“Fueled By Death Cast? Better than the Super Bowl” - Ming Chen, AMC Comic Book Men
The Cassini space probe beams back some exciting new images from Saturn. Jeff and Dustin sift through all the new information on Science. The idea that life is short is widely known and we should all get out there and forge our own path, and this is what is discussed on What Fuels You. Finally, Death Wish Coffee Company has got some new equipment and more merchandise is on the way.
Ming Chen was a fan of the underground movies of Kevin Smith in the early days of the internet so he decided to make a website. The rest is history and he joins the podcast to talk about how he started working full time with Kevin Smith and what it is like to be a reality TV star on AMC's Comic Book Men. Plus we dig deep into his love of comic books and comic conventions and how he strives to have fun everyday.
Jeff: I mean, how many podcasts do you do right now?Ming Chen: I'm doing three, occasionally four.Jeff: Occasionally. Ming Chen: So I sell comics in the Ming and Mike show, the Sam and Ming show, which I do with my friend Samantha, and when we're on the air I do a comic book men companion podcast.Jeff: Are you basically the one who's editing all this stuff?Ming Chen: Yes, or I really don't edit that much. Jeff: We don't either. Dustin: We're getting to the point [inaudible 00:00:24]Jeff: We try not to.Ming Chen: I like the philosophy that, if it happened, it happened. If Brian Johnson gets racist, then it happened. Or there was one there was me, Mike, and he invited his wife on, and I remember we had another guest. And his wife interrupted the other guests, and Mike stopped her, and was like, "Well, you don't do that." I'll send you the clip. It's hilarious. Jeff: That's so funny.Ming Chen: It's great. And people heard that and was like, "Why'd you leave that in?" And I'm like, "Why wouldn't I leave that in?"Dustin: Because it was a moment. It was a beautiful moment in time. Ming Chen: Why wouldn't I leave that in? Jeff: You've been podcasting now for a little bit like, I mean, obviously because of Kevin and that whole group. Is it, when podcasting kind of like started up, was it something that you immediately kind of flew towards or was it something that?Ming Chen: No, I had no interest. I knew it was a natural fit for Kevin. He likes to talk. Jeff: Yes, of course.Ming Chen: And if there was a way to get paid talking, he would find it.Jeff: It's true.Ming Chen: If there was a way to get paid to talk, he would find it. And I only, and he gets paid very handsomely now, just to talk. He's got his live Q and As that he goes out and does and makes a ton of money doing.Jeff: And he's great at it.Ming Chen: He's a natural. And then the podcast, he wants no restrictions. There are no restrictions on podcasts. Jeff: That's true. Ming Chen: You can say whatever you want. And that was also a natural for him. So I wasn't shocked that he only did one show. He's got like five of them now. But I had no interest. I grew up not talking very much, and I didn't think I had anything to say, but this is why I was going to work with Kevin. He'll just be like, "Start a podcast about comics. Grab [inaudible 00:01:59] ...Jeff: And just do it.Ming Chen: And just do it. And when it comes down from above like that, all of a sudden you become very good at it, very quickly. Or at least decent. Jeff: Well, especially because you're doing it, at least every week or every couple of weeks or whenever you're doing it, and now you're doing four shows. So I mean it's just, it's like anything you just put in the practice and you're putting the work.Dustin: I don't there's not too much of a thing. I don't believe in natural so much. Like I feel like that's just people who put in the word, and they make it seem natural. And I think if you do anything enough you can come off that way too. Where it's like, you seem like you've been able to do this your whole life, but it's something that you worked for, and now you have that ability. Ming Chen: Exactly. So even like Eddie Van Halen, he practices his guitar for like 14 hours a day and I was like, why does he sound so good? I was like, because ...Dustin: Because he works for it.Jeff: Because he put the work in. Ming Chen: Because he literally locks himself in a room, and he plays guitar all day.Jeff: It's crazy. So like, being on that podcasting and putting that into your plethora of jobs. Like I kind of know this story, but for our listeners, I think it would be nice to talk about, how you even got into working with Kevin Smith, and working with that crew because that obviously you didn't even start out to do podcasting with them.Ming Chen: No.Jeff: You were web designing and in the very beginning, right?Ming Chen: Yes, it's somewhat of an interesting story, and as far as like career paths go, it's not like the, I went to college, typed up a resume, send it out, got hired, that kind of straight neuropathy. I was in college back at the University of Michigan back around in 1995, a year Clerks came out, and it was snowing out.I was working in a computer lab, I got really bored, decide to start a Clerk's fan website. And there were a couple out there already, but I wanted mine to be the best. And in order to be the best I thought, well I need stuff that these other sites don't have. So I went out and I bought the LaserDisc. Remember those antics?Jeff: Yes. I mean we're talking 95.Ming Chen: Back in 95, and back then LaserDisc had extra content on them, deleted scenes, commentary, all the stuff that you see come standard on DVDs, and ...Jeff: Or now Blu-rays because they wanted you to buy their more expensive version.Ming Chen: Exactly. So I went and bought the LaserDisc. I ripped off all the deleted scenes. There was a music video that no one had really seen, all these stuff and I put it all up online on my Clerk site.Jeff: And there you go.Ming Chen: And in my mind, it was the best Clerk site out there. And Kevin saw it one day, and I give him a lot of credit. Most movie companies when they see that