Comic Book Men star Bryan Johnson talks about his craziest interaction with a fan and his favorite guest star so far.
Q: You were once the manager of the shop when it first opened. How does a guy who’s not into comics get that gig?
A: It’s quite simple. You befriend a guy who buys a comic book store.
Q: So were you a good people person?
A: Not exactly… pretty terrible actually. Yeah, my shrink once said “Why do you keep getting jobs in retail?” And I said “Because Kevin opens retail stores!”
Q: You seem fairly unfazed by most of the items that come through The Stash. Is there one item that’s come through that you’ve considered pretty cool?
A: There was the Famous Monsters in Film magazine. I love all those ‘60s and ‘70s monster, creepy, eerie stuff. When I said I’d never really been into comics, I always liked the horror comics. You know, with mystery. Witches Brew, those older Tales from the Darkside type comics.
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Q: Which kind of makes sense considering the comic you created with Walt, Cryptozoic Man. That character kind of falls into the monster legends thing…
A: Yeah. Walt wanted him to have that superhero edge to him, but at the same time he knew I didn’t want to go for just superheroes. So we kind of met in the middle and I think it turned out pretty well.
Q: Who has been your favorite guest so far on the show?
A: I know everyone thinks you’re supposed to say Stan Lee, and he was a cool guy and he told me some stuff that I was like, “Wow, I’m surprised he said that.” But I think Dean Cain. Dean was a really cool guy. He showed up at the Superman Birthday party and he was super accommodating… he was a fun guy to hang around with, he had good stories. Totally down to earth, good dude.
Q: You’ve become a bit of a celebrity now yourself. What’s been your craziest interaction with a fan?
A: I always find it strange when people are super nervous, like shaking or sweating, or just like they’re about to have a panic attack. Because you want to tell them, “Trust me, I’m not worth having a panic attack over.” But the strangest interaction — and we’ve had many of them — was through our show, the podcast we do (Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave). People tell us how much the show means to them. We had a guy recently who wrote to Walt and said he had terminal cancer and in his last will and testament, he wanted to be buried in a Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave T-Shirt, like the shirts they make for our podcast. That’s pretty crazy, right?
Q: This season, you guys played the Clerks guys in bowling and Brian O’Halloran mentioned this rumor that you used to be in a bowling league. Is this true?
A: Way, way, way back when, yeah. This would have been 1986 — me, Walt, our other friend Ed Hapstack who played a couple roles in Clerks, and this other guy, Rob, decided to join a bowling league, because we weren’t really doing much… None of us drank or did anything, we were pretty boring. So we were like “Yeah we’ll join a bowling league!” At the same time, we were really into metal. It was right when Metallica’s “Kill Em All” album came out and the song “The Four Horsemen” was on it. So we were like “All right, we’ll call our team The Four Horsemen and not only that, we’ll bring in a huge poster of The Four Horsemen with us every time, to psych out the other opponents.”
Q: Did it work?
A: No, we came in like second-to-last in the season. These people were more skilled — it would have taken a lot more than a poster to scare ‘em. But it was still pretty fun.
Q: What has been your favorite memory from working on Comic Book Men so far?
A: I gotta say — it’s weird because it seems anti-climactic — but breaking Ming’s dishes at the flea market. Because people got so worked up about it… I love Ming — I’ve been friends with the guy for fifteen years. We vacation together, our kids hang out together — but people don’t realize that. They see some big white brute breaking up some little Chinese kid’s stuff, they get all worked up about it.