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Tag Archives: Hardcore Pawn

Comic Book Men on AMC, Part 3: What Happened?

13 Oct

October 13, 2014

So as Allan Keyes explained yesterday, he had a bunch of comics on eBay and a producer reached out to him and asked if he’d like to be on the show. After he recorded a demo tape (in which he held the comics with their backs to the camera and I recorded him upside down) we were asked to come down to the store.

So for all you reality TV fans, including Hardcore Pawn, this is how they get those weird items. Most of them DO NOT just walk into the store, the producers seek them out. And the weirder the people, the better chance they’ll make the show. Why do think that in a  busy store like the one on Hardcore Pawn people walk in the front door and straight up to one of the owners, who is not working but looks like he’s standing there waiting? That’s because he is waiting. The producers set it up that way.

But at least the owners appear on that show. Kevin Smith is nearly never at his store. (In his defense, he is busy with other things.)

We went to the Comic Book Men production studios, located right across the street from the store. You can walk right past it and never know what it is, since it looks like an old, closed restaurant. But inside, it is a hive of activity. In addition to doing all the production and editing work on the show, the podcast is recorded there too. If you are a comic book fan dreaming of seeing the inner workings of the show, I’m about to throw some cold water on you. This is a working TV studio, not comic geek heaven. Other than the comic book posters on the walls, this could be the production studios for General Hospital or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It was cool to us in the sense that it is something we never get to see, but it isn’t cool as in you’d like to hang out there. And trust me, we did hang out there in the microscopic green room, in which there was a basket of Sun Chips and a couple of bottles of water for us. It was not fancy- two folding chairs and nothing else but the snacks. While we were waiting for our turn to shoot, periodically the camera man would pop in (for a camera test), a producer (to get us to sign forms) or an assistant (to take the comics away for some close-up and insert shots.)

Then it was time to go to the store and film.

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Despite how they make it appear, the store is NOT open on filming days. Only pre-selected people get to enter. They pretend on TV that the store is open and people just randomly walk in with items to sell, but the truth is that the guys have already been prepped on what is coming in. They have done research online, they know what things are selling (or not selling) for, and have already researched the history of the item. The guys seem like know-it-alls on the show, but they’ve already done their homework on the items days before. And the banter while they are hanging behind the counter? Well, it isn’t scripted, but they’ve already discussed what they are going to discuss.

On way they make it seem like the store is open is by having paid extras in the background. On the day I was there, one of the extras was actually the mother of one of the guys, two were extras hired from a company, and one was me.

I was told to stand in a particular area (which was, luckily, near the counter where the filming took place so I had a good shot of getting on camera.) The only directions were 1- flip through the new comics on the wall or the old ones in the bins, whatever I felt like 2- don’t talk and 3- don’t look into the cameras. I more or less obeyed that one.

Before I go on, a note about the store. As you’ve seen on TV, it looks very cool. They have a ton of toys on display, and posters, and recent comics on spinner racks in the back. But when I was there, I got the impression that the store had been shut for filming for awhile. The new comics were in reality a couple of weeks old and bent and creased as if they had been badly handled by all the extras who had come before me.

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So I was in one area and the two company extras were across from me. One was a business suit type who couldn’t care less about comics, this was just an acting job to him. The other was an old hippie with a pony tail wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He hadn’t seen a comic since he was a kid and was in such child-like rapture that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

“Whoa, whoa man, the Fantastic Four! “
“Hey, Batman! I didn’t know they still made him!”
“Justice League? Hey, hey, I remember that man, I remember that!”

The producers had to remind him to be quiet.

So filming got started and I flipped through the back issues because that kept my face toward the filming, otherwise all you’d see would be my back. Then Allan Keyes walked in and I had to keep myself from laughing at how stiff he was. While he filmed, as he described in yesterday’s column, I kept creeping closer and closer. The filming took maybe half an hour, with retakes and inserts, close-ups and better quips. Keyes had one funny line I cannot repeat not because it is unsuitable for television, but because his wife may not have the sense of humor we hope she has.

And then it was over. Keyes didn’t sell his items to the guys, but after filming the producer bought them from him for a pretty good number.

Then we waited for the show to air and we never saw our segment. I didn’t find out why but two funny things happened since then. Right after the third show of last season (the one we expected to be on) aired, the casting director called, said she saw our demo tape, would we like to be on the show? We told her we just filmed it over the summer and she never got back to us.

Then, just a few weeks ago, the same casting director called and said she saw our demo tape, would we like to be one the show?

Sure, love to!

 

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Fairy Tale Theater: Dracula

19 Dec

December 19, 2013

Today wraps up Fairy Tale Theater. Starting tomorrow, Mr. Blog’s Annual Christmas Celebration, starring old and traditional favorites like Santa and Fonzie.

