Kevin Smith: Champion of the Comic Book

by: Manda J

A lot of people in the world are know for one great thing that they are amazing at. It can be anything, and they do it well enough to make them the famous for it. Their passion for it fuels that awesomeness.

And some people are with more than one passion. Viggo Mortensen has his art. Jack Black has Tenacious D. Paula Poundstone has cats.

I’m going to focus on another multitasker, Kevin Smith. A film maker and a  professional talker, but also a comic book fanatic.

The first hint we get of Kevin’s comic love is the release of the Clerks comic series. It was only 3 issues (followed by a 4th Where’s the Beef? for Clerks 2) but it was just the beginning.

1997’s Chasing Amy brought it to the big screen. The plot revolves around two friends who created the Bluntman and Chronic comic series based on Jay and Silent Bob. The three issues referenced in Chasing Amy are later released as a TPB in 2001.  The growing popularity of comic based movies were a major point in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back.

With his growing success in film making, Kevin Smith was able to expand into the world of retail.

In January of 1997 he bought a comic shop (Comicology), and Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash was born.

After two years he moved it to its present location in Red Bank New Jersey.   A second location open for a period of time, but has since closed.

He continued to write comics based on his movies, including an interesting crossover called Chasing Dogma. In 1999 Kevin won a Harvey Award for Best New Talent. This was around the time he started writing for mainstream comics.

Kevin Smith has never played favourites when it comes to comic giants, switching back and forth between Marvel and DC. He started off with writing a few issues of Daredevil, then a 15 issue arc for Green Arrow. He got to write 2 mini-series for Marvel, one Spider-man/Black Cat and a Daredevil/Bullseye (which remains unfinished), before he was handed a dream.

To put this in perspective, I give you one quote:

“All things lead to Batman.”

In 2008 Kevin Smith wrote Batman: Cacophony, with art done by his friend and manager of the Secret Stash, Walt Flanagan. The series was so popular that the TPB became a New York Times bestseller.

They followed this up with the 6 part (of 12) series Batman: The Widening Gyre. After I read this, it made its way onto my mandatory comic read list. Absolutely blew me away.

Kevin was far from over. He took a leftover Green Hornet script  and turned it into a series for Dynamite. Some may remember it as the ‘Holy Fuck Kato’s a Woman’ series. I enjoyed that. Crossing genders is a brave writing choice in a comic. It can really freshen up a character when it’s done right.

He took another script for Bionic Man that was rejected as a TV series and then turned that into a comic in 2011.

The cherry on top of this awesome sundae is the show Comic Book Men . It’s a 6 episode series airing on AMC after The Walking Dead, which has got to be one of the best time slots this year. It follow around the employees of the Red Bank Secret Stash and the various people who come in to peddle their comic and sci-fi wares. It’s like Pawn Stars but with cooler stuff.  You can also follow the show by downloading the podcast Tell ‘Em Steve Dave from Kevin Smith’s S.I.R network, winner of the 2010 iTunes ‘best audio podcast’.

Not many people that are stars in one form of entertainment can be such a talent in another in such a noticeable way. Kevin Smith is a man who follows his heart and has does what  many of us dream. He has made a very admirable living doing what he loves (movies) to such a point he can do something else he loves and make money at that too!

Kevin has spoken about this before. And he has some advice to anyone who wants to do, well, anything.

Don’t listen to the the negative side of people. There are millions of people out there who will tell you that you can’t do something.  That it’s too hard, too expensive, too unrealistic.

The people you want to listen to are the ones who encourage and support you.

Especially yourself.

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