Comic Book Men is a Reality TV show on AMC about Kevin Smith's comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. The show uses a combination of following the cast around with the going-ons in the store, and podcast style commentary about the going-ons with the cast, and host Kevin Smith. The shop itself is named after Jay and Silent Bob, two recurring characters in Smith's films set in The View Askewniverse.
The show's main cast consist of Secret Stash manager and Kevin Smith's childhood friend, Walt Flanagan, his store assistant, Mike Zapcic, third employee, Ming Chen, and Kevin Smith's other childhood friend, Bryan Johnson.
The series premiered on February 12, 2012, with its first season of six hour-long episodes. With season two, the show shifted to half-hour episodes. The show ended after it's seventh season finished airing in April, 2018.
This series shows examples of:
- AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: Kevin pronounces Mario as Mary-Oh.
- It's one of Kevin's tics. He also pronounces Comi Con Commie-Con.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Walt may be one of these, joking about showing off his action figure collection to his daughter's friends.
- Kevin mentioned that his daughter was once horribly embarrassed by his Batman shorts, which greatly confused him because he couldn't figure out how it was different from anything else he did.
- Asian and Nerdy: Ming Chen, who loves comics and Star Wars just as much as the rest of the guys.
- Auction: One episode has Walt and Bryan competing against Mike and Ming on which team can purchase the best items at a local auction. Another episode has the Secret Stash throwing an auction to help a store regular sell his collection to pay for medical bills.
- Baseball Episode: In this case hockey. One episode has Kevin Smith dropping by, getting the guys into a local street hockey game.
- Basement-Dweller: Bryan. Also somewhat of an Ironic Echo, as he's usually the first to quip on the other guys for being loser nerds, yet he's the single 40 something geek with no job (he merely hangs out at the Stash) other than presumably what AMC pays him for being on the show, and yes, he literally lives in his parent's basement.
- ...Or he used to. Bryan shares quite a bit on the Tell 'Em Steve-Dave podcast, and has mentioned that he's long since moved into his own place... And then had to move again due to psychotic neighbors.
- The Big Race: Played with for laughs. Jason Mewes brings Adam West to the Stash and the conversation turns to which would be faster: Batman's Batmobile or The Green Hornet's Black Beauty? Ming makes a few calls, gets two accurate replicas and the group prepare to race the cars in front of the Stash. Challenges are made, engines are revved, the handkerchief is dropped, and...the two cars set off at under ten miles per hournote . The Batmobile eventually wins a race that is so slow that Jason Mewes could outpace both cars at light jog.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In an episode where the gang takes turns "riding" the Batcycle, the last shot of the segment shows they were on the back of a trailer all along.
- Butt-Monkey: Ming is often the target of jokes among the main cast, especially Bryan and Walt.
- Celebrity Cameo: Nearly every episode has one, or a famous piece of merchandise (see Cool Car below).
- Chekhov's Gunman: The guys attend an auction where they spend several minutes joking about the auctioneer-speak. When the guys host an auction in a later episode they use the same auctioneer.
- Stan Lee also shows up several times after he visits their store.
- Cooking Duel: Literally, in one episode. Mike and Ming compete with Walt and Bryan to design a sandwich to be named after the Secret Stash at a local sandwich shop.
- Cool Car: The Batmobile makes an appearance in one episode, and the guys even get to drive it around town.
- Creepy Doll: Invoked by the guys when a customer brings in a Chucky doll.
- Dagwood Sandwich: Essentially what Walt and Bryan make in the Cooking Duel episode.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of Bryan's comments fall into this.
- Kevin has gone on record many times saying Randal from Clerks is based heavily on Bryan. Watching this show, it's incredibly obvious.
- Dueling Shows: With Travel Channel's Toy Hunter. Lou Ferrigno, Stan Lee, toy dealer Mark, and the auctioneer have shown up on both.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Lou Ferrigno was tasked with getting Bryan back into shape, they had a discussion about healthy eating. When Lou asked Bryan what's the first thing he eats in the morning, Bryan dryly answered "my girlfriend's boob".
