Interview with Ming Chen of Comic Book Men
GWW (Danny Benavides): So what do you have planned for Comicpalooza?
Ming Chen: Yeah, During my first time two years ago, I found out I had this long-lost cousin in Houston. So I just googled what conventions were going on in the area and they welcomed me with open arms. Normally with some of these conventions, their policy is they don’t invite people back the same year twice and this’ll be my third year in a row. I’m not quite there yet but I hope to be like Adam West or Lou Ferrigno status and go wherever I want.
GWW: What was the first issue you ever owned?
MC: When I was in first grade, a classmate gave me Avengers #214. That one got me into comics. If you go out and find it, it’s maybe worth $5 to $10. The cover has Iron Man being taken down my Ghostrider. In the back it has a concerned looking Captain America, Tigra is back there. I devoured that thing cover to cover, the plot-line, all the characters, all the avengers. What really entranced me actually were the ads inside. There was an ad for Hubba Bubba Bubblegum. I’m pretty sure there was a Hostess Fruit pie ad in there. They were nowhere near as funny as they were in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
GWW: What is your all-time favorite issue? Do you also have a favorite current issue?
MC: I think that one is my favorite of all time. It’s definitely my favorite single issue. With the talk of comics, people collect for money, and CGCing their comics and selling them for high dollar value. I like that book, its not worth very much but its worth so much to me personally. That one and Teen Titans #26, if you turn to the back there is a letter printed from Mike Zapcic back when he was 13-years-old. Anytime I see that at comic conventions, we end up buying it just for comedic value. Back then when they publish your letter, they publish your address as well. One day, Mike’s dad came up to him one time and asked why he was getting so much mail from prison inmates. I guess at the Prison they were letting them read comics books so they were writing to a young Mike Zapcic. So that’s another favorite issue.
I’m reading a lot of current stuff right now. More currently, I don’t have one, I almost bought one but I wish I had a copy of Walking Dead #1. I came close to buying one until I blew a tire and had to buy a whole new set of tires. I still have all the same problems most comic book collectors have and as much as we have to fend under a certain budget.
GWW: Any TV series you are currently keeping up with? I’m sure Walking Dead is up there.
MC: Yeah, I have been keeping up with The Walking Dead. The Flash is another. Agents of Shield. Preacher is a big one for me right now. That is one I have been waiting 20-something years to see in any live-action form. They almost made a movie version in 1998. I think it was a little too early to speak about religion and The Saint of Killers and Abominations between Heaven and Earth. I think now would be a right time to do it. Looks like they are pulling it off really well. Also, Season 2 of Daredevil was pretty much perfect. Jon Berthal IS the Punisher, there is no doubt about that. Someone asked me the other day, ‘Do you think people now have it too good?’, ‘Do they complain too much?’ and my answer to that is ‘Absolutely’. I think kids have it way too easy these days. I don’t know how old you are but I am probably a little older than you. Back in my day we had the Lou Ferrigno Hulk, the crappy live-action Spider-Man. Dolph Lundgren was my Punisher. David Hasselhoff was Nick Fury. We didn’t have much of a choice. Now there is a new cool movie every week and several cool TV shows going on. Appreciate what you have kids.
GWW: Haha, I am 27. I didn’t have the Lou Ferrigno Hulk, I was fortunate to grow up with the 90’s animated X-Men and Spider-Man. I am definitely grateful for these films.
MC: I hear a lot of whining these days. Some of it is justified. I mean, Batman V Superman, was it a great movie? No. But Did I like it? I definitely liked it. Zack Snyder made some questionable decisions about some plot points but in the end, I’m sitting back in the theater with my sweet reclining seat, with my giant Icee and my giant popcorn watching Batman and Superman fighting it out and they finally got Wonder Woman correct… I was pretty happy about that.
GWW: With all the super hero films that have been coming out in the past 15 years, What would you say your favorite was?
MC: I think my top favorite would probably be the first Iron Man. I think Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man.
GWW: Absolutely. Iron Man is my number one as well.
