This past Sunday my fangirl wife Nicki and I watched the first episode of Kevin Smith‘s Comic Book Men on AMC. It came on after the mid-season premier episode of  The Walking Dead. I had been looking forward to both and was glad to see Comic Book Men following The Walking Dead– very couch and channel convenient for me. I’ve really enjoyed The Walking Dead– just when you think things are calm or the pacing may be a bit slow all hell breaks loose and “walkers” (zombies) show up or something horrific happens to one of the characters. While watching Comic Book Men I kept wishing the walkers would show up and invade the comic shop- or at least the flea market. That would have been awesome! To make their escape from the zombie customers they have to throw the Star Trek collector plates and boxes of Moon Knight comics they couldn’t sell. “Run, fanboy, run!” Then later they could tell Kevin about about their zombie adventure during the roundtable podcast. They could all have a good laugh and make jokes about the zombies eating their co-worker Ming. Opportunity missed. Maybe they’ll bring in zombies next week. Fingers crossed!

Okay, so I wasn’t thrilled with the new show. Neither was Nicki. I’m not a Kevin Smith hater, the show just wasn’t that entertaining to me. Would have liked to have seen more comics discussion and less set up drama. I’ve been a fan of Kevin’s since I saw the Mallrats premier party on MTV and picked up it and Clerks on VHS (yes, it’s been that long ago). Chasing Amy (my favorite Kevin Smith movie) I saw at a friend’s house with some other comic book guys. Dogma was the first of his movies I saw at the theater. I enjoyed the movie but was disappointed that there weren’t any fanatic religious protestors out front picketing the movie- this is the Bible belt! I did lose a bit of respect for Kevin when he started apologizing for Jersey Girl. I enjoyed the movie and thought it was nice to see him do something different. Heck, even my mom enjoyed it. I guess he just wasn’t shooting for the mom audience. Haven’t gone out of my way to see anything else after Clerks II. Didn’t hate that movie, just not a Seth Rogen fan so I passed on Zach and Miri Make a Porno. Cop Out didn’t look all that intriguing, either.

I got to meet Kevin at the San Diego Comic Con back in 2005 during a signing after one of his SDCC Q&As in the large Hall H (long story). Then said hi again at the con a couple years later as I passed him in the hall. He was heading outdoors for a smoke break and my buddy Dave Beaty and I were heading to see a podcast panel.

While waiting in line for the Kevin signing in 2005 I met Bryan Johnson– also known as “Steve-Dave” in Kevin’s movies. A jerky comic book shop owner in the movies, really nice guy in person and on the phone- at least when I talked to him. He called me a year or two prior about an order I placed while he was running Kevin’s Secret Stash comic shop in Red Bank. I thanked him for the great customer service, gave him an MSCA comic I had worked on, and then he posed for a pic with me. I didn’t recognize him at first while watching Comic Book Men. His new homeless-wizard-wanna-be-beard look and his “douchebag” attitude midway though the show both made him almost unrecognizable. He managed the Secret Stash in Los Angeles until it closed a few years ago. He’s also written comics and wrote/directed the movie Vulgar. Again, he was a nice guy when I met him. Don’t know if he’s bitter about life, if I just don’t get their Jersey buddy bashing comic shop humor, or if he’s just pouring it on for the camera. Most of the show seemed very staged, like most “reality” shows…

I’m not going to do a full review of the new show. Others have done it better. This is a travel blog, so I’m going to tell you about my trip to Red Bank, NJ– home of the Comic Book Men and their comics headquarters, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The store was originally called Comicology and located in a smaller shop. Kevin bought it back in 1997, and after a couple years of fans from around the world visiting the Stash Kevin decided to move it to a larger space which is the current location- 35 Broad Street. Kevin has shot in both locations, and the current one features many props from his movie career. I had been wanting to check it out for a while, and never got a chance to go to one of the View Askew Vulgarthons.

My Bushi Tales partners David Beaty and his wife Micah Stewart and I had flown into Philly for a comic show in Reading, PAComic Geek Speak’s Episode 300. When we first made plans to go to Reading, I got out a map to see how far Philly was from Reading, and how far Red Bank was from Philly. Not too far…it could be done as a day trip!

We spent the evening in Philadelphia on Thursday and had a few cheese-steaks before calling it a night. (Monday after the show was over we  spent the day checking out more of Philadelphia- story for another time.) We left Philly Friday morning and drove over to Red Bank to spend the day in Kevin Smith‘s hometown. The scenery along the drive was gorgeous. I know they call New Jersey “The Garden State” but we were all amazed at just how green it was.

We were also amazed at just how messed up NJ street signs were! Dave commented that it looked like the Riddler had designed them. Once we solved the riddles and found the New Jersey Turnpike we were making good time again. Well, we did make a couple more wrong turns with the toll roads and Garden State Parkway. Hey, it was tricky and their signs really suck!

Once we arrived in Red Bank we drove down Broad Street past the Secret Stash on the right, and Jack’s Music Shoppe on the left. We made the next right to look for a parking space. I was really digging the architecture and downtown area!  We soon found a spot to park down the block. I grabbed my camera and a Bushi Tales comics promo pack- we were giving them to all the comics retailers we met on the trip. As we were walking back towards Broad Street I recognized a building on the right. It was the one Holden McNeil/Ben Affleck stops in front of during the Chasing Amy rain scene! I love seeing places where movies were filmed- especially films I like! I’ve seen Chasing Amy dozens of times.

We passed a few businesses and restaurants and made a left on Broad towards the comic shop. Broad Street was very inviting.  Great old buildings and outdoor cafes lined the sidewalks. Not at all what I was expecting. For some reason things around Red Bank always seemed a bit dirtier and run down in Kevin’s movies. The area seemed very well kept.

