Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic from Comic Book Men are at NYCC 2017 and ComicsVerse has the exclusive. Brandon Bloxdorf sits in on a panel with the men behind Comic Book Men. They talk about everything from RIVERDALE to IRON FIST and so much more!

Speaker 1: Now legitimate questions only.

Mike Zapcic: Or not. I don’t want to answer legit questions.

Speaker 1: You guys have… This year you’ve got Rosario, and you’ve got-

Ming Chen: Yes.

Mike Zapcic: Mike Culture.

Speaker 1: Robert Englund.

Ming Chen: Yes.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah, and Robert Englund.

Speaker 3: Oh my god.

Speaker 1: And like, Burt Ward.

Ming Chen:  Yes.

Speaker 1: Do you sit down and do a wish list every year?

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Mike Zapcic: We do.

Speaker 1: Or is it mostly just–

Mike Zapcic: No, it’s … We do a wish list, and they say, “Nope. Nope. Can’t afford them. Nope. Nope. Nope.”

Ming Chen: Yeah, we aim high for some of them. George Lucas. Harrison Ford. Linda Carter. There’s some who will probably never be on the show.  But, if you don’t ask, the answer’s always “No.”

Speaker 5: Maybe Jimmy Carter, maybe he’ll be a little more-

Mike Zapcic: Jimmy Carter? No. No. No.

Speaker 3: Have you guys ever gotten a really funny response to like… “Hey do, you guys want to come by” and–

Mike Zapcic: I’ll tell you something, that a cast member of The Brady Bunch, who will remain nameless. Marcia. Marcia. Marcia. Was supposed to be on, but then she found out … she was all excited about it … “Oh yeah, The Comic Book Men. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Then she found out that Kevin wasn’t going to be there when she was shooting and Wah, Waaahhh.”

Ming Chen: Yeah, I guess that’s the other element. You want people who want to be there as well.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah.

Ming Chen: It makes it way more fun.

Mike Zapcic: …And not just for, you know-

Speaker 5: Who can you say was the most… I guess, comic book knowledgeable that you brought on that you wouldn’t expect.

Ming Chen: Method Man, definitely.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah, Method Man was awesome.

Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic
Ming Chen on Comic Book Men.

Ming Chen: Yeah, I had no idea he was-

Mike Zapcic: DMC.

Ming Chen: Yeah, DMC is way into comics.

Mike Zapcic: Darrel knew his stuff. Actually, I was kind of hoping season eight we could bring Method Man and DMC and have them rap battle against him.

Ming Chen: Yeah, I guess it must be a cornerstone to becoming a rap god is you’ve got to like comic books. And everyone thinks they’re just hard lives and gangsters and whatever. But, no they are-

Mike Zapcic: Comic book nerds.

Ming Chen: Yeah, they’re comic book nerds at heart. And then a lot-

Mike Zapcic: Not even at heart, in real life.

Ming Chen: Yeah. And if you listen to a lot of their lyrics, some of their song titles are like “Oh, yeah. He’s writing about the Hulk. Or Thor, in this one. Or Wolverine, definitely. So, yeah.”

Speaker 1: Who was your favorite person you had on the show this season?

Mike Zapcic: This season?

Speaker 1: Yes.

Mike Zapcic: I’ve got to tell you. And I think Bryan will back me up on this one, but the most surprisingly, amazing guest we had? Burt Ward.

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Speaker 5: Oh, that’s great.

Mike Zapcic: It was… He was… We went into it thinking one thing, and it turned out to be another thing. And it was, he was amazing. Even Bryan was like, “I was completely prepared, I was ready to go, balls deep in hating this guy. And guess what? I actually really liked him.” And he wanted to spend more time with him. I thought that was great.

Speaker 1: Is there anybody that you guys have had that you’re just star struck yourself, that is someone you’ve always wanted to-

Mike Zapcic:  Stan Lee. Of course.

Ming Chen: Yeah, Stan Lee’s definitely … anyone from the original Star Wars Universe. Like-

Mike Zapcic:  Peter Mayhew.

Ming Chen: Yeah, Peter Mayhew. It was like, “I’m standing here with Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian.” It’s-

Mike Zapcic: You are not cool enough to be in the same presence as Lando or Chewy.

Ming Chen: No.

Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic
Mike Zapcic on Comic Book Men.

Mike Zapcic:  I mean, I’m not. But you definitely aren’t.

Ming Chen: No. Yeah. Yeah. Yet, there we are.  And then we go over to the creator’s side like Kevin Eastman and Jim Lee. You know, those are guys that-

Mike Zapcic: Neal Adams. You know, George Perez for god’s [crosstalk 00:03:20] Oh, amazing guys.

