We talked with Ming Chen, of AMC’s Comic Book Men, about Star Wars and his involvement in the newest app to hit iOS and Google Play, Cosmunity.
GWW: To pick up from when we last spoke, per your recommendation, I did read Avengers #214 by the way.
Ming Chen: Yeah, great issue. In the issue before, Hank Pym gets accused of beating his wife, Janet and that was a big shockwave back then. Domestic violence wasn’t really an issue they touched on back then. As a 6 year old kid, I didn’t know what was going on. Then when you are watching Ant-Man, they don’t really talk about that. It’s kind of a dark footnote in comic book history.
GWW: I did go back and read the issue before, since they did mention a trial for Pym. This issue is one of the many that really remind you how much of a screw up Pym can be.
MC: Yeah he was kind of a scumbag. #214 in particular though, if you are Ghost Rider fan is a great issue.
GWW: To me, he came off as kind of an ass at first, like he is pretty bad ass but pretty rude, especially when going after Angel.
MC: Yeah, they humanize him a little bit by the end.
GWW: It was a good issue. Like I said I went back and read #213 and #215 as well with Silver Surfer.
MC: Yeah, it was a cool little run. What’s cool is that you can pick up that issue for like $5 bucks and the one’s around it aren’t too expensive. It’s not a key issue but that was the first book that got me into comic books. You never know, with a kid today, if you give him a random book, it can change his/her life.
GWW: I wanted to talk about Cosmunity app that launched this week.
MC: Yeah, It is pretty exciting. Not sure if you had much time to look at it.
GWW: Absolutely, I scored a super easy User Name, “Danny”.
MC: Hey, you are right on the ground floor, how often do you get to do that?
MC: Yeah, that was huge for me. I went to 34 cons last year. I have done cons for 3 years since Comic Book Men started. I’m pretty close to 100. Nowadays if i have a con coming up, I go to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, there’s a whole social media arsenal you have to work with. The thing about Facebook or Twitter is if you say you are going to a con, the people who are going will see it but the others won’t really care. The thing about Cosmunity, those updates are for them. The event part is great, I know you have been to a few shows and they’ll have their guide books they hand out in the beginning or their apps and it’s still hard to figure out what’s going on. To be honest, I’ll be a guest at a con and still won’t know what my panels are. If you are a fan of the show or want to come hang out and chat with me, it’s cool that I can directly tell people where I’m going to be and when. The focus is really great. The timeline/feed, I like to post whatever I am doing convention wise, show wise, podcast wise or life in general. The thing about Cosmunity, I will try to keep it more focused on geek and pop culture.
GWW: How did you partner with the folks at Cosmunity?
MC: I met a fellow cosplayers based in the Dallas area, she goes by the name of MCubedCosplay, she is actually well known for her Rey photo. I met her at a couple of conventions and she met the founder and CEO of Cosmunity, Cole Egger and she told her my involvement with conventions and my general attitude. She thought I would be a good person to jump on their Advisory board and put in my input to make the app better for fans and users. I teamed up with him six months ago. They came out with a great beta program and I had a lot of input. I’m excited for all my friends to hop on this app.
GWW: I think an app like this is something we needed for some time now. It’s really responsive and I love how easy it is to find everything.
MC: Yeah, to me cons are the best 3-day part on any particular weekend, I think that’s why i like them so much. Afterwards you want to keep the feeling going. For me, it’s also to keep people aware of where I am going to be. Another element is the marketplace, whether you are a photographer, if you are cosplayer who wants to sell prints or a prop maker, these options are available. I jokingly put a $1000 offer for a night out with mike Zapcic. No one has taken us up on it yet. I may put up some signed prints on there for a reasonable price. I think it’s cool, there is a genuine, easy to use concept there.
GWW: When we last spoke, you were about to start filming season six of Comic Book Men. Now that there are only two episodes left in the season, what was your favorite episode to record this season?
MC: The episode that aired last week where Ralph Macchio came in. As a kid of the 80’s, Daniel Larusso was iconic. I moved around a lot, i got bullied but not as bad as Daniel. I never got thrown off my bike or chased by dudes in skeleton costumes. I knew what it was like to feel like the underdog. Seeing him mentored by an old asian man struck me in particular. Seeing someone fight back using unconventional methods was a big thing with me. The All Valley Under 18 Tournament was almost as exciting to me as seeing the Death Star Trench fight at the end. You know, I wanted to see them get through this. Seeing him finish with the crane technique was almost like watching Luke blow up the Death Star. It’s kind of apples and oranges, the way that movie ended stuck with me. I see kids now watching it, so that movie still holds its own. Ralph Macchio coming into the shop and showing us how to Wax-On, Wax-Off properly was mind-blowing.