MC: They nailed the suit. They nailed the plot point. They nailed the origin story. That first Iron Man was pretty awesome. I have to give it to the first Blade too. That movie kicked off Marvel movies to me. You got to give them credit for making that. It was a pretty ballsy movie at the time, so you got to give them credit for that. Civil War too, it was amazing. Civil War hit all my geek point buttons for sure. I loved seeing Tom Holland Spider-Man. The old school Steve Ditko, John Romita suit. They did an amazing job with that.
GWW: Agreed. I can’t wait for the upcoming solo Spidey film. What are your thoughts on Michael Keaton possibly playing the villain in the film?
MC: I would be all for that. I’m loving this trend of the same person playing two comic book characters in their lifetime. They got Ben Affleck, Chris Evans, now Michael Keaton. He is great, a great actor. I remember back then everyone had their doubts, like ‘Mr. Mom is going to be playing Batman?’ He definitely pulled it off to where even now folks say he is their favorite Batman.
GWW: So last month Kevin Smith had confirmed a sixth season.
MC: That’s correct. We start shooting in a month and we’ll be back when Walking Dead comes back in October.
MC: That’s one of my favorite things about the show. I’m pushing for more comic book creators. You never know, Walter [Flanagan], Mike [Zapcic] and Bryan [Johnson] are late 70’s kids. I’m an early 80’s kid so any icons from that time period, I would love to see. Stayed tuned, you might be surprised.
GWW: How awesome is it to air right after The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead?
MC: I don’t think there is a better time slot in the planet. For me, it’s exciting. I was a big Walking Dead fan before all this started. I read the comic book and saw the first season of the TV show and loved it. I have since been able to meet all these actors from the show so that’s cool. We are pretty lucky. I think a lot of people say they like watching both. You have the heavy, dark, killing zombies on TWD then you have us 5 idiots joking around. They call it a good palate cleanse. A nice dessert after a good dinner.
GWW: Haha, I can see that. The Walking Dead is definitely one of those shows that you get your anxiety going, tuning into Comic Book Men is a great way to laugh off whatever traumatic scene we just witnessed an hour prior.
Right, that’s cool. Lately, I have been hearing people say they don’t even watch The Walking Dead and they just watch us which baffles me. I will definitely take that but I just don’t see it.
Is there one person you would love to see swing by the shop?
MC: I have a couple. Pop Culture, TV, Movie wise, I would love to see George Lucas. Not just about Star Wars but I’d want to talk about American Graffiti and Howard the Duck. I would love to hear what was going through his head when he first started writing Star Wars, if the success changed him and what he thinks now about the prequels. I wouldn’t hold back. I don’t know if he would answer that, I’m not sure but I would love to ask him about anything and everything Star Wars.
GWW: Aside from Comicpalooza, what else do you have coming up?
MC: We start shooting the show and we will be shooting that all summer. Also, I love going to comic book conventions all over the country and hopefully all over the world someday. I love meeting anyone who watches the show. I have a lot of little kids, both male and female who watch the show too. I think it’s really cool that they are into the show as well. I wish I was younger I had something like this I could watch and learn from.
GWW: That also goes back to ‘the younger generation having it easier’.
MC: Well I find interesting that comic books aren’t really read by kids anymore. There aren’t that many comic books for kids. Most comics these days are read by adults.
GWW: Really? I do see the younger audiences being drawn to comic book films, especially the Marvel films. I think because of this, we will start seeing more kids drawn to reading comics as well.
MC: Another thing that’s cool about the movie world, we are seeing a lot of characters I personally never thought I would ever see on the big screen. Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man. I never thought we would see them. It’s cool that kids are being exposed to that. Their old runs can be picked up on Marvel for them to catch up on. Hand them that and they can get the entire history on the character.
Thanks for chatting with us before things kick off at Comicpalooza next week. We’ll definitely be there. The line-up is great.
MC: I love Comicpalooza, and their staff. I love the city of Houston. They always welcome me with open arms. If you are at the convention, please do come by and lets talk Star Wars, lets talk Civil War, lets talk The Walking Dead. Just swing by the table.
GWW: Will do!
Ming is one of the nicest guys, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. You can meet Ming Chen at Comicpalooza, taking place this weekend in Houston. He will also be returning to AMC with the rest of the crew for Comic Book Men season 6 in October. GWW will be at Comicpalooza this weekend as well, so if you are around the area, come say hello!