Cryptozoic Man Comic Announced

Comic Book Men cast members Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan to collaborate on a new horror comic series.

Dynamite Entertainment has announced a spooky new horror comic to be released in October.

Cryptozoic Man (named after cryptozoology, the study of creatures whose existence has not been scientifically proven) tells the story of one man’s sacrifices to save his daughter after she is kidnapped while the two are out searching for Bigfoot. The man is himself captured by Grey Aliens and, in order to save his daughter, tasked with tracking down the rest of the ‘cryptids’ known to man. It mixes elements of classic horror and the paranormal with science fiction concepts to create what is, according to its writer Bryan Johnson, “a delicious monstery stew”.

CryptozoicMan

How the comic came to be is quite another story; Bryan Johnson of course is part of Kevin Smith’s View Askew and Smodcast empire, known these days for being on AMC series Comic Book Men and for co-creating the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave podcast with CBM co-star Walt Flanagan and Bryan ‘Q’ Quinn of a different TV programme, Impractical Jokers. In a Comic Book Men episode of season two – set in Smith’s Secret Stash comic shop and also starring Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic – the cast are put to work by Walt to create their very own comic book. After coming up with a few of the more outlandish main characters between them, the guys go along to successfully pitch their chilling tale to well-known comics studio Dynamite Entertainment.

(Sheerly by coincidence I’m sure, Smith bills the studio on the programme as “[publishers of] the Green Hornet, Bionic Man…” – both properties which he wrote issues of and for.)

Before anyone gets on their high horse and lays into the guys that they wouldn’t even have the Dynamite gig if it wasn’t for Smith’s clout in the comics industry and having their names on a national TV show, two points:

1)      These guys are usually the first ones to admit that they get by with podcasting, TV and writing gigs precisely because of Kevin’s clout.

2)      Cryptozoic Man will be the third comic series made by Johnson and Flanagan – Karny and War of the Undead have previously been published by IDW; both well before their AMC TV show came along and to great reviews.

Written by Bryan Johnson and very capably drawn by Walt Flanagan if these preview pages are anything to go by, the first in a four-part series of Cryptozoic Man will be released in October. Will you be picking up a copy?

Comic Book Men review

I’ve spoken before about my near-all-encompassing love for the work of Kevin Smith, but for me his reality TV series leaves a lot to be desired.

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Comic Book Men is an American reality TV show set in Smith’s New Jersey comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The shop is officially staffed by Walt Flanagan and Mike Zapcic, though the programme also stars long-time friends and colleagues Ming Chen and Bryan Johnson. Under the guise of recording one of Kevin’s many podcasts, the five cast members commentate on each week’s happenings around the shop, with a good bit of comic collectors’ heaven thrown in thanks to the Pawn Stars-like segments where hopeful sellers have their vintage merchandise appraised and negotiated for.

I found that there are two main big improvements on season one; the first of which is the halving of the running time. At only half an hour including commercials, viewers would be left wanting more from week to week, whereas they struggled to make an entertaining hour the first time round. The other big difference is the change in Walt’s character; I’m a huge fan of the weekly podcast Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave! (which he and Johnson record with fellow TV star Bryan ‘Q’ Quinn of Impractical Jokers) and I can see that the mercenary attitude which Walt takes to shop-keeping is an admirable trait when backed up with the warmly sarcastic tone he possesses in the studio; as opposed to being just the curmudgeonly sod he came across as onscreen in season one. The four friends’ onscreen relationship isn’t without its moments of one-upmanship and snark but it comes across much better when played out in shorter bursts.

But that’s what bothers me about Comic Book Men, reality TV in general, and specifically American reality TV; it really is played out. There are so many fake-looking moments in the programme; too much clumsy editing and lines which are being said for a third, fourth, fifth time to get the proper reaction and microphone pick-up. For someone who made his millions by writing real and believable characters and situations, Smith’s artificial spotlight on his friends – which I definitely read somewhere that Walt didn’t even want to be a part of – comes off as too contrived.

It definitely has its fun moments; the Zombie Run storyline was a big favourite, and I like it enough to say it’s one of my absolute favourite reality TV shows. But there’s the rub – reality TV is my absolute least favourite kind of TV. I’ll just stick with the podcast(s).