We walked into the Secret Stash and one of the first things I noticed was the giant Brodie’s comic shop logo hanging on the left wall. It was from the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Jason Lee stars as Brodie Bruce (seen earlier in Mallrats) and has his own comic shop in the movie. I heard that scene was shot at Jack’s, but not sure.

It wasn’t the only piece of Kevin Smith movie memorabilia in the shop- the place was full of it! There was even the “Blunt-mobile” near the ceiling! Art from Chasing Amy was on the walls including the last page of Holden’s Chasing Amy comic, Banky’s 4-way myth drawing, and some blueprints for taking down the stage in Mallrats! The right side of the store had some items stacked on top of some comic book longboxes. They mentioned that the Stash had been cleaned up a bit on the first episode of Comic Book Men. Yep, it had been for sure. That side was a bit junky- not hoarders junky, but stacked up pretty good.

Buddy Christ from Dogma was towards the back of the store. “Catholicism WOW!” Matt Wagner Green Arrow comic covers from Kevin’s run on the series were hanging in the back of the store, too. Lots to see.

This Mooby movie prop held a computer in the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I’d have to go back and look, but it may have been used in Clerks II as well. One of Kevin’s Silent Bob jackets and hat are hanging to the left of Mooby.

This golden calf Mooby was used in the movie Dogma during the board room massacre scene with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

It was great to meet Walt Flanagan while we were there. Walt not only manages Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, but has appeared in several of Kevin’s movies and comics- usually as an irate fanboy. He not only acts, but also makes comics! He’s worked as artist on Batman: Cacophony and Batman: The Widening Gyre with Kevin. I bought a copy of Walt’s comic Karney (written by Bryan) and gave him copies of my comic Bushi Tales. He was nice enough to sign my comic and take a pic with a fellow fanboy. He’s also one of the stars of Comic Book Men.

After we checked out I asked Walt how far “the stores” were from the Stash. He pulled a map out from under the counter for us. It had directions to the Quick Stop and RST Video locations (first seen in Clerks).

We said our goodbyes to the Stash staff and then headed across the street to Jack’s Music Shoppe. “Are you Hooper X?”

We did a bit of shopping, but didn’t buy any Yanni CDs. I did recognize a familiar face behind the counter. I asked him if he had been in Chasing Amy, and he replied, “Yep. As a matter of fact, in the same spot and doing the same thing.” We found out his name was Tim, and that he was quite familiar with Kevin’s films and shooting locations. We told him where we were from and why we were in Red Bank. After we made our purchases (Dave found a couple cool soundtracks) Tim walked out front with us and began to give us an impromptu Chasing Amy movie tour.

He pointed above the shop where the “Bank Hold-up Studios” had been. Showed us where the entrance to it was (where Banky and Holden discussed Banky’s couch, Alyssa, and catholic school girls).  He pointed across the street to where the catholic school girls stood. Then pointed down the street to the rain scene location. He then gave us directions to the park in Chasing Amy. We thanked Tim, took a few more pics, grabbed some lunch next door, and then headed back to the rental car.

The park wasn’t too far away and in a few minutes we were there  just a swingin’. It was a nice park- much busier and warmer than when Holden and Alyssa were there in the movie. Lots of families were there and it looked like they had added a bit more to it than what I’d seen on screen. We were amazed at some of the houses that lined the shoreline. Some looked like very nice summer cottages and others like year round mansions- many had their own boathouse garage connected to them. Some of the boats were bigger than my house! Again, not the Red Bank, NJ that I was expecting.

We headed across town following the map Walt gave us. It was a bit further than the drive to the park and in the opposite direction, but not too far of a drive. We saw a few landmarks I remembered from some of the movies as we headed to Leonardo, NJ. I soon saw the familiar yellow sign ahead at 58 Leonard Avenue. Across the street some construction on apartments or condos was going on. RST Video was closed (must have been Randall’s shift), so we headed inside the Quick Stop.

It was just like in the movie. I think the only difference was the clerk behind the counter didn’t look like Dante or complain about having to be there that day. I checked the dates on the milk, took a few pics, and bought a bought a bottle of Gatorade. It was very surreal being there.

It reminded me of the corner grocery store I worked at back in high school in Southaven , MS called IN-N-OUT, which actually sounds much more like a store that would be in a Kevin Smith movie. I never worked behind the counter, but stocked shelves, unloaded the milk truck, mopped floors, swept the parking lot, cleaned the laundromat next door, and took out trash. Funny thing, the Quick Stop smelled just like I remembered IN-N-OUT smelling like!

We had to meet up with some of the CGS geeks at a pre-show party in Reading on Friday night so we headed back towards PA and put NJ in our rear view mirror.

I had a great time visiting Kevin’s home town of Red Bank, NJ and doing a one day View Askew tour. If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith I think you’ll get as big a kick out of it as I did. If you’re not a fan of Kevin, well- it’s still a very nice town. Maybe I had my fanboy goggles on then, but I hope to go back again.

The next episode of Comic Book Men will be on AMC this Sunday night 10/9 Central right after The Walking Dead.  If you missed the first episode you can catch it on-line at AMC. Then you can post your own opinions of it. Please let me know if you’ve been to Red Bank. Would love to hear your travel adventures. Your mileage may differ. 😉



 Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash

35 Broad Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701

Red Bank Store
(732) 758-0508

Online Stash Inquiries
(352) 536-1488

Store Hours:
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur: 11am – 6pm
Friday: 11am – 7pm
Saturday: 11am – 6pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm

Jay and Silent

Kevin on Twitter- @ThatKevinSmith


Red Bank Visitors Center

Address: 46 English Plaza, Suite 6 (Upstairs) Red Bank, NJ 07701
Telephone: 732-741-9211 Toll Free: 1-888-HIP-TOWN