Ming: What are you implying?Bryan: I'm gonna fuck the comic.
- Defied later when Bryan starts joking about rolling a comic into a tube.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Believe it or not, Bryan! A scant six years prior to the series, Bryan reveals he was a svelte man at the top of his game. Though a serious battle with depression lead to overeating.
- The Jersey Devil: The guys go hunting for the Jersey Devil in one episode.
- Joisey: The Secret Stash is in Red Bank, NJ, Kevin Smith's home town.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: After just being referenced to on Bryan Johnson's shirts and stickers on the Stash's wall, Brian Quinn was able to get onto the show in an episode in Season 4. The reason for this was a relaxing of Tru TV's policy with the Impractical Jokers star, and co-host of the Tell'Em Steve-Dave podcast that inspired the Comic Book Men series, making appearances on competing network shows. Kevin Smith even threw out a plug for Impractical Jokers and Tru TV in the "podcast" segment of the episode. While not doing any sort of challenge or any other improvisational routine that he'd do with his troupe, the segments Quinn was on did surround him being a professional comedian.
- Motor Mouth: Discussed by the guys, in the first Auction episode, about auctioneers.
- Not So Above It All: Byan usually scoffs at his friends' fanboy moments but he ended up enthusastically gushing over a Evel Knievel toy and buying it so he could introduce the daredevil to his young niece.
- Product Placement: Discussed in one episode, as the cast and Smith reminisce about Hostess Fruit Pie ads.
- Reality Ensues: The boys go to a storage locker auction in the hopes of finding a stash of comic books. They end up spending several thousand dollars on a locker full of worthless knick-knacks.
- Recycled In Space: Pawn Stars IN A COMIC SHOP!
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Happens often, with the guys discussing what Superhero they would hate to be, what animated universe they would like to live in, if James Bond could beat a superhero, etc.
- So Bad, It's Good: Invoked. What the guys aim for when filming a commercial for the Stash.
- Squee!: A common reaction from the gang for some of the items that come into their store, particularly if it holds a lot of nostalgia from their childhood. Notably, Cheng was head over heels when someone brought in a complete USS Flagg from the G.I. Joe 1980s toyline, or when the same guy brought in a complete Planet of the Apes playset the next season, Walter similarly gushed. Subverted with Bryan, who usually scoffs at most of it.
- Take a Third Option: Consignment comes off as this. The seller leaves the item or items in the shop, and the shop sells it for a small percentage, instead of buying it outright and reselling.
- Take That!: One episode makes a rather pointed criticism towards shows like Storage Wars and how such programs make it seem as if it's easy to find valuable objects that can be sold at a profit. The boys go to a storage locker and buy one in the hopes that some boxes contain comic books. They don't and the boys are out several thousand dollars.
- Team Chef: Mike, who was a trained chef, takes the lead in the Cooking Duel.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Walt says that he respects Ming, his designated butt monkey, after Ming stepped up and took part in a rap battle against Darryl McDaniels of RunD.M.C..Kevin: I noticed a pig flying by.
- Toilet Humor: Invoked by a set of Garbage Pail Kids card Ming buys.
- What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Bryan. Kevin owns the stash, Walter runs it, Mike and Ming work there, and one might assume Bryan does too...but he doesn't. He's just there. In reality, he does not have a job beyond being on the show (and making funny quips, of course).
- Who's Watching the Store?: A real life example is Jason Mewes, who we're told when working at the Stash, would leave to buy cigarettes, etc. and leave customers to mind the store for him.
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things: The Stash will often come across accurate replicas of movie and TV vehicles (or the real thing) and will inevitably want to jump in for a ride. Inevitably, if they're allowed to, it has to be in a carefully controlled environment and often under the direct supervision of the owner because the vehicles are so valuable that the Stash would come under new management if any damage were to occur.