you've ripped off content that [inaudible 00:04:34] to pay for ...Jeff: [inaudible 00:04:35]Ming Chen: They send you a cease and desist, or they call you, or they threaten you in some manner through some ...Dustin: Or you hear from their lawyer. Ming Chen: Some high powered lawyers, but he called me directly, he's like, "Hey, I love what you've done. People are seeing stuff that they would have never been able to see. No one had LaserDisc players back then. No one was going to go and buy a $40 LaserDisc except like the most hardcore movie fan.Jeff: Right, and Clerks was still such an underground film at that time too, I mean like, unless you were a fan like you, seeking out that LaserDisc, you're not going to find that content anywhere.Ming Chen: Exactly. He's like, I love what you've done. I just wrap Mallrats, I'm going into production on a movie called Chasing Amy. Would you like to create a website for my production company? I'm thinking, this Internet thing, it looks like it's gonna take off, and I want to be at the forefront of it. So he gave me a whole list of stuff that he wanted on the website. Like and about section, a filmography for all the other movies that he did.And more importantly, he wanted a chat room. He wanted a way to interact with his fans directly. And I suggested, instead of a chat room where he would probably have to schedule some time out of his week or whatever, to sit there and chat with people. I was like, how about, why don't we just put up a message board?People can ask questions, you can go answer as many as you want at your leisure, leave, come back, there'll be more questions. It will be a lot easier for you. And that's what I did. And I think that kind of, that this was way before Twitter. There was no Facebook, there was no ...Jeff: Reddit.Ming Chen: Reddit. There was no ...Dustin: Friendster. Was that the one?Ming Chen: Yes, Friendster proceeded all of that. There was no ... and there was even no Friendster or Myspace. There was no way for anyone that you admired in the Hollywood system, or anyone famous even to interact directly with the fan. Dustin: It was just forums at best. Ming Chen: Exactly. And even then, most of them had no idea. Most of them had no idea what the internet was. So Kevin has always been one step ahead of everybody else, and I'm so I start with a message board and it became pretty popular, and I think that kind of put him at the forefront of just direct fandom with people. Now everybody does it now. Now you go on Twitter-Jeff: Twitter. Ming Chen: - and you can get into an argument with the person you once admired.Jeff: Totally.Ming Chen: Like you can get into a war with ...Dustin: It's so bizarre.Ming Chen: You can go and argue with the president of the United States now, and though-Jeff: Unfortunately.Ming Chen: -it'll come back at you.Dustin: By the way, more people are subscribing to Twitter in the last two years. I think that it's, the uptake is incredible now because everybody's like, what's our president going to say next?Jeff: It is incredible to think about it though. Back in 95 when you're creating this and like there is no, there's no bashing for that, and like how much of a rare gem it's got to be for someone to go on that message board and be like, oh my God, I can actually have my question answered by Kevin Smith. Like, that's an incredible feeling. Ming Chen: It was cool. So all his fans would hang out on there. Kevin would come pretty much daily. Sometimes spend hours on there answering people's questions. It was pretty cool. But when he saw that Clerk site where I ripped off all this, like he called me directly. Dustin: How bizarre was that? Ming Chen: It was a bizarre call. Dustin: Was it like, is this really Kevin Smith on the phone that I'm talking to?Ming Chen: And then one time he was like, "Hey, call me tomorrow." He gave me the office number, I called and the guy at the other end picking up the phone picks up and he was like, "Hello." I'm like, "Hi, is Kevin there?" He's like, "He's not here right now. Can I take a message?" So I gave him my number and all that. I hang and I was like, that sounded like Jason Mewes, like Jay from Clerks. [inaudible 00:08:02]. And sure enough, it was him, for whatever reason that ...Jeff: Just making up that day.Ming Chen: Whatever reason that day, they made him the receptionist at the office. Dustin: That's so hilarious.Jeff: The only day that Jason Mewes has ever been the receptionist.Ming Chen: Probably. I'm sure that didn't last too long. I went from there and Kevin asked to create the ... I created the View Askewniverse, viewaskew.com website, and that I started working for him full time. Afterward doing graphic design, websites, event flyers, merchandised creation. Pretty much anything else he wanted me to do that extended into like event planning and like all kinds of weird stuff. But later on that led to podcasting, and the podcasting led to a TV show.Jeff: A TV show.Ming Chen: On AMC after The Walking Dead.Dustin: That's crazy. Jeff: Has Your Life changed going from a guy who generally works behind the scenes? You're someone, I mean outside of the podcasting, but you're someone who's creating the events for Kevin. You're setting up his, the web kind of angle, so now you're a reality television star. Like has your life changed for the good or the bad because of that? Ming Chen: It hasn't changed significantly. I think the one thing that's changed is, I get invited to a lot of comic book conventions now as a guest, which is awesome. Just coming from the pop culture, comic book, Star Wars Aliens, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter fandom world, and back in the day where I would go to small Comic-Con in church basements and stuff like that, to the world Comic-Cons now, which I also attended before comic book men started. Now I'm on the other side of the table. It's a lot of fun just being on the other side, and being invited to different cons around the country. You get more access, and you can come early and wander the show floor early, but just as a fan, it's mind-blowing. It's just, it's so much fun.Jeff: And you can always tell that you are a fun, like, if anybody out there who does not follow Ming Chan on any of your social media, please do follow you because you post constantly, and you're always posting really cool stuff, because you do get to go everywhere. Do you know what your schedule is like even last year? How many cons did you do last year?Ming Chen: Last year I went to 34. Jeff: That's quite a lot.Ming Chen: I went to 34 conventions. Most of them as a guest, some of them where I went for fun. Some of them I went to a, just I saw the guest lists there and there was ... I went to one in the wizard of Philadelphia had, like pretty much all the Avengers were there. Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, that Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox was there. Dustin: Do you have the connections to like, hey, I'm coming, can I meet these guys? Do you have that kind of poll? Ming Chen: It depends on the convention, and who's running it, and who happens to be there, or sometimes I'll just show up like, hey. The more convention you go to, the more friends you make, and through those friends, one may be an agent for one of the celebrity guests there, and you may have gone drinking with them at the hotel bar at some con couple months ago and they'll remember you.And they'll let you come in for a little bit. I think the last one where that really worked out, I met a dude at a [inaudible 00:11:06] and we became friends, started talking. He turned out to be the agent for Gal Gadot, the new wonder woman. And she happened to be at the Rhode Island Comic Con. Now you put Gal Gadot in the middle of 50, 60,000 fans, of course, she's going to request security.Dustin: Totally.Ming Chen: So, she's of Israeli descent. She had a dozen Israeli security guards were under her like, these guys don't mess around. Jeff: Not at all. No. Ming Chen: They know that Krav Maga.Jeff: They've all killed people.Ming Chen: And they're probably ex Mossad. Jeff: Totally. Ming Chen: So, she was surrounded, but I just seen him, I was like, "Hey man, I'd love to meet her if he has time." And he's like, "She's kind of chilling out now, but when she goes and takes photos with people, I'll stop the line like you can slip in. No big deal." And I with Mike Zapcic was there too, I was like, "Dude, we're in." We had a photo with her. So we go to the photo area we're waiting for her, and for reasons that he still doesn't explain to me, Mike decides to, he's like, "I got to go." And I'm like, "No, we're in man. I got [inaudible 00:12:07]Dustin: You recognize somebody.Ming Chen: "Don't you want a picture with Gal, wonder woman?" He's like, "No, I got something I got to do." I'm like, "All right, no problem." So he goes and leaves. I get my picture. Later on, I found out, wherever he's going to, he's going down the hall, Gal Godot and her security detail is coming the other way, and they basically just shove them aside. And they were like, out of the way sir. They were like, important cargo coming through. I was just like, "Dude, you had it. You were there. Why did you ..." I still don't know why he left. He had some other commitment to do.Jeff: He was scared of wonder woman.Ming Chen: I mean that's the only explanation, right?Jeff: Yes. Ming Chen: He's scared of strong women, or women in general. I'm not sure. Jeff: Well, that's cool, but I mean like, it's not a superstardom. I mean AMC comical man it's such a fun show, and it's one of the few reality television shows out there that isn't so reality television, I guess.Ming Chen: I like it. I truly get to be myself.Jeff: Exactly. That's what I mean.Dustin: It's not negative. It's always fun. It's always a good time. Ming Chen: All the other reality shows people are punching each other. They're getting drunk.Dustin: Strong fights. Ming Chen: They're crying. As of yet, I'm not, maybe in the future or maybe, but I have not shed any tears yet. If you watch the show, I got made fun of a lot.Jeff: You do. You were either weeping [inaudible 00:13:19]Ming Chen: I should be shedding cheers.Jeff: You are the weeping boy for sure.Ming Chen: I should be crying, but I haven't been pulled aside with a single camera and I'm like, no, why is [inaudible 00:13:27] so mean to me? Jeff: Although, speaking of MTV, if you are listening, real-world comic book men is a great idea to have a pending get ahold of me. Dustin: I share copyright.Ming Chen: It would be interesting to throw not all four of us, throw all five of us in the house with Kevin?Jeff: Yes, with Kevin. Ming Chen: That could be interesting. Jeff: That's crazy.Ming Chen: That could be interesting.Jeff: Is it hard with all of the different hats you wear to juggle all the different jobs you do with all of your travel schedule? Ming Chen: I think you can manage it. Anything design wise or whatever you can do on the road, as long as there's an internet connection somewhere.Jeff: That's true.Ming Chen: And you just Kind of tackle it as it comes. So, I mean there are times out of con you need just want to go and have fun for the whole weekend or whatever. But it's not crazy. And podcasting as you know is something we truly look forward to doing.Jeff: Totally.Ming Chen: This is like the super bowl. Every day we get to sit behind a microphone. Jeff: It's my favorite thing every week. Dustin: I mean, it drives an interesting conversation. I feel like even people that we've gotten to sit down with that we know, it gives us the chance to ask the questions we've always thought, but never had the platform to ask it without seeming like weird. Ming Chen: When you fire up the mics, you hit the record button, you can ask anything, and most people ... I know it just opens you up for whatever reason that microphone in front of your face.Jeff: It's so true.Ming Chen: It just opens you up, and I love it. Jeff: Sp with your love of podcasting, your love of the culture, and all the travel that you do, all the work that you put in. What fuels you to