Where do I start? Let’s see…I got a late start on Kevin Smith fandom. Clerks came out in 1994, but I didn’t see it until 2000 or 2001. Oddly enough, I heard of a little movie called Dogma before I heard of Clerks, Mallrats, or Chasing Amy, all of which were before Dogma.
Let’s start at the beginning.
I graduated high school in 2000 and stayed home and went to a community college. The plan was to knock out my general courses and get my Associate’s Degree on their dime (academic scholarship) and then go on to a university and finish my Bachelor’s Degree and become a teacher. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way and instead, after finishing my Associate’s, I went on to broadcast school. But the friendships I made at small Kaskaskia College in Centralia, IL were some of the most important of my life, and I’m still friends with many of those people today.
One kid I met in college (we’ll call him Billy, since that was his name) introduced me to a couple of characters named Jay and Silent Bob. Billy let me borrow Clerks, and from there I borrowed Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. I was hooked. I loved how all the movies were inter-connected (before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was the View Askew-niverse). I should clarify that I borrowed these movies originally, but later purchased them. I had the first four movies on video cassette.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was different. I recognized at that point that the industry was changing. Actually, it had changed, I was just behind the times. My last semester in college, I took a Film History course, and one of our assignments was a video report on a movie, actor, director, etc. I chose Kevin Smith. I pieced together bits of the videos from the five movies mentioned above, talking about how they were all connected, how he used actors in different roles (Brian O’Halloran being my main example), how there was a nerdy theme throughout all of the movies.
Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back was my first movie on DVD before I had a DVD player. I bought it on vacation in June of 2002 and didn’t get an XBox for probably six months. I would watch it on my mom’s old laptop that she wasn’t using anymore.
I’m going to make a HUGE step forward now and say that without Kevin Smith, Nerds United wouldn’t be a thing. I wouldn’t have a podcast. I wouldn’t have started my own podcast network. You wouldn’t be reading this at all…if not for Kevin Smith.
It was February 2012 and I had just upgraded to an iPhone 5. I had been watching Comic Book Men on AMC for a few weeks and assumed that when the guys (Kevin, Bryan, Walt, Mike, and Ming) were sitting around the table talking, that it was an actual podcast recording. So I went to find it on my new iTunes podcast app. I didn’t find it, but I did find a little show called Fatman on Batman. I remember the first episode I listened to was Part One of the Grant Morrison two-parter. I did that on the way to and from Effingham, IL to broadcast some high school boys basketball.
I was instantly hooked to the show and would go back and listen to all of the previous episodes. Those early episodes with Mark Hamill, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Tara Strong, Kevin Conroy, Adam West, Scott Snyder…I mean…people who have worked on or been a part of Batman lore – some of the best podastin’ I’ve ever heard. When he sat down with my favorite author, Brad Meltzer, I was quite simply in heaven.
But the reason I’m here (and the reason you’re here) is because, in his own inspirational way, Smith said (and I’m paraphrasing) “if you’ve got something you want to say or create, just do it.” I had something I wanted to say. So here we are. I later found his weekly podcast Hollywood Babble-On, and that’s a go-to every Monday morning, when I update my podcast downloads and hope to see it there for its regular laughs.
Smith gets a lot of heat online anytime his name is mentioned. Any time his name pops up on a headline, often the comments include “who cares what Kevin Smith says,” etc.
My problem with that is 1) Kevin Smith isn’t in charge of news sites writing about him and B) people are just some jealous bastards.
The guy has legitimate geek cred. He wrote for Marvel and DC (Daredevil, Batman, and Green Arrow runs come to mind), as well as Green Hornet. He has directed The Flash and Supergirl. But my takeaway from Smith is “find something you love doing and find a way to make a living from it.” Here’s a guy who wrote and directed a movie on a budget of about $27,000. And from those humble beginnings, is a household name and a global brand.
His more recent stuff, the “True North Trilogy,” is a little off beat and left of center. Tusk was a really messed up movie. Yoga Hosers was an oddball teen comedy. And I enjoyed them both. MooseJaws (like Jaws, but with a moose) is the third one in the lineup and should be a fun picture as well.
Perhaps the coolest thing about Smith is that he marches to the beat of his own drum and doesn’t care. He said (paraphrasing again) that by and large, the public wasn’t going out to see the movies he made that he thought they wanted, so he just started making movies that he wanted to see. Tusk originated from a conversation on one of his podcasts.
Regardless of your opinion of Smith, his “I’m going to do it my way, with or without you” attitude is to be commended. He sees your “that can’t be done” and responds with a “watch me do it.”
It was just announced on a recent episode of Fatman on Batman that Smith was tapped (he’d find that dirty…and hilarious) to write, direct, and produce a Sam and Twitch series for BBC America.
The guy travels the world with his friends doing live shows of his various podcasts. Despite his detractors, he has a loyal following of fans. He has enriched my comic book appreciation by recommending titles and arcs I may not have picked up otherwise.
Kevin Smith is my spirit animal if ever I had one.
When Nerds United was in its infancy, I reached out to Kevin to see if he’d be interested in being a guest on the show. That request was greeted with crickets. Maybe…MAYBE…Kevin will see this and open a dialogue. I’d love to have the type of chat with him that he had with the likes of Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Neal Adams, and Denny O’Neil (two of the best storytellers of all damn time). I’ve read his comics and I have seen his movies. I know there’s a ton of dialogue. A four-part series with Kevin Smith?
So, Kevin Smith, if you read this and got all the way to the end, thank you for inspiring me to get out there with a microphone and my friends and create something. Now…would you like to be a guest on my podcast?
That’s it, folks. We made it through Lent with new content every day. WHEW! I’m tired. I’m still going to write for the site, but probably not every day. I’ve been sacrificing a lot of sleep to try to meet these self-imposed deadlines (and even then, I sometimes missed them). I’m excited to go to bed early tonight and prepare for Easter tomorrow with my family. I’m pretty pumped to eat Garrett’s candy, HA HA HA HA HA!
I thank you all for reading these posts, whether you read one, ten, or all 46. I try not to think that I’m just yelling into a big empty room and that someone is out there enjoying what I do here at Nerds United. Hope to have a new podcast up this week with the organizer of the Cape Comic Con. I’ll be there a week from now, seeing old friends and making new connections. If you’ve enjoyed these posts, tell your friends about it. This is a pure grassroots effort here with no budget. It’s a hobby, not a job.
Thank you all again, from the bottom of my nerdy heart!