Comic Book Men - Q&A With Bryan Johnson

Bryan Johnson, star of AMC's Comic Book Men, talks about his experience at BronyCon and his favorite thing about spending time at the Stash.

Q: You’re a long-time friend of Kevin and have appeared in several of his films. What still manages to surprise you about him after all these years?

A: I would say his output. I’ll be honest – when he made Clerks, and you see that kind of laze throughout the movie, that’s the way we were: slackers. We hung around doing nothing. In the last couple of years, his creative output is nothing less than astonishing. As he’s gotten older, he’s even more ambitious and prolific.

Q: Does hosting the podcast “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave!” with Walt help for appearing on the show together?

A: I’ve known Walt since fifth grade and we’ve been really good friends. When people find out I used to work at Quick Stop with Kevin, they write it off as a crappy job, but aside from Comic Book Men, it was the best job I ever had because you got to hang out with your friend all day. At the time, you didn’t realize it, but all those conversations we had were practice. Us sitting around and having conversations was our [version of] college. I think the podcast helps in terms of reacting faster than you might otherwise. My job is to basically make fun of people, so I have to be on point and think about where I’m going to interject. Knowing Walt for so long definitely helps in terms of playing off of each other.

Q: Although you’re not an official employee at the Stash, what is your favorite thing about spending time there?

A: I’m getting paid to do what I would be doing anyway – sit there with Walt and make fun of Ming and Mike. [Laughs]

Q: Which superhero or comic book character would you say you’re most similar to, and why?

A: Oh boy! Maybe the Punisher. I like to sit around and judge people.

Q: That’s interesting. Kevin actually chose Microchip, the Punisher’s right hand man, for you.

A: [Laughs] Well, if he’s the Punisher, I’ll be his Microchip.

Q: You and the guys attended BronyCon in Season 4, Episode 5, "BronyCon." What were your initial reactions to the My Little Pony convention? You seemed to know a little bit about My Little Pony since you mentioned your niece, Sage, is a fan. But did anything take you by surprise?

A: Sage is a staunch fan of My Little Pony and watches it constantly, so I'm a little more familiar with the series than a man my age should be. When we arrived to BronyCon, I immediately realized I'm a complete neophyte compared to most of the people at BronyCon. These guys (and gals) are really into the community and acceptance. Bronies and Pegasisters (the female equivalent of Bronies) are insanely serious about making everyone feel welcome. I'm a die-hard introvert/jerk so I have an incredibly difficult time identifying or relating with any type of group activity. I'm normally the one in the corner, judging everyone else and wondering how they're having such a good time. Turns out at a BronyCon, the corner is a lonesome place. The movement is totally committed to tolerance and connection with other, like-minded people. I asked a Brony if it annoyed him that the Pegasisters were horning in on what I assumed was a "guy" thing. He didn't miss a beat before replying "No way. The more the merrier." And before you ask: Yes, I am a comic genius and that pun was totally intended.

Q: How did it feel being onstage during the cosplay contest? The crowd really seemed to love it!

A: It wasn't long ago that I would have said I'd go to my grave before ever having appeared onstage as a contestant in a BronyCon cosplay contest. Well, here we are.

I was happy with the audience response because the character I chose to represent, Derpy Hooves, had been altered -- from what I understand -- due to corporate meddling, and the old-school My Little Pony fans aren't happy with that. Derpy is a cross-eyed pony who many have speculated would be referred to in the human world as "special needs." After some overreaction by the corporate PC police, her name was changed to "Ditzy-Doo," or alternately, "Muffins." My feeling was, so what if she's cross-eyed? So what if she's special needs? My niece has Down's Syndrome, so choosing Derpy as my cosplay character was a nod to her and the finger to anyone who, ironically, treats people with special needs differently in order to treat them the same.

Q: What did Sage think about your moment in the Pony spotlight?

A: Sage is quite accustomed to me acting the fool whether on TV or on stage or at home, so she wasn't entirely shocked that I was up there in front of a few hundred people dressed as a pony, wearing makeup while sporting obscenely long false eyelashes. When I was finished with my bit -- yes, I just worked in another pun -- she gave me a high-five and said "Good job, Dada." It wasn't enough to make me immediately search out and sign up for my local Brony chapter, but as long as that little kid thinks I'm doing a good job, not much else matters to me.

Q: What was your favorite memory or experience from BronyCon?

A: Without reservation, my favorite moment was Walt and Ming bringing back the two-man horse act. Watching Walt do that weird high-stepping trot across the stage knowing Ming's face was buried between Walt's butt cheeks the entire time is bucket-list type stuff.