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Q&A – Kevin Smith, Producer of Comic Book Men

Actor, director, author, podcaster, and producer of AMC’s series Comic Book Men, Kevin Smith now can add life adviser to his resume. (He’s recently penned a book entitled Tough Sh*t: Life Advice From a Fat Lazy Slob Who Did Good.) In light of his recent book and the renewal of Comic Book Men for a second season, interviewed Smith (who also answered some questions submitted by AMC viewers.)

Q: The title of your new book Tough Sh*t: Life Advice From a Fat Lazy Slob Who Did Good sounds like a self-help guide. Would you describe it that way?

A: Any book is a self-help guide if you can take something from it. There’s a Bible thing — I was raised Catholic and what not — that always profoundly affected me. I can’t quote chapter and verse, but it’s like “Whatever you give out, comes back to you seven-fold.” That made an impression on me as a kid. It seemed simple enough so I thought, Well I’ve got a lifetime, I could try that out. And it’s worked for me in my life. But to me, Tough Sh*t reads more like a biography than anything else. It’s information for those who are like, “What happened to him?” Or more like, “What’s wrong with him?” I’ve had people say, “Oh, this makes Red State make more sense.” The book — knock wood — has been the least criticized thing I’ve done in nearly 20 years…

Q: It spent several weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List…

A: Man, that was really important to the publisher. They were like, “We got to get on that list. That’s how we sell books.” And I’m just like, not anymore, that’s not how I sell anything now. How I sell my stuff now is all built on stepping away from the mainstream — with the podcast, etc. So you tell me I’m on the Times Best Seller List, I’m flattered, I’m honored, and that’s nice. But what does it for me — you go to my Twitter page and those are the reviews of Tough Sh*t that make the difference to me. I can’t tell you how many people have said the book’s inspiring. And that, I dig. It’s not about being on a list.

Q: What made you decide to start writing books?

A: Well, first, I gotta say all the books I had done previously were just compilations of work I had already completed, online. Like My Boring Ass Life was a collection of my blog pages. It’s funny, with that one, Titan [Publishing] came to me and said “Hey, can we put these between two covers?” And I was like, “Why? It’s online.” And they said “Not everyone reads their computer or brings their computer into the toilet, Kevin. Some people actually read books.”

Q: So what was the impetus for writing Tough Sh*t?

A: I was writing these monologues on Twitter. Someone asked me a question, something like “I’m fat, what can I do with my life?” I just wrote back a series of tweets, like 20 in a row. Then, people were like “Put it in a blog, a-hole!” So I collected all the tweets, put it into a blog titled “Smonologue.” People dug it. People wanted more advice. So I finally thought I could totally put this advice into a book. But because it wasn’t all completely from stuff I had already done, this was the first book I actually had to sit down to write. That was tough.

Q: It being tough, is that what inspired the title?

A: [Laughs] In the end, maybe, kinda. Gotham [Publishing] was like, “Smonologue” is weird. How do you sell the name “Smonologue”? So I was like, OK, I’ll give you an even tougher name to sell the book by. I have to give credit to my editor who gave me a list of titles that he thought would be good and that was on there. And I had forgot, the last book I had done was Shootin’ the Sh*t With Kevin Smith. So I guess I’m in the sh*t book business.

Q: If there was one person you hoped would read Tough Sh*t, who would it be?

A: First, I’d say my wife. But she read it in the galleys and she dug it — which was cool ’cause she’s a real book whore. But anybody in the world, someone who hasn’t read it — or I don’t think has — is Harvey Weinstein, I guess. Because there’s a lot about him in it. I hope he gets to read it. I think it would be an interesting read for him. In some ways it’s very flattering — there’s a lot of nice things to say about Harvey. But, in some ways, it’s very sobering as well.

Q: So, we asked AMC’s Comic Book Men viewers to submit some questions for you. Ready?

A: Kay-o, shoot…

Q: Out of all comic book movie adaptations, which one do you think hails best?

A: Well… I might have to give it to Iron Man. It’s pretty darn impressive and establishes this incredible world from its opening frames. It’s not a slog to get to the action. You’re actually happy to spend the first half-hour without Iron Man, because their lead is so compelling. Robert Downey Jr. was a perfect fit and made Tony Stark as compelling, maybe even more so, than the hero Iron Man, when he put on the suit.

Q: Which comic book that hasn’t been made into a movie yet would you most like to see made into a movie?

A: The Question. He puts this adhesive on his face and releases this gas from his belt that makes the adhesive seal to his face. It removes all his features. He can see out of it, breathe through it, but you see no eyes, no nose holes, no mouth. Just this unnerving, faceless image.  He has no super-powers, he’s a television journalist, but sometimes he goes out, puts on The Question identity, and beats ass. Visually, it would leave an impression on you — somebody with no features. I always thought that would be an excellent quasi-film noir, because that’s the world he’s set in.

Q: Do you think that the world we live in now would be a safer place or a more dangerous place if superheroes existed?

A: Far more dangerous. Once you got a superhero, then you have a super-villain. Then super-villains hold the rest of us hostage against a do-gooder. Suddenly, it’s terrorism times 1000. We’re safer without the super-heroes — let’s be honest.

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