Michael Zapcic from AMC’s Comic Book Men talks about getting recognized in public and restoring his home and memorabilia collection after Hurricane Sandy.
Q: How has being on TV for three seasons matched the expectations you had when you first agreed to be on the show?
A: It’s been beyond what I thought it would be. I’d thought I’d just be a background guy who doesn’t really say that much. I do, every once in a while, get a one-liner in — when Bryan shuts up long enough to let me.
Q: Are people recognizing you from the show?
A: Yes. It’s very strange. I was going to renew my car registration, and the guy behind the counter was wearing an Aquaman shirt. He says, “Oh my god, I love your show!” So I say “Oh, that’s great, thank you! Hey, can you waive the $46 re-registration fee?” And he says, “No, I can’t do that. But I still like your show.”
Q: You lost most of your memorabilia collection in Hurricane Sandy. How is your effort to rebuild going?
A: Most of the higher ticket items, I’m going to have to take time off to go and find. I had some higher-end single issues, like Avengers #4 and Avengers #9, so they’re going to take some time to recover. But my focus has really been on getting the house rebuilt. That takes priority over everything else. My entire first floor was pretty much destroyed. We were actually evacuated, and when I came home I couldn’t even open my door because there was so much stuff jammed against it. Three and half feet of water had come through the house. It was like God had picked up my entire house and shaken it like a snow globe. Nothing was salvageable because the water had become toxic. But we’re about 99 percent done rebuilding the house. Thank god for my family. They’ve kept me sane. They kept reminding me that it’s only stuff. It does suck, but it doesn’t suck so bad because nobody was hurt.
Q: You’ve said the piece from your collection you regretted losing the most was your Teen Titans poster. Why was that piece so special?
A: It represented a more innocent time. I bought it when I was 14 years old. Teen Titans was one of my favorite comic books growing up. It was a beautiful piece and I love George Perez’s art. I had it on my wall at home as a kid. Then I took it to college with me. I got made fun of by my roommates for liking comic books, but in the end, I got a bunch of guys on my floor into reading them. That poster — you know how in various stages of your life, you’ll leave things behind, you do multiple moves and you’re like, “Screw this noise, I’m not taking this with me”? I always took it with me. It was always a constant in my life. I know I will get it back.
Q: Who knows? Maybe after seeing the episode someone who has one will offer it to you.
A: You know what? I’ll pay them fair-market price. Which is something I almost never do, from working at the Secret Stash. [Laughs] That’s one I probably wouldn’t haggle on.
Q: In Episode 3, the guys got George Perez to make you a custom sketch for your new collection. Did you have any idea they were doing that?
A: No, not that specifically. But you can’t pull off something that big without tipping off my spider-sense, so I knew something was going on. But I was told not to inquire too much or I would ruin the surprise — and I would have my legs broken.
Q: We’ve been asking all of the guys which of the other Stash employees they’d want to be stranded on a desert island with, and Kevin wondered who you’d pick. So, who would it be?
A: That’s a really tough question. Everybody has their strengths. So I’m going to do this by process of elimination. I wouldn’t pick Ming, for one reason: He’s too Gilligan-esque. Every time we’d try to get off the island, he’d foozle up something and we’d never get off. Walt is too Skipper-esque, even on the island. He’d be having me try to train all the monkeys on the island to be our butlers or something. Bryan, he’d probably just sit around while I was doing all the work, commenting on how poorly I’m doing all the work. So, I guess I would choose Kevin. The reason is, even when we’re starving and eyeing each other up like the cartoons in Looney Tunes — where Kevin’s looking like a hamburger and I’m looking like a hot dog — he would still probably be able to crack me up. Laughter is always the best medicine.