with five words than AMC could with a two-minute trailer.

(11:34am EST): Q&A: Fan compares Kevin to Santa as "gift-giver"…Kevin thinks it's more weight-related.

For a pretty successful guy, I'm surprised by the level of self-deprecating humor he still goes with…

(11:38am EST): Q&A: RED STATE: Kevin found John Goodman a real asset on and off the set. "A loveable teddy bear of a human being."…though he wanted Kevin to stop the ROSANNE references when they spoke.

It was obvious from the start of his answer that Smith has love and respect for John Goodman on both a personal and professional level. In particular, Smith respected Goodman's willingness to stay on set even if he wasn't filming as a way of offering his support and assistance during the shoot.

(11:40am EST): Q&A: New BATMAN mini-series half-done; deals with Batman who "loses it."

BATMAN: BELLICOSITY, the third "cycle" mini-series in Smith's BATMAN: CACOPHONY/THE WIDENING GYRE/BELLICOSITY trilogy, is half-done (writing and illustrations) and will not be set in DC's "New 52" multi-verse. The story deals with a Batman who "loses it;" and Smith feels that he's getting to tell the story he wants to tell to wrap-up his entire story, especially without the restraint of having to anchor it to DC's revamped and newly-launched universe. Still, considering the title was announced last year for a Summer 2013 release I'll believe it when I see the third issue being solicited in Previews.

(11:43am EST): Q&A: FAN: "If you can make CLERKS then what the hell can't I do?" / Gets huge applause from everyone, especially Kevin. Kevin references influence of Richard Linklatter on his movie career.

(11:44am EST): Kevin: "Podcasts are the great equalizer."

(11:45am EST): Kevin: "This is the 'Why-Can't-I Generation.'"

A great mini-lecture/conversation/motivational speech from Smith about the importance of getting out there and making sure your voice gets heard. In particular, he focused on the importance of technology and how much easier the access to it has gotten since he first started making films. He appreciates the attitude he feels this generation has: that with the right tools, there's nothing they can't do. When it comes to podcasting, Smith was very direct: "Podcasts are the great equalizer."

(11:48am EST): Q&A: Bryan: "I sit there and make fun of my friends…Don't tell AMC this but I'd do this for free."

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he made that comment after contract negotiations with AMC. This line best represents the vibe that was coming from everyone on the panel during the hour; and for a program like this to be successful, you need the friendships and interactions to look and feel "natural" and not forced.

(11:50am EST): Q&A: Kevin: "He could take me deep." (re: being Invisible Woman and having sex with Reed Richards)

(11:53am EST): Q&A: Others answers: Wonder Woman, Batwoman and Power Girl. (re: female super heroes they would be even if they had to have sex with their male counterpart)

…Aaaaaaand now we're back-on-track with the quality questions! So the panel was asked (and I'm definitely paraphrasing here since the wording of the question got a little wonky and had to be pieced together) which female superhero they would be…with the understanding that they would have to have sex with their respective male counterpart. Yup. You read that right. The panel threw out answers like Wonder Woman ("Might as well go for the best."), Batwoman ("Because she's a lesbian.") and Power Girl. Leave it to Smith, though, to really embrace the question with this philosophy: if you're going to be a female super hero and have to have have sex with your male counterpart, you might as well go for someone who'll really be able to satisfy you. Sue "Invisible Woman" Storm/Richards. Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards. Game. Set. Match.

(11:56am EST): Q&A: "It was awesome. It was probably the best day of my life." -Ming (re: seeing Selma Hayak dance on set of DOGMA)

While there were some thoughtful and personal answers given when the panel was asked about their best/most memorable experience since knowing/working with Smith, I feel like Ming's answer got the audience to nod approvingly in a quiet, respectful manner. It was almost church-like, actually…

(12:01pm EST): Q&A: " If you can get shit off your chest, it keeps you young." (re: podcasting)

Smith stressing to the audience again the importance of using technology to get your voice heard.

(12:06pm EST): Bryan: "There's no way a guy who talks about Indiana Jones for seven years gets any ass at all" (re: fan who gives Kevin advice to lose weight ("Stop eating.") and calls himself "tripod")

LESSON LEARNED: If you run an Indiana Jones-themed podcast for seven years, a Kevin Smith/COMIC BOOK MEN panel is probably not the best place to start taking snarky cheap-shots at the guests. Bryan's response spoke for most of the people in the crowd; and it was another example of how the group can rip into each other one minute, then circle the wagons and cover for each other the next minute.

(12:08pm EST): Q&A: Fan asks about how they would handle Batman being adopted and Martha Wayne was a "whore."

It was probably the combination of the word "whore" and the tone in which he said it (a little too much emphasis on the "o" and "r" in "whore"), because the subject of the conversation very quickly (and jokingly) turned toward any anger issues or problems the fan might be keeping inside. From there, Smith wondered out loud how it would be if Thomas Wayne was the "whore" and the panel engaged in a very brief discussion of previous stories where the origin of Bruce Wayne/Batman was altered (ex: Bruce Wayne raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent).

(12:08pm EST): That's it!

(12:09pm EST): Funny panel…computer dying on time

First live-blog down…(hopefully) hundreds more to follow!

Ray Flook


About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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