Mike Zapcic. You know him from AMC’s hit series Comic Book Men. I know him as that guy I’d like to hang out with. Fortunately for me, I got to do just that at this year’s XCON Myrtle Beach in May 2014. (Thank you, Twitter!) He led me around behind the autograph table that he shared with co-star, Ming Chen, and offered me a seat. He also offered me some nuts [insert joke here…you’re welcome].
WBP: How are you today, sir?
MZ: I am well. Thank you, Kerri.
WBP: Are you enjoying Myrtle Beach?
MZ: I love it! It’s beautiful down here.
WBP: What was the first comic book you can remember buying?
MZ: Buying? Or….the one….
WBP: The one that started it all for you, I guess.
MZ: I remember it was Iron Man #18. It was a 12-cent book on a squeaky rack at the Five and Dime store around the corner from my house. It was great. It was Lucifer dragging Iron Man, or what looked like his corpse, over this charred landscape. It was a really kick ass cover.
WBP: And you were hooked from that point?
MZ: Oh yeah. [grins] Oh yeah.
WBP: Can you remember the first comic book convention you went to when you were growing up? They were pretty interesting and awesome back in the day, huh?
MZ: Oh, man….yeah. [laughs] Oh my god, yeah. In church basements. I remember really wanting to go to the Penta Hotel in 1976 and just not being able to convince my parents to take me. And I ended up going to a con in 1980 or 1981. It was in the basement of a Ukrainian church. I don’t remember which Ukrainian church, because there were so many out there, I’m sure [laughs] but it was really weird!
WBP: There’s such a world of difference between the level of cosplay from cons back then to now.
MZ: Oh, of course! Mostly back then, god, what did they have? Batman? Mostly it was Ben Cooper, you know? People walking around in Ben Cooper playsuits. Yeah, that was the cosplay that I remember.
MZ: Yeah. I mean, look over here [points towards some kids standing nearby]. This young gentleman has a Spiderman mask painted on his face with, actually, some sort of Batman wings. And, he’s wearing an Iron Man costume. You’d never see that kind of stuff back in the day.
WBP: When fandoms collide….
MZ: Exactly! It’s pretty damn awesome.
WBP: Have you enjoyed doing Comic Book Men, the series?
MZ: Comic Book Men, the series. Basically, they film what we would normally do anyway. Except it’s…I mean, Walt [Flanagan] and I have people all the time coming in, and it’s accelerated because of the show. But people bring in long boxes. And, well…basically I say that we break hearts on a daily basis.
WBP: That’s sad.
MZ: Well, people come in and they think that they’ve got the most amazing stuff and it really isn’t.
WBP: Just sentimental value, huh?
MZ: 90% of every comic book collector’s collection is garbage. It’s crap. It’s worthless. So, we have to break their hearts.
WBP: How do you feel about the industry over all, especially with so many people going digital with their reading?
MZ: Whatever gets people reading! But I don’t think they’ll ever stop printing. It’s not a thing that’s ever going to stop. People are going to want it. Somewhere down the line, someone will be like, I need this in a hard copy so I can read it. Technology always fails us. That’s a simple fact of life. It’s just about getting the kids to read.
WBP: So, the conventions aren’t just about shopping and costumes [winks]?
MZ: No! It’s about getting the kids excited to read!
WBP: What is the coolest or strangest thing that has ever passed before you? Be it a book, a print, a toy…?
MZ: Coolest? Hmm…
WBP: Yeah. What stands out as the thing that blew your mind?
MZ: Oh! I saw an original page of Fantastic Four art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby. It was a double page spread and it was beautiful! It was worth about $50,000. That was mind blowing to me. And I got to see it! I didn’t get to take it home with me. But…I got to touch it and it was so very cool!
WBP: Thank you so much for your time today!
MZ: Oh, not at all! Thank YOU. Next time, let’s talk more. Let me give you my card with my email and if you have any more questions or just want to chat about stuff, just write to me, okay?
WBP: Awesome! Thank you!
Sadly, Mike Zapcic didn’t have any business cards on him, though I did give him one of mine. Instead, he promised to chat more the next time I see him. And, I got to be in a picture with Zapcic and Ming Chen. That was cool. Thank you again, Mike Zapcic, for letting me pick your brain for a few minutes. I’ll see you in Atlanta for Walker Stalker Con 2014, where we can hopefully chew the fat some more!