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from February 6, 2013

Vlad Dracula

The story begins with a man named Jonathan Harker. We know his name is Jonathan Harker because it turns out that we are not reading Dracula at all, we are reading The Diary of Jonathan Harker. (This book is totally misnamed.) Anyway, Harker is on his way to Transylvania, a wild and desolate place that in the distant place was the center of the US automobile industry but now stands deserted, with crumbling buildings and rampant crime and horror. Oh, sorry, that’s Detroit. Take out the part about the auto industry and the rest still stands. Neither is a place any sane person would want to visit.

Harker is going to see a man named Count von Count Dracula. The Count loves to count things and lives in a filthy castle full of his beloved trash. He is also a vampire, although Harker doesn’t know that. What Harker does know is that every single person he meets tells him not to go to Detroit- I mean Dracula’s castle. They urge him to turn back, they warn him of the evils and horror that await, they tie him up and try to ship him back to England in a box, all to no avail. You see, Harker is a traveling salesman and he is there to sell Amway to Count von Count Dracula and those Amway salesmen don’t take no for an answer.

Things got off to a strange start when Harker’s ride to the Count von Count’s castle arrived. The coachman was wearing a hood pulled low over his face and a pair of Groucho nose/glasses. As Harker later found out, it was none other than The Count himself. Turns out he had fired all of his servants when they ran out of blood.

Things did not go well in Count von Count Dracula’s castle. The food was spoiled, the days were boring and the nightlife sucked… so to speak. Eventually it became clear to Harker that Dracula was not interested in buying any Amway. Problem was he didn’t realize it until Dracula had already departed for London and left Harker locked in the basement with his ex-wives.

Meanwhile, in another book I mean back in England, Miss Lucy Westenwhore was torn between her three lovers. One was a rich American Texan, one was a rich English nobleman, and one was rich, nothing else matters, does it? Well, yada yada yada, nothing much happens for a long time except that Lucy’s friend Mina, who happened to be Harker’s wife, began to wonder where her husband was. She didn’t wonder too loudly, however, being surrounded by rich single guys.

Meanwhile, in a complete and total coincidence of the sort only found in these types of novels that feature complete and total coincidences, right next door to our main characters is an insane asylum. Now if you are anything like me you’d think having a nuthouse next door would be a deal breaker and no way would I live there, but back in those days it was considered pretty cool and as more and more areas of London got gentrified insane asylums popped up everywhere. They were the Starbucks of their time.

About now I should mention that Dracula has been printed all over the world in dozens of languages and editions. If you are reading the black and white 1931 Universal Studios edition, Dracula wears very elegant evening clothes, as if he is on his way to dinner with the Queen and not actually on his way to dig himself out of his filthy grave. If you are reading the 1958 Hammer Studios version, Dracula is written in color and looks like Christopher Lee.  In neither version does he sparkle.

Count von Count“Long story short” is an often overused cliché but in this case it is totally accurate. Depending on the edition you are reading, and this is true, Count von Count Dracula does not appear in the middle of the book for almost 200 pages. This is no joke. A lot of the dialogue is like “where’s Dracula? We have to find Dracula” and “where can Dracula be? We have to find him before the sun comes up.” See? Long story short. I just saved you 200 pages. (And somewhere along the way Lucy dies and comes back as a vampire and then really dies. That’s a spoiler, sorry.)

Here is the story in convenient bullet point format. (Convenient for me- less typing.)

  • Dracula comes to England by boat and gorges on the all-you-can–eat buffet
  • Dracula is invited into the mental asylum by one of the inmates and- hold on to your hat- one of the main characters is a doctor who also lives there, giving Dracula free reign of the house.
  • A lot of people get attacked, including the residents of a ghetto who see Dracula in his bat form and try to capture “the black chicken.”

Meanwhile, Dr. “Van” Helsing, the one important character whom I should have mentioned long before this arrives and teaches the Scooby Gang how to defeat a vampire.

HOW TO KILL A VAMPIRE

  • Drive a wooden stake through his heart
  • Cut off his head
  • Trap him under running water
  • Expose him to sunlight
  • Force him to watch Twilight
  • Didja notice the bullet points again? I am so lazy when it comes to typing. Which begs the question of why I am still typing this thought. Hmmmm….

It is also interesting to note that any and all of those methods will also kill a mugger, except maybe that sunlight thing. Just throwing that out there in case you get into trouble.

Anywho, for no reason other than he’s running out of places to hide (in London of all places!) Dracula flees back to his trash-filled Transylvania castle, pursued by the rich white guys who follow his every move by using a strange psychic connection between Mina and the Count. It turns out that they came up as matches on J-Date and that site is never wrong.

Dracula makes it thisclose to his castle and freedom when, again depending on the version you are reading, he gets his head cut off outside the castle, he gets staked in his coffin, or Peter Cushing chases him into the castle where, using a pair of candlesticks held together as a cross, forces the Count into the sunlight where he crumbles into dust, except for his ring, which somehow later turns up later in Detroit on Hardcore Pawn.

This is the first of a series of Count von Count adventures, in which Count von Count Dracula moves to a typical American soundstage and takes up residence in a trashcan, emerging only to teach kids how to count before draining their blood on public television.

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