GWW: Any word on a season 7?
MC: We usually don’t find out til April or May. We have always gone year-to-year, it’s a little nerve wracking but the ratings have been great. One of my favorite parts of going to conventions are people of all ages coming up to me and telling me they watch the show. People of all ages from kids to 89 year old grandmothers telling me they stay up to watch the show. It’s pretty cool, it has a wide appeal to all ages, all demographics. It’s looking good, I would love to do it forever. When i’m rolling in a wheel chair, and I think when I’m 80 years old, I’ll still be talking about old GI Joe toys as I am now.
GWW: I do love how natural the show is and how relatable everyone can be at times. It’s a group of friends talking comics and toys.
MC: I think that’s fun too. I’m sure everyone has the instigator in the group, the Mike Zapcic, the knowledge man, or the Ming, the guy that gets made fun of all the time. Not only that but I have no doubt, let’s say you come to the shop in New Jersey tomorrow and can easily strike a conversation with us, and based on your fandom and knowledge, we can have a back and forth about Rogue One or the new Han Solo Movie.
GWW: Is there anyone else that runs the shop when you guys aren’t around or filming?
MC: Its actually us. You come in tomorrow, you will see me, Mike and Walt there. We have another guy who is off-screen who comes in a couple nights to help out. We are actually there. I know people are surprised. Walt would have it no other way, he is very particular about how he runs the shop. A lot of people find it odd, I guess there is this misconception that when you are off TV, you can take a step back. If you come to the store, you expect to see one or two of us at least. A lot of people travel long distances to come check out the store and get photos with us. I love doing that. For the people, who can’t come up, of course I go to the conventions. I go to you.
GWW: What has been your favorite item, your holy grail, to come into the shop?
MC: I’ve had a couple, I was such a huge GI Joe fan. The GI Joe 1983 or ’84, made an aircraft carrier called the U.S.S Flag, that was my favorite as a kid. I never actually owned it. One of my friends had it and I wanted it forever. It wasn’t until 30 years later when someone brought it into the shop and I actually got a chance to buy it. unfortunately I had to buy it at 5 times what it costs in 1983 but thats the whole collectibles market. Another thing that came in was a screen used lightsaber from Empire Strikes Back. We didn’t buy it because it was too expensive but he let us hold it and play around with it. Something like that to me, that is like my Lost Ark, that’s my Golden Idol, a true artifact.
GWW: Speaking of Star Wars, a new cast photo for the Han Solo Film was released earlier today. What do you think of the cast and Alden Ehrenreich playing Han?
MC: I saw it, it was pretty cool. I think he’ll do a great job. They haven’t hinted at any plot points. I’m interested to see how he got the Millennium Falcon, the gun, meeting Lando. Will they show him meeting Chewbacca? Does something happen that makes him turn into this scoundrel. The great thing about the Star Wars Universe, you take all these characters, take Darth Vader for instance. Back then you didn’t care about his back story. No one really asked that then, it’s really cool to see their back story now. I liked how the first one was structured when you didn’t need that now. You just needed to know if they were menacing, or back-talking or sarcastic. I think it’s going to be really cool to see that.
GWW: There is so many stories they could use in, what they now called Legends, I’m excited for that. Also, extremely excited to see Glover playing Lando. What I’m really interested to see, as you mentioned, is Han meeting Chewy. Will they explain the Wookiee’s life-debt, is that still a thing in this new canon? What did you think about Rogue One?
MC: I loved Rogue One, I loved the little call backs like the Blue Milk, the guy who got his arm cut off, the rise of the Empire. The last 30 minutes was worth the price of admission alone. Seeing Vader lay waste to the troops. I love how it leads directly into where A New Hope starts. If it never existed, the story is not essential to the canon but I’m really glad they made it. I thought Tarkin looked great and It was cool to see a young Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) at the end.
GWW: If you could rate the Star Wars films from Favorite to least, what’s the order?
MC: Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, Rogue One, Return of the Jedi, Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones and The Phantom Menace would be last. Unless the Jar Jar rumors about him being a sith lord are true, that may change it.
Catch Ming on Sunday Nights on AMC’s Comic Book Men, as well as possibly your local convention. Be sure to check out Cosmunity as well, and follow us.