'I'm the Clown Prince of Comic-Con': Kevin Smith on All Things SDCC

Kevin Smith is to Comic-Con what Jack Nicholson is to a Lakers game: A guy who’s always going to be there, and who’s always going to be one of the main attractions. For several years now, Smith has hosted “An Evening With Kevin Smith,” which is essentially an excuse for the effusive director and comic-book writer to riff for an hour or so about whatever’s on his mind. But Friday’s “Evening With…” had also served as panel for Smith’s upcoming horror movie Tusk, which stars Justin Long as a podcaster who — for reasons far too insane to get into here — is forced to transform into a walrus (the film costars Haley Joel Osment and Michael Parks). “In terms of making a movie about a guy who turns another guy into a walrus, I think we did a pretty damn good job,” Smith told Yahoo Movies at Comic-Con. “Thankfully, there are none before us — so nobody will judge us against other better walrus movies.” We asked Smith for the straight poop on all things Comic-Con.

Do you feel you’re the king of Comic-Con?

God, I wish. I think that crown, like most king’s crowns, gets passed along. If anything, I’m the f—king clown prince of Comic-Con. But it’s a struggle for the crown. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones. Right now, there are two people struggling for the crown.

Who’s that?

One is Joss Whedon, for Avengers 2. And the other is Zack Snyder for Batman v. Superman. And by the end of [Saturday], we’re going to know who the real king of Comic-Con is. It’s one of those two guys. [They’re] the guys making the two movies that everyone here, from adult to child, wants to see. It’s like [Jon] Favreau when Favreau was doing Iron Man and Iron Man 2: He absolutely wore the crown. Because not only was he making a comic-book movie, he made an amazing comic-book movie that kick-started a f—king name brand that everybody trusts as much as they trust Pixar.

Believe me I know my place. I walk around here, [and] it’s one of the only places in the world where people aren’t like, “You f—king fat piece of s—t!” Everyone’s like, “Hey, Kev!” So I know I have a place here. But the iron throne is reserved for those who can actually show [fans], in a different medium, something they’ve loved their whole lives from comic books.

What’s been your greatest Comic-Con moment?

There have been a few, man. I remember there was one that was very quiet, very subtle. It was maybe [my third year here], and we were [backstage] on the loading dock behind Hall H for our panel. As I get out of the car who’s the first person I see but Stan Lee, and he’s like “Kevin, welcome to Comic-Con.” I was like, “Hey man!” and I chit-chatted with him for a second and s—t, because he was in Mallrats, and I’ve known him for years. Before I left, I had to turn back