Silent Bob likes to chat.
Signing behind the big merch desk at FP London, he’s made slightly uncomfortable by the elevation and the barrier – something he jokes about to the incoming fans. He’s a strong presence, as you might expect – a tireless enthusiasm of energy, humour, sincerity and spectacularly foul language. He’s happy to see every single person that comes through that door.
And they’re happy to see him.
In spite of the three-hour queue, the evening has a very chilled atmosphere. A relaxed, good-humoured crowd warm to him instantly; he greets every one of them with ‘hey, man, how’re you?’ and he means it every time. Everyone gets a joke and a grin – and they know he’s a mate.
The thing about Kevin Smith: he’s still a fanboy. As comics buyer Del commented, it’s only been ten years since Clerks first aired. Kevin Smith may be a culture hero, massively successful – but, rather like an American Simon Pegg, he’s still one of the guys, a fan himself. Signing one lady’s black leather bra (she wasn’t in it) and another guy’s elbow for a later tattoo needle doesn’t phase him – this is his world, and he totally get it.
You’ve got to love a guy who burns the ‘no photos’ rule within five minutes of the event starting – and who seems actually disappointed that the queue’s moving too fast for his people to really stop and chat.
Perhaps most telling was the half-hour he took to tour FP once the event had closed. While his wife bought gifts, he surveyed the store with the professional eye of a comic book retailer – and later told Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 that he’d loved what he’d seen.
There’s surely no better example of the New Age of Geek than Kevin Smith – still fanboy and retailer, he’s an all-round streetgeek champion, all about the people, and all about the fans.
And isn’t that kind of the point?