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Comic Book Men Q&A – Mike Zapcic

Mike Zapcic talks about the guys’ trip to a Western-themed amusement park, his favorite guests of the Secret Stash and what items he HAD to buy when they passed through the store.

Q: In this week’s episode, you and the guys explore Wild West City. Being from New Jersey, had you heard about it before?
A: Oh my God! If you grew up in New Jersey and watched cartoons during the afternoon, they would have commercials on for Wild West City. There was a jingle with Uncle Floyd; I think it’s on YouTube. It just sparked the imagination. I was not really a Western kid, but it really made me want to get into Westerns. Just thinking about this jingle right now, I’ve got it stuck in my head. We were singing it on the way up there.

Q: Then what was it like going to Wild West City after hearing about it during your childhood?
A: I never got to go there as a kid, so I got to live out a childhood wish. It was actually a thrill to go there. There are people there who have worked there for 40-plus years; they were there when it just opened up. You’ve got to love what you do if you’re there for that long. It is definitely of its time! It’s like walking back into the 70s — and not the 1870s, the 1970s. I’m assuming they haven’t gone shopping for new clothes in a long time. They’re all decked out in clothes you’d see on Little House on the Prairie. And they sell things you definitely shouldn’t be able to sell now, like cap guns without the caps. The whole place is just kind of… adorable? I don’t know if that’s the right word. It’s like walking into a bygone age. In today’s world of video games, the simple pleasure of having a sarsaparilla and watching an old-age throwdown was really nice.

Q: Did you leave Wild West City with any souvenirs?
A: I got a bullwhip actually. It’s in the trunk of my car right now. I got another one once on a trip to Spain because of Indiana Jones. I can actually still snap a whip with the best of them. But I’m nowhere near that 80-year-old dude who was snapping stuff out of Ming’s hand!

Q: You all joke about opening a new Western-themed Secret Stash. Do you think Secret Stash Wild West could actually take off?
A: Well, there actually was a Secret Stash West that was open for about five years on the West Coast. When Kevin was out there, he thought, why just have it on the East Coast? He has a lot of fans out there, so he opened a Secret Stash West and Bryan Johnson ran it for about two years. Then Bryan said, “All right, I’m done.” He was tired of being nice to people.

Q: In the episode, Walt is really interested in Anthony’s cowboy comics. Were you ever interested in cowboy comics at all?
A: I was! I cared about them because they were part of history, and the publishers would put them in the stories with modern-day heroes. One time, the Two Gun Kid came forward in time to help the Avengers out. There’s a couple of “cowboys” who are the great-grandfathers of today’s superheroes. I have a great interest in the continuity in that respect. The Lone Ranger is the great-grand-uncle of Britt Reid, the Green Hornet. So there’s generations of this one heroic legacy. I always thought that was cool.

Q: There have been a ton of great guests on Comic Book Men. Who has been your favorite celebrity visitor to the Stash?
A: Well, of course, Stan Lee is one. He’s just one of the nicest men you’ve ever met. Talking to him is like a history lesson. He knows more about comics than I will ever know, plus he’s got the inside track. He’s just one of the most warm and genuine people. Also, there was Adam West from last season — meeting him was a dream of mine for a long time. And one of my all time favorite heroes, George Perez, gave me a picture to kickstart my collection after Hurricane Sandy.

Q: In last week’s episode, Bryan says he has his “first nerdgasm.” Has there ever been something you’ve seen come through the Stash that you absolutely had to have?
A: That has happened a few times, both on and off camera. I have this unopened strip of Wacky Packages. They still make them; they’re little sticker spoofs on existing products. They’re really cool. I also got a George Perez lithograph that he hand-signed.

Comic Book Men airs Sundays at Midnight/11c.

Watch full episodes online now, then sign up for the AMC Weekly to stay up to date on the latest news from the Stash.

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