Ming Chen: They shape these universes that regrow breeding and loving and without that … is there a New York Comic Con? And are we sitting here in front of you? I don’t know. I don’t even want to think about that. But without their passion and their talent, comics and pop culture don’t explode like they have now. They’ve made our lives a lot more fun.

Speaker 1: What do you think has made the show so successful? Throughout all these seasons and keeping it fresh every-

Mike Zapcic: I think we have our fans go into old folks homes and turn on the TVs and just leave them on AMC.

Speaker 1:  That’s where all the ratings come from.

Mike Zapcic:  That’s where they come from.

Ming Chen: I think when they first said they were going to make a show, I’m like, “Who’s going to watch four old dudes sitting in a comic store, yelling at each other about Star Wars and George Perez?”

Mike Zapcic: It turns out, a million other old dudes–

Ming Chen: Turns out-

Mike Zapcic: Who wish they could sit in a comic shop.

Ming Chen: Turns out, in every comic store and every arcade and every dead-end job, there’s that group of guys sitting around arguing about Back To The Future, time machines, Game of Thrones, the Force, Starfleet Academy. Whatever. But they’re having the same daily conversations. So they can relate to us. For sure.

Speaker 3: Speaking of conversations, is there any news that just broke, like right now, about comic book movies being made that you guys are really interested in and want to talk about?

Ming Chen: Uh, I don’t know about interested in. But a couple weeks ago, they announced that they might be making two Joker movies. And I’m like “Really?”

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Speaker 3: Oh god, yeah. Don’t get me started.

Ming Chen: I’m like, “Why are you fracturing the DC Universe even more.”

Mike Zapcic: Exactly.

Ming Chen: Listen, we love the Joker. Everyone here loves the Joker. We don’t need two Joker movies.

Mike Zapcic: No, you barely need one. And I mean, they already made it. It was called Batman 89 and let’s move on. Or-

Speaker 3: The Dark Knight was–

Mike Zapcic: It was alright. You know what? I’m not going to crap on a guy that’s dead, but you know, you got a posthumous Oscar for it.

Speaker 3: He did.

Mike Zapcic: So, I think that should speak for itself. The thing that happened that … the fact that DC Cinematic Universe is not going to be cohesive. That pisses me off.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Zapcic: Cause I got to be honest. We, as a group, comic book nerds, we love continuity. So why aren’t we getting continuity here?

Speaker 5: What do you think would have happened if he never passed away? Do you think DC–

Mike Zapcic: Who Heath Ledger?

Speaker 5: Yeah.

Mike Zapcic: If he didn’t pass away, would they have had another-

Speaker 5: Would they have taken the same direction of having a big universe Marvel-style, or do you think they would have kept making Christopher Nolan’s final-

Mike Zapcic: No, I think that Christopher Nolan had his time and then they moved on and then they went back to it. So, I think that it’s … They don’t have a plan. That’s my problem with them.

They’ve got some of the most creative minds in the comic forum out there. You’ve got Geoff Johns, you’ve got a whole bunch of other guys who he can call upon to … “Hey, come help me shepherd this cinematic universe.”

Do it. Have a plan; a ten-year plan. Have a five-year plan; a two-year plan. And shift accordingly. Because for me, it’s like … you need your continuity. You need it.  Every universe has to have its own internal logic.

Ming Chen: I think had he not died, they would have given him another superhero role. Like everybody plays two now.

Mike Zapcic: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s anything else he could have done.

Speaker 3: Actually, they did have talks–

[crosstalk 00:06:45]

–about Batman. They had talks, for third movie it was going to be the Joker again. But it was going to be him breaking out of Arkham Asylum with Harley Quinn, they would have introduced her way earlier.

Mike Zapcic: See, now that would have been genius.

Ming Chen: I’m in. I’m in. I want to see this movie.

Mike Zapcic: And you know who I would have loved to have seen as Harley Quinn back then? Kristen Bell. I think she would have been fantastic for it. Right?

Speaker 5: Is it possible to recover from the damage of losing a major actor, like HeatLedgerer, like that I mean, they’ve obviously gotten Jared Leto, which is a major talent-

Ming Chen: Yeah, but–

[crosstalk 00:07:14]

–Yeah, he ain’t the Joker though. Heath Ledger, yeah. Recovering? I mean, you can try. You can try.

Mike Zapcic: And I personally think his was the be-all, end-all. Although I think it was an interesting take on the Joker.

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Speaker 3:  Sure. Jared Leto’s?