keep going every day? When you get up, the one thing that I noticed about you is that, wherever you go, wherever you're showing up at, and whatever con or whatever the appearance you have to do, you're always happy to be there. You're always, on point and like energetic about it. What fuels you to keep doing that, to keep getting out there? Ming Chen: I love that question. It's so great. I have a couple of things. One, and it's something that you guys discussed, and it's kind of the heart of this podcast, is that life is short. You only have a limited amount of time. And I think a lot of people don't realize that. A lot of people think they're never going to die, or they're invincible, or that's why they do such stupid things all the time.And so I'm trying to fill all those moments with something fun, something that I want to do. Why waste your time doing stuff that you don't want to do, or that you hate? Or going to a job that you dislike, or just being stuck in situations that you hate. So, it's an old saying, but if it's not fun, I don't want to be doing it.Jeff: Well that's a great outlook thought too.Ming Chen: And I know it's not possible 24/7, but if it can be like 23/6, or 98% of the time of stuff that you really love, and that you're doing something that you're passionate about, that's the way to live life. Dustin: I think that comes with being present in the moment. You're in this moment and it's like, what can I do to make this moment the best moment? And I think a lot of people get caught up in thinking about like, what's next, what's tomorrow, or what am I going to do in a week? And they get caught up in that, and they stop thinking about what they're doing right now, and how to make that better instead of like next week.Ming Chen: There's that feel, even like this morning before I was driving up, I was excited to do this. You have that feeling or that feeling you have before you go on vacation, or before you travel and you can't sleep the night before, and that anticipation, like I want to be feeling that all the time. Jeff: That's awesome. Ming Chen: Again, that's not possible 24/7, but it's definitely something a lot of people are like, I'd love to go to Italy one day. Well, you might have to save some money and all that, but go, go do it. And you'll be much happier.Jeff: Totally. I mean, again, bringing it back full circle to Kevin, I mean that's one of his tenants too is that, if you want to do something, just do it. Just go do it. That's what he did. He was like, I want to make movies, so I started to make movies like the same thing, and it's like ...Ming Chen: You'll make mistakes, and you'll fail, but you did it, instead of just sitting there thinking about it.Jeff: And that's really cool.Dustin: That's how this company was built. Jeff: [inaudible 00:17:43]Dustin: With Mike, he used to be an accountant, and he used to work at the controller office and he got sick of that. He got sick of that world and then out sprouted Death Wish Coffee because it was like, let's take a chance. Let's get it out there and well, here we are now. [crosstalk 00:18:00] we're doing a podcast for the company. It's crazy. Ming Chen: I love it from Death Wish to Super Bowl commercial like, how can we top this? Let's start a podcast. That way that's even is even better than the Super Bowl.Jeff: You heard that. That's our first little press code right there, better than the Super Bowl [inaudible 00:18:15]Ming Chen: [inaudible 00:18:15] better than the Super Bowl.Jeff: I Love it. Ming Chen: Especially this year. Jeff: I love it. So I'm sure this goes without saying, but, were you as a kid, were you into all of this culture, or was this something that you kind of found in college, or like and I mean, and by this culture I mean, we used to call it, the underground counter culture, but now it is, if you don't like superheroes and-Dustin: It's geek pop culture.Jeff: - geek stuff, it's like you're not cool. Ming Chen: I think like most kids, especially now, every kid grows up I think loving comic books. Even if they don't read the comic books, they're wearing Spider-Man shoes. They're wearing a Captain America shirt, or they're wearing a, they have a lightsaber somewhere, even if they're not really into it. And I think that's cool. Growing up, comics were not huge but not small either. I was given my first comic when I was six years old and some kid ...Dustin: What was it?Ming Chen: Avengers 214. Some kid in school gave it to me, I guess he had an extra copy, or he thought I was cool or whatever. And I read that thing cover to cover including all the hostess fruit by commercials.Jeff: The ads and stuff.Ming Chen: And the commercials for the upcoming cartoons on Saturday morning. And then on the cover you have Ghostwriter, or you have Iron Man being taken down by the Ghostwriter, and Cap's in the background with Tiger, they're looking really worried, and as a security, like, what is this? This is unlike anything I've seen. And then you read it and it's really awesome, and you want to keep going. So that was my first taste.Jeff: That's so cool.Ming Chen: And then, at four obviously I saw Star Wars when I was four. All the Star Wars movies definitely shaped my life as they did everybody else's. Sci-fi and I grew up mainly in the '80s. So all that we had ThunderCats, we had Transformers, we had G.I. Joe. Like all this stuff that ...Jeff: That's coming back now. It's great. All these '80s kids get to have our childhood again as adults and it's nice.Ming Chen: But there's all this stuff for kids that they put so much thought into, and was just so good. And it was easy to that fueled that passion for collecting, and looking deeper into storylines, and things like that. So, those things definitely started me off on this path to loving pop culture and comics, and just these cool properties. Jeff: That's so cool.Ming Chen: And then it just kept going. I fell in and out, I started playing baseball. I didn't like comics that much. College was supposed to be starting. I got into other things, but near