Ming Chen, star of AMC’s Comic Book Men, talks about what to expect in Season 3 and which of his Stash coworkers he’d most like to be trapped on a desert island with.
Q: How would you describe Comic Book Men to people tuning in for the first time?
A: It’s a celebration of comic book culture and toys and collectibles. Even if you’re not into comics or you gave up your toys a long time ago, if you watch, you’ll probably see something that you had in your childhood and wish you could have back. When we’re kids, we get attached to a toy or a comic book, but as we get older, we lose that magic, we lose that love for it. Us four guys, we never let go of that love. Most people let go — they get jobs, have a career, have kids, life maybe beats them down a little bit. But me, Walt, Bryan and Mike, even Kevin, we are guys that never let go of that.
Q: What can fans of the show look forward to in Season 3?
A: More hilarity. More of me getting made fun of. If you’ve watched the past two seasons, you’ll notice there are some episodes — I think they’re basically trying to get me naked on the show. My clothes kind of keep disappearing. [Laughs] That’s also the case this season. Also, I can’t give anything away, but you’ll see a lot of people from your past visiting the store, people from pop culture or comics or TV who you’ll recognize. You’ll have a lot of flashback moments of people you’ll be happy to see again.
Q: After multiple seasons on the air, has the dynamic in the Stash changed off camera?
A: It’s funny, people come into the shop and they’re like, “Ming, man, you take a lot of abuse on the show. Is it like that in real life?” And I’m like, “No — it’s worse in real life!” I’ve known Bryan and Walt for 16 years, Mike for 10. Even without the camera, it’s the same. They’ve been making fun of me forever. Especially Bryan — if you leave the slightest opening, he’ll take it. It’s just what he does. When you’ve known someone so long, that just happens. There’s always one guy in the group that gets it worse than others, and I guess that’s me. But I have to say, it’s a talent. Some people think it’s easy to make fun of people, but Bryan takes it to a new level. It’s really a talent for him.
Q: Who’s been your favorite guest star so far?
A: Bar none, Stan Lee [Season 2, Episode 8]. So many comic book characters that people love were created by that man. It would be cool enough if he had just created one, but he’s done countless characters. They’re making movies out of them. My kids have his characters on their shoes, pajamas, T-shirts — it’s crazy. He’s a legend, a superhero in his own right. He’s 90 years old, but he was vibrant, he was energetic. He hopped up on our counter, answered all our stupid questions, told some stories. It’s something I’ll be telling my grandkids about. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now. There’d be no show.
Q: What’s been the coolest item you’ve seen come into the Stash?
A: I’m a huge Star Wars fan. One guy brought in a huge Millennium Falcon — the thing was four or five feet in diameter. Mike joked that I could make a bed out of it and sleep on it. When Star Wars: Episode 1 came out in ’99, I finally had a job and had money to buy things. I remember going out to a toy store to buy all these Star Wars toys and I’d see that thing hanging up there. I thought it was so cool. I’d think, “Wow, I wish I could buy that.” So that was really sentimental for me. It’s hanging at the store now, so it’s kind of like I own it without having to shell out the money for it.
Q: If you had to be trapped on a desert island with just one of the Stash guys, who would you pick and why?
A: This might sound weird because he’s my main antagonizer, but I think I’d pick Bryan. Only because Bryan is probably the best storyteller that I know. The crazy situations he’s been in, they’re astounding, though most of them wouldn’t be fit for the show. [Laughs] He’s always been in weird scrapes and gotten himself out of them. But he can make a story about going out to get the mail or the paper into a two-hour long, riveting story. So if I had to be trapped on an island, and I couldn’t go anywhere, no TV, no internet, at least I’d have someone there who can entertain me. Also, if after a period of time I decided to resort to cannibalism, I’d be glad I picked Bryan. I could probably live for years and years on that guy.