Mike Zapcic:  No, not-

Speaker 3:  Oh, I was going to say, whoa-

Mike Zapcic: No, Heath Ledger. You had, the … Actually, what’s that shirt that has all the … the real three Jokers on there. Cesar Romero, the lunatic. You have the gangster. And then you have the psychopath. That to me is like the three stages of the Joker.

Speaker 3:  Yeah.

Speaker 5: [inaudible 00:07:54] — Just make up a film that came out killing Joker.

Mike Zapcic: That one? Less said the better. I really didn’t need to see Barbara Gordon and Bruce Wayne going at it.

Ming Chen: Yeah, that was weird. It was an odd decision. I knew it-

Speaker 5: What about Batman and Harley Quinn?

Mike Zapcic: Again, I have not seen it because I don’t need to see Batman going at it with Harley Quinn.

Ming Chen: Interesting takes, I know they need to fill out time, but that really wasn’t the way to do it.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah seriously. How about, Alfred gives a cooking lesson.

Speaker 1: We really need a decent pornographic universe.

Speaker 3: Oh yeah.

Ming Chen: There probably is one.

[crosstalk 00:08:27]

Mike Zapcic: We do.

There is one. I’m sorry.

Ming Chen: Yeah.

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Mike Zapcic: Actually, Ming and I-

Speaker 5: It’s on the internet.

Mike Zapcic: Actually, Ming and I are friends with Sunny Lane, who was Batgirl XXX. So, yeah.

Speaker 3: Oh, wow.

Ming Chen: Oh, cool. Yeah, but uh-

Speaker 1: So you are going to bring her on Comic Book Men?

Mike Zapcic: We have suggested it.

Ming Chen: We aren’t on until midnight. It might work.

Speaker 1: There you go.

Ming Chen:  Yeah. There’s a gentleman out there by the name of Axil Braun. He’s the king of the porn parodies.

Mike Zapcic: The smut parodies. Yes.

Ming Chen: Apparently, they’re sometimes even better. Like the product values. And unlike DC, he’s following continuity and gospel and cannon, and it’s pretty crazy how-

Mike Zapcic: We were at a Con. We were at a Porn Con. No, we were at a Con together.

Ming Chen: That’s next week.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah, the Porn Con. We go separately. And in overcoats and sunglasses.

No, we were at a Con, and you know how they have the tables of the people who sell the bootleg DVDs? I bought Ming the bootleg Avengers: A Porn Parody. It was amazing, right?

Ming Chen: I saw the cover, I never even watched it.

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Speaker 3: Special effects.

Ming Chen: I mean, what more do I need?

Mike Zapcic: Really? Then I want it back.

Ming Chen: Even the cover was awesome. Yeah.

Mike Zapcic: But that’s the one with Chyna as She-Hulk.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Mike Zapcic:  The late one. Lamentably late Chyna. I mean, it was like-

Speaker 1:  I co-host a Riverdale podcast, and we’re doing a Beaverdale episode.

Ming Chen: Oh, nice.

Mike Zapcic: Alright.

Speaker 3: Just speaking about the She-Hulk stuff, is there one comic book character and actor you think would be end-all, best portrayal, like a dream-

Ming Chen: Oh, that hasn’t happened yet?

Speaker 3: Yeah, hasn’t happened yet.

Mike Zapcic: Wow.

Ming Chen:  Such a great question.

Mike Zapcic: That is a really good question.

Ming Chen: I mean, one who’s left that you want to see.

Speaker 5: Why do you think Mark Hamill hasn’t ever gotten that live action Joker spot? I mean, he does the voice.

Mike Zapcic: I don’t … He’s … Yeah, it’s the voice, though. I think it’s not the physical presence.

Speaker 1: I think he’s more Trickster then Joker.

Mike Zapcic: Yep.

Speaker 1: Correct? Yeah?

“Comic Book Men.”

Mike Zapcic: Good answer.

Speaker 5:  That was a great answer.

Speaker 1: What are your current favorite humble TV shows?

Mike Zapcic: I love Flash.

Ming Chen: Yeah, Flash is killing it for sure.

Mike Zapcic: I hear Riverdale is going to bring in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Speaker 3: Oh, they are. They are doing the dark one.

Mike Zapcic: Like, evil. Yeah. The Chilling Adventures or something.

Speaker 3: They are doing the zombie, from the Archie one. What’s it called?

Mike Zapcic: Afterlife with Archie.

Speaker 3: Yeah, that’s what they’re doing.

Mike Zapcic: And The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead’s my favorite.

Ming Chen: Oh yeah, for sure.

Mike Zapcic: And I have to kiss my AMC overlord’s ass.