the end of college, as I was about to ...Dustin: Other things.Jeff: [inaudible 00:20:55]Ming Chen: Other things.Jeff: Here we go. Ming Chen: Near the end of college, as I was winding down, I got back into comics. This was about 96, 97 when the image was formed that it was Spawn and they were more adult comics, like Preacher and Spawn and things like that. And I went into this comic bookstore that had recently opened up, and I went in, I'm like, "Where's the Spider-Man in the [inaudible 00:21:18]?" Was like, "Man, we don't have any of that, but we have independent stuff and we have the image. If you want that stuff and you go down the street, there's nothing. But this is the stuff that we're really into, and we think you'll be really into it too." So they suggested me a bunch of titles, and that got me way back into comics. That's the point where I never stopped from there until now. Jeff: That's so cool.Ming Chen: And that little comic store that didn't carry DC and Marvel, they're one of the biggest stores in Michigan now, where I grew up.Jeff: Very cool.Ming Chen: They do carry DC and Marvel now.Jeff: I'm sure they do now.Ming Chen: They did that. But they wanted to just carry stuff that they loved and it worked. It worked out like they have three stores now. It worked out way well for them. Jeff: That's cool.Dustin: I think passion when you really apply it well works out. No matter what you're doing, I think that's why podcasting it's become a thing because so many people are passionate about. And radio sucks now, I think that's why podcasting became a thing.Jeff: It's true. It's definitely [inaudible 00:22:11]Ming Chen: I think that podcasting is great. You can do whatever you want, you say whatever you want. You can do it whenever you want. There's no restrictions man.Jeff: It's very freeing and it's a lot of fun.Dustin: And technology has made it so it's so mobile. And the cool thing about podcasting is that the technology has gone past the laws, and like, what do I want to say like? Censorship. We don't have to deal with any of that, which is beautiful. It's beautiful. It's free. It's America, man. Ming Chen: That's cool that you're able to tie it back into your profession, which is very progressive in the bottom line but, we both work with people who have seen the light, and who see the benefit in all of this.Jeff: I mean, and like you kind of touched on before it was born by the idea of the same thing that this company was born from, is just to go out there and give it a shot. And Mike wanted to see what a podcast would do and when we, Dustin and I decided to craft it, they had already, Death Wish had already been talking on different themes, and one of their hashtags is fueled by death, and that seemed to be just a great fit of what everybody can talk about because no matter who you are, you do something that you like, whether you get paid for it or not, you do. There's something in your life that you can't wait to do again. You can't wait for that time in the week when you get to do it.Dustin: Besides eating.Jeff: Besides eating. Even that though. But I mean, and it all stems back to the fact that you're doing that because, one day you're going to leave this rock, you are going to die. And as morbid as that sounds, it should be the part that should feel your passion to do the thing that you love to do. And I mean, what better way than to talk it out with people, like that's why they kind of how that started, which is really nice. Ming Chen: And it's even better for you to do it with people you know and love.Jeff: Totally. Ming Chen: It's so much more fun. Jeff: Totally. Are there any moments now I mean, you've had this odd track in your life where like you said, you didn't go to college to be the web designer for Kevin Smith, or anything, and it's just kind of everything ...Dustin: Or did you?Jeff: Everything is just kind of fallen into place for you, and parallel with your life's track, the culture of geek and nerd has completely become mainstream now. So it is, helped out what Kevin does, what you do, what all that kind of stuff does. Has it been this organic rise where you haven't really felt it, or are there times in your life where you still get the feeling of, I can't believe I'm doing this, or being here, or being a part of this?Ming Chen: With phrasing it like that, me some little Chinese kid from Michigan, winding up on a reality show on AMC, that's absurd. Dustin: Surreal.Ming Chen: Where we're about to air the second half of our sixth season in a couple of weeks. And you think back to shows like Firefly or even, or the original Star Trek. Neither of those made it at six seasons.Jeff: Not even close.Ming Chen: A lot of shows don't make it that long. So that's ... and those are shows that, listen, I know what our show is. It's not better than Firefly. Firefly is a great show-Jeff: It is a great show.Ming Chen: - and it should have gone, it should be ...Dustin: It should be in my language.Ming Chen: It should still be on now. That's a shiny show. But like, and one day it will come back. Mark my words. So that's absurd that, you see arts for we're a bunch of, we're for ugly dudes from New Jersey. And I won't go, Kevin. Kevin is a good looking dude but, four ugly dudes from New Jersey arguing about the flux capacitors, and the first appearance of Electra and Captain Marvel, stuff like that. And people watch it and love it and they're still doing it. That's absurd. That I never. That I didn't see coming.Jeff: And you follow one of the highest rated television shows on television right now too.Ming Chen: That part I didn't see coming. Now the geek stuff, you probably went through the same thing I did. In high school I knew my class about 400 people, I knew two people who loved comics. And even then it was a struggle to discover them. There was when you were a fan back then, you didn't advertise it. No one [inaudible 00:26:29]Jeff: Never.Ming Chen: No one more Star Wars shirt. No one wore Marvel shirts. No one wore a Green Lantern ring, or shields ring or whatever. You just didn't. It wasn't cool. So I, but I was in school, I saw, I found a kid, he had an X-Men comic hanging out of his backpack, And I was a holy crap, like did you ... where, why? Why, how did this happen?Jeff: Can we be friends?Ming Chen: I found out he loved Wolverine, and I went over to his house to play video games one day and he had a Wolverine, like a page stuck up on his closet, and I'm like, this kid is cool like I want to be friends. And then I met his other friend, so we were the ones that would go and play D and D, Warhammer, and played the original [inaudible 00:27:13] all day. But you didn't advertise it, for fear of getting made fun of, or some people got beat up or chased around. It sounds absurd now. And then now, everyone's wearing Star Wars shirts. I think the one thing that stuck, I remember the first time I saw a girl wearing a Star Wars shirt, I was like, holy crap, do you want to get married? It was awesome, and now, tons of girls and they look great. They look great in them. Jeff: Now finally we've got Star Wars movies that the main character is a girl.Ming Chen: It's a female.Dustin: I think that's amazing. They did such a good job with that too.Jeff: They're best.Ming Chen: And they're great. But it took time though. It took ... that was 20, 25 years ago when from there until now where everybody's into it. Now, a lot of people are like, what's it feel like that comic book movies and sci-fi that's cool? What's it feel that they're cool now? I'm like, cool, now they've always been cool.Jeff: Always been cool.Ming Chen: I said, "We knew this."Jeff: You guys are the ones that are catching up.Ming Chen: You guys were asleep. You guys are the ones I finally woke up, like, why don't look at me like I ...Jeff: I say the same thing. Ming Chen: I knew like you can go back and look at [inaudible 00:28:21] of me and I got, I'm wearing a hunt solo shirt. Where were you guys? So I love it. It's great. Not only does it fuel revenue at say places like Jameson, Bob's secret stash up. We get cool movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, and Dr. Strange, and a [inaudible 00:28:38] showing the fricking defenders.Jeff: I know. It's like, who would have ever thought, like crazy.Ming Chen: And then everybody else's into it too. So I say the more the merrier. I used to go to comic book, comic cons because I knew I would find like-minded people there, and they were small back then. And now you can go to New York comic con where there are 150,000 likeminded people, and you can quote Star Wars and no one looks at you funny. It's great.Dustin: How much do you think the Disney machine fueled that?Ming Chen: I don't think it was that much. I think you can kind of see the rise of the Marvel movie through Blade, which came out and went a while ago.Jeff: 98.Ming Chen: Yes, 98.Jeff: I wanna say.Ming Chen: 98 was a that's when somebody, some suit woke up and like, Well, why don't we just make this cool? Why don't we stop trying to sell toys and dumbing it down and just ...Jeff: Let's make an R rated superhero movie.Ming Chen: We'll throw a plot on everybody and it worked.Jeff: It totally did. Dustin: It was really good. Ming Chen: But before that, I get a lot of kids going, even Batman-Superman maybe it wasn't that great. But compared to Dolph Lundgren was the Punisher at one point.Jeff: Right. Yes, he was.Ming Chen: David ...Jeff: Unfortunately.Dustin: Don't talk shit about Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher. Just say ...Ming Chen: Alright.Jeff: Alright.Ming Chen: Alright, well, how about this, David Hasselhoff was Nick Fury at one point.Jeff: Yes he was, unfortunately.Dustin: It was his better days though. I mean, he's definitely fallen far from the stars a little bit.Ming Chen: Sure, but Nick Fury maybe ...Dustin: Who would you rather have seen as Nick Fury back in the day?Ming Chen: Back then? That's a great question. My God, I didn't even think about that. [crosstalk 00:30:24]Jeff: So instead of Hasselhoff, I reckon we're talking about [inaudible 00:30:26]Ming Chen: Charles Bronson or I don't know. I could see something like that. Jeff: To Chuck Norris.Dustin: Marlon Brando. Ming Chen: [inaudible 00:30:36] Marlon Brando. I mean, it's a different direction.Jeff: My goodness.Ming Chen: But I mean there was a lot of bad and comic book stuff when we were growing up. There was a Fantastic Four movie that Roger Corman, which actually isn't that bad.Jeff: It's really not that bad effect, in fact, I think it either just came out or it's about to come out the documentary on it called Doom.Ming Chen: I want to see. Jeff: I really want to see it too, and it's all about the how they were trying to get this movie off the ground and it just never, it never happened. Poor Roger Corman. Ming Chen: And there was a 1994 captain America movie that was little scene was not, was awful. Dustin: I remember that one. Jeff: With a motorcycle?Ming Chen: Yes. Dustin: Weird. I'm getting weird memories now. Ming Chen: The stuff like that.Jeff: You're right though, the culture is always been trying to break it, break through and be something, and we just are lucky to live in a world now where it's totally socially acceptable. Dustin: I mean the reason why I brought up the Disney machine because I think, I mean in my opinion, a lot of the quality is because of the Disney finances put behind this program.Ming Chen: They should not be messing anything up. Not only they have the budget, they have the prestige where they can get any writer, any director, then get any creative team they want, to make it the best possible product. And I'm glad to have them aboard.Dustin: Agreed.Jeff: Me too.Dustin: Especially since they've obviously been doing a good job. Ming Chen: They're coming with cool merchandise. Back in the day, the whole point of the movie was to sell toys-Jeff: To sell toys.Ming Chen: - and stuff. And now, thank God they're focusing on story and creation. The toys will come. The toys you're only ...Jeff: Always going to have the toys. Ming Chen: You make something good like [inaudible 00:32:18] take Star Wars, for example, you make something good, and the toys will sell themselves. Dustin: But I guess as kids like it was an action figure world. It was always like you always wanted to go to K.B toys to get the next character.Jeff: Well, I mean speaking again ...Dustin: The next Ninja Turtle toy.Jeff: Right. Exactly, and I was going to say speaking again from an '80s kid standpoint I mean, that's how they marketed it. Our consumption of media, all cartoons, a lot of cartoons were put out by Mattel and Hasbro because they were like Transformers and Gi Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were all created in cartoons to push toys.Ming Chen: They find a loophole, it was great. It was like the dumbest, biggest loophole and the world was like.Dustin: It worked.Jeff: Even comic books the first and greatest ever like huge team crossover event secret wars from the '80s, was created specifically to push toys. It was they didn't even care about writing a story, and the story is fine, but it wasn't even about that. It was about let's see how many units of actual action figures we can sell.Ming Chen: How many secret wars toys can we sell.Dustin: It doesn't seem to be that way anymore. I mean there's definitely like an action figure world, but I feel like-Jeff: It's much more of a ...Dustin: - you don't see as many K.B toys in the wall anymore with the Voltron toys up front.Jeff: It's much more of a collectible kind of thing, where they're making statuettes and they're making, the better side of toys. Ming Chen: They're all geared toward us now, where are-Jeff: Which is awesome.Ming Chen: - people with salaries, who could afford like the $400 hot toys.Dustin: And they look awesome. Shout out to Paul Harding by the way.Ming Chen: Our friend Paul Harding who sculpt most of the ...Jeff: These amazing toys we're talking about.Ming Chen: Most of this stuff. Dustin: And he'll eventually be on this podcast too.Jeff: Yes we will.Dustin: Because, what an amazing artist he is. Holy Crap, he makes some cool stuff. I love following on Instagram. See like the next 3D design he's coming up with.Jeff: You talked a little bit about comic book men obviously, and I believe we're going to be airing this episode when you guys are coming back in the mid-February.Ming Chen: Cool.Jeff: And I'm really excited for the second half of the season. Is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect coming up, any guest you're excited about?Ming Chen: [inaudible 00:34:21] There's been a couple of guests revealed [inaudible 00:34:24] from the Karate Kid.Jeff: Can't wait to see that episode.Ming Chen: Talking about the '80s. That was pretty mind-blowing. I don't know when you guys were born. I'm sitting in the theater with my dad and brother in 1984, watching this little Italian kid from New Jersey, get bullied by these California white boy. And I'm like, well, how is he going to get out of this?And I fell for him. I knew what it's like. I wasn't like beat up or anything, but I got teased and [inaudible 00:34:51] smaller and whatever. So you always wanted to see the underdog win, and then he teams up with his little Asian men, and I'm like, this is great. And then they do karate, and like wax on, wax off the crane technique. Jeff: That's so cool.Ming Chen: It's so great. And I was just thinking today on the drive up, how, 30, what, 33 years later it's, it might even be bigger now than it was then.Jeff: I think so. I mean, maybe not to the side of martial arts because I mean, there was a huge boon in, because it was coming off of the '70s when Bruce Lee came and did, and made everybody go, wow, I want to take martial arts. And then like you said, this crony kid from jersey, does a crane kick to the face, to this dude from California, and every single child in America says to their parents, I want to take karate right now.Ming Chen: I wanna take karate. Dustin: Sweep the leg.Jeff: So I don't know if that kind of boon, but you're right, like from the aesthetic of the movie and that kind of, I think it's as big as big or bigger than it was when it came out in the '80s 100%.Ming Chen: And I was just at a con where rough macho was there. Martin Kove who played Sensei Kreese was there. Jeff: Awesome. Ming Chen: And Billy Zabka who played Johnny all in the same room.Jeff: Nice. Oh, my God.Ming Chen: And I'm looking I'm like right across from them like, God, my life is so, it's cool, it's weird.Jeff: It's so weird.Ming Chen: It's cool. Sitting down on theater did I think I'd ever even see those guys in the same room? Jeff: That's crazy. Ming Chen: And they haven't changed that much. Sensei Kreese looked like he could still like, he could still punch in the face.Jeff: He's still jacked. Heck yes. That's great though. And so Ralph's going to be on-Ming Chen: Ralph Macchio ...Jeff: On the [inaudible 00:36:23] and that's exciting. Ming Chen: [inaudible 00:36:24] I got really excited about, Katrina Law, who was a [inaudible 00:36:27] from Arrow, she's in the new training day on CBS in a couple of weeks. Jeff: Cool. Ming Chen: She's on Spartacus. I saw a lot of her on Spartacus if you follow her show.Dustin: Now I know who you're talking about. I was lost up until you said, Spartacus and a lot of her. Ming Chen: She's totally cool. We met at a con oddly enough and I suggested I was like, well, should it be great on the show. I mean, now [inaudible 00:36:52] for the Jack she's just a cool, a cool person. Just a cool person-Jeff: That's so cool.Ming Chen: - and she knows a lot about Batman and Rosalie Gould and her backstory from Arrow, and we kind of tied it into all that. Jeff: That's excellent. Dustin: That's awesome.Ming Chen: I just kind of suggested it often. Actually, it was Brian Johnson who suggested it, but I kind of pushed for it, and that sometimes things just work out and it happens.Jeff: That's so cool. So that's going to be premiering, I believe-Ming Chen: February 12th.Jeff: - February 12th.Ming Chen: When walking dead comes back.Jeff: Right after the second half of the season of walking dead, and we can't wait for that to come out. Is there anything coming up that you want to plug that any appearances that you're going to be doing in the next like month or so? Ming Chen: Just a lot of cons. I'm trying to think if there's anything around here. I just saw there was a kind of Hudson Valley I think in May.Jeff: Yes, there's one in May.Ming Chen: That it's a second-year show. It's small, but I'm thinking, I'd love to go up there. I love supporting the conventions around here. Jeff: That's awesome. Like I said earlier, please follow Ming Chan on all the different social media because-Ming Chen: I'm not hard to find.Jeff: - you're hard to find and that will definitely let you know where he's going to appear next because you are always on the road. You're always doing awesome stuff.Ming Chen: I know I love that Death Wish has hopped in the convention circuit as well. I think it's great.Jeff: One of the first things when I started working with the company as a consultant, I actually was consulting them towards this industry because I'm such a fan of the industry, and I always was kind of putting in there in Death Wish's ear. It's a match made in heaven coffee in comics. Like, I mean, everybody who loves this culture needs coffee. Ming Chen: We geeks don't sleep a lot.Jeff: Exactly. Dustin: And even though like the writers and the artists and everybody is like, I have late nights, you guys, the fact you guys are here is perfect. And then I think all of us hearing that over and over again, it was like, we gotta do the con thing for sure. Ming Chen: Yes, it's working out.Jeff: So hopefully this year Death Wish is going to do a con or two. I think we're already trying to work on coming back to New York comic con-Dustin: I can see it on the [inaudible 00:38:51]Jeff: - in October, but hopefully we might do another appearance or two down the road.Ming Chen: I think it's great. I think it's easier. I always tried to spread the gospel as well. I'm a huge fan of Death Wish probably for about a year and a half now. Jeff: Awesome. Dustin: How did you originally hear about Death Wish?Ming Chen: I heard the words world's strongest coffee. I met a mutual friend of ours, [inaudible 00:39:08] from the formerly a fanboy incorporated network who told me about it, saw the Super Bowl commercial and I just, I've been a lifelong fan of coffee. So you make a bold claim like world's strongest coffee, I gotta hop in on this.Jeff: [inaudible 00:39:24]Ming Chen: Not only is it the world's strongest coffee, it's amazing flavor wise. It's great.Dustin: And it's a clean high.Jeff: It is.Ming Chen: It's a clean and legal high.Jeff: It sure is. Ming Chen: So, I'm always trying to spread the gospel. Dustin: And we love you for it, man. Jeff: We really do.Dustin: It helps us out, and seeing you at the Walker Stalker Convention, having all The Walking Dead people with their stuff, that was amazing man.Ming Chen: Tagging into death and walking down [crosstalk 00:39:53] all the time. But they're all caffeine [inaudible 00:39:57] all these actors.Jeff: Because they're all hard working. They're all out there doing their thing, and then going to all these conventions, and it's like, they all work really hard.Ming Chen: So, the green roo is kind of a central meeting area. My friend Monique, is a subscriber of the Death Wish show-Jeff: We love Monique.Ming Chen: -the delivery program. And we're like, why don't we see if they'll send some [inaudible 00:40:19]. I think he gets sent up like 60 to one convention.Jeff: We tried to give you as much as we could.Ming Chen: And it was gone by, it was a two-day convention, Saturday, Sunday, by midday Sunday was gone. All the actors were like, what's this? World's strongest coffee. You want to try some? Like, yes.Jeff: That's awesome.Ming Chen: That was cool.Dustin: I feel like that's how we've made it this far, to begin with, is sneaking in that green room with the coffee, and you know ...Jeff: Hey kid, you want some coffee?Dustin: Driving around with the truck, inviting people in.Jeff: We try. We try to fuel people. That's the other thing, is Death Wish coffee is about fueling people's passion. It's not just with caffeine, but it's what do you like to do? Like, well, maybe we like to do that too.Dustin: And we'll help you do it faster.Jeff: And we'll help you do it faster and more caffeinated. Ming Chen: And what I love is, everyone drinks coffee, but I don't think everyone appreciates coffee, and that's pretty obvious by the people would drink, they'll go to, I won't name the mass marketplaces, but they're awful. They're awful. You want to find the places that care. Put the time and make an amazing product, and that really reflects in the flavor and that's what Death Wish has been doing. And you guys are just cool.Jeff: Thank you. That means a lot.Ming Chen: I mean, when it all boils down to it, most companies don't take the time to be cool, they just want to make money. If you're cool the money will come. Jeff: That's true. We strive to be cool. But thanks for thinking that we are there man. Ming Chen: By far. Jeff: That's really great. Once again, thank you so much for coming up to-Ming Chen: Again, you're welcome.Jeff: - Death Wish HQ and recording this podcast with us. We'd love the crap out of you, and-Ming Chen: And likewise.Jeff: - we got to come down and visit you down in red bank one of these days.Dustin: I'd love to take this on the road.Ming Chen: You guys are welcome. You guys are welcome to come podcast at the store if you want. Jeff: That'd be wonderful.Dustin: That'd be amazing.Ming Chen: Always come down here. You've got door's always open for you guys. Dustin: That's awesome. Jeff: That's awesome. Well, thanks again, and everybody, remember, AMC's comic book men, February 12th, right after The Walking Dead.
Steve Orlando is the current writer of DC Comics Justice League of America and Supergirl with many more titles to his credit.
A recap of Walker Stalker Nashville Convention with special guests Ming Chen and Dave Solo