Ming Chen: Our bread to butter. Yeah, we gotta butter our bread a little bit. I like it, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m a big Ming-Na Wen fan. I think it’s fun seeing Asian women kicking ass on screen.

Mike Zapcic: And I have not seen the Inhumans yet.

Speaker 1: I haven’t yet.

Ming Chen: Yeah, I’m hearing that-

Speaker 5: It was better than the reviews.

Speaker 3: The Gifted is good. The Gifted. That’s good. If you want to watch a superhero one.

Mike Zapcic: Then I will watch the Gif-

Ming Chen: The thing about Inhumans, I haven’t seen it, but I heard that they didn’t have enough money to CGI Medusa’s hair, so they just shave it off. What the hell?

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Speaker 3:  And even that, it looks like a bad wig.

Ming Chen: What the hell, Mike?

Mike Zapcic: What are you looking at me for? It wasn’t my idea.

Ming Chen: Start a Go-Fund-Me or something.

Mike Zapcic: I don’t like hairy women. I don’t know.

Ming Chen:  That’s different hair, Mike.

Mike Zapcic: Everyone knows that’s not true. So, alright.

Speaker 1: Are there any books you guys are looking forward to coming out soon?

Mike Zapcic: Books that are coming out? Um-

Ming Chen: The Watchmen: Doomsday Clock.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah, Doomsday Clock.

Ming Chen: For sure. Anything with Geoff Johns name on it, we’re in.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah, Doomsday Clock is the ones that got me thinking this is going to be crisis-level awesome.

Ming Chen: …And all the Batman Metals stuff and their offshoots have been really good.

Mike Zapcic: Everything from Red Death to Murder Machines to the last one that came out, The Dawn Breaker. Fantastic. Ethan Van Sciver art, I love him.

Ming Chen: Yeah, if you are here at New York Con. Everyone should go down and talk to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo and kiss their asses right now. They are absolutely great for comics right now.

Mike Zapcic: Thank them for the dark multiverse because it’s a great idea that nobody ever really touched on. I think it’s amazing.

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Speaker 3: Have you guys read The White Knight yet? Or not White Knight-

Mike Zapcic: Yes. It was White Knight. And I have not read White Knight yet.

Speaker 1: Oh, it’s great.

Mike Zapcic: I am looking forward to it as well.

Speaker 1: If you guys like the animated series and the 1995 Batman, you’re going to love some of the pages in there.

Ming Chen: Fantastic.

Speaker 3: Speaking of that actually, are you guys excited about the 25th-anniversary thing? Did you guys want to do something special for that, like possibly talk about it on the show at all or?

Mike Zapcic: We’ll do something.

Ming Chen: Oh yeah.

Mike Zapcic: Our podcast I Sell Comics we will “Hip, hip, hooray for 25 years of Batman: The Animated Series.” And Batman begat Superman, which begat The Justice League, which begat Young Justice, so god bless Batman.

Speaker 1: There are a lot of 25th anniversaries–

Speaker 5: What are your earliest comic book memories?

Mike Zapcic: What’s that?

Speaker 5: What are your earliest comic book memories? Like, when did you first start reading it? Or get really into it?

Mike Zapcic: Oh dear god. I’ve been–

Ming Chen: Instead of ripping up your brother’s comic books and uh-

Mike Zapcic: Yeah, actually my brother borrowed a stack of comic books from a friend. And I was like two or three years old, and I grabbed the pinking shears from my mom’s sewing stuff. My parents did not win parents-of-the-year. I was the youngest of six boys.

So they’re like, “At least he’s not cutting anything human up with it.” So I cut up a bunch of panels of his comic books. I ruined his books. And my father had to pay the kid back for a stack of comic books. 12 cents. I mean, he had to pay him like five bucks. But those books became mine, and then I learned how to read from them.

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Ming Chen: …And here you are.

Mike Zapcic: …And here I am. And that’s my earliest comic book memory.

Speaker 5: How old were you?

Mike Zapcic: Two or three. Yeah.

Speaker 5: What about you?

Ming Chen: I remember getting my first comic book when I was six. Avengers 214. And just being fascinated by every aspect of it. The art, the characters, the Hostess Fruit Pie ads, the Johnson Smith catalog, like X-Ray Spec ads.

Mike Zapcic: He was a bigger fan of Tygra.

Ming Chen: Yes. Oh, yeah.

Mike Zapcic: Because he found out that she was a hairy woman.

Ming Chen: Tygra’s a very beautiful woman who possesses enormous power.

Mike Zapcic: …And enormous hair.

Ming Chen: Right, but. Good, red hair though. Really, I don’t know who styles it. If her and Medusa go to the same-

Mike Zapcic: That would be cool.

Ming Chen: Stylist. But, I remember being fascinated by literally every aspect of that book and I was like, “Wait, there are more of these? Like a hund… like a million more of these?”

Mike Zapcic: I’ll take them.

Ming Chen: Yeah, I’m going to take them and read them for sure.

Speaker 5: Was Avengers the first one you spotted or?

Ming Chen: It was given to me. It was given to me. That’s why if you see a random, wayward kid somewhere give them a comic book. You never know what’ll happen. Or her.

Speaker 3: Alright.

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Mike Zapcic: So, we have one minute. We have time for one more really kick-ass question.

Speaker 3: You guys never answered the question that I asked, what is the-

Speaker 1: Casting.

Speaker 3: Yeah, the casting choice and the person who hasn’t happened yet.

Mike Zapcic: Oh, gotcha. Thank you for giving me that extra six minutes to think about that.

Ming Chen: I’m trying to remember who would be considered like a younger Jackie Chan to play Shang Chi, the master of Kung-Fu.

Mike Zapcic: I don’t know-

Ming Chen: I don’t know if there is one.

Mike Zapcic: If there is a younger Jackie Chan. I would like for them to recast Iron Fist. Would that be possible?

Speaker 3: Oh, god. I wish. I wish.

Mike Zapcic: Nothing against Finn Jones, but let’s get someone somebody who is a martial artist who happens to be blonde or can die his hair blond.

Speaker 3: And I still feel like I have a thing against Finn Jones since Iron Fist, so yeah.

Mike Zapcic: And even Defenders was a little bit whiny, right?

Speaker 3: It was–

Speaker 1: At least they denounced him like, “You’re a terrible Iron Fist, we all acknowledge that.”

Ming Chen: So that’s how they explained it away. Alright. Fair enough.

Speaker 3: I have a huge conspiracy theory about Defenders too.

Speaker 1: People calling him an idiot.

Mike Zapcic: I’d be kind of pissed about that. I’d be like “You know what, I’m a billionaire. Go screw yourself.”

Ming Chen: Anybody have one more?

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Speaker 1: That’s what Mike’s going to put on his business cards.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah. “I’m a billionaire, go screw yourself.”

Speaker 5: How do you feel about Into the Badlands?  You know the-

Mike Zapcic: Um, I’m not all caught on AMC. That’s how I feel about it.

Ming Chen: Yeah.

Speaker 5: Right.

Mike Zapcic: I will kiss my corporate overlord’s ass.

Ming Chen: Me, personally, I like seeing more Asians on TV.

Speaker 5: Do you like Maggie Qu on Designated Survivor?

Ming Chen: Yeah, I’ve loved Maggie Qu since she was on some of the Asian movies but she was in Live Free or Die Hard with Kevin, and I kind of fell in love with her there too.

Mike Zapcic: Speaking of kissing his overlord’s ass.

Ming Chen: Again, her and Michelle Yeoh. Like, Asian women kicking ass is at the top of my list, for sure.

Speaker 1: So last time I was at The Stash it was a much smaller store, across the street from Jacks, that little … the first iteration 15 years ago or some crazy thing. You’ve been there a long time, what’s it been like to watch the evolution of the shop become a major thing?

Mike Zapcic: It’s pretty cool. It’s gone beyond my wildest dreams. I know Walt was … when you start running out of room, and you have to start lifting stuff up … that’s like Jetson’s level crazy because you’re … Yeah, we had to put the Blunt-mobile up, so we had more room for other stuff.

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Ming Chen: But I think despite that, the vibe of the store’s always been the same.

Mike Zapcic: It’s always been the same.

Ming Chen: We just want to sell comics and encourage people to read.

Mike Zapcic:  Yeah.

Ming Chen: And buy something or get out.

Mike Zapcic: Yeah. Pretty much.

Ming Chen: It’s the same. It’s the same vibe.

Mike Zapcic: …And if you plan on shoplifting, let us know.

Ming Chen: Right.

Speaker 3: Alright, thanks, guys. We’re going to swap the guys, so you guys can stay.

Speaker 7: Stay inside? Okay, cool.

Ming Chen: Thanks, guys. Thanks. Good seeing you again.

Mike Zapcic: Come to the store, what the hell?

Speaker 3: I’ll see you guys at the store. I know. I literally live in the same town.

Speaker 5:  Oh, I wish. Thank you so much, man.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I’ll be there. I’ll be there.

Speaker 1: Always.

Speaker 5: Thank you so much.


Speaker 3: I will see you guys. I will see you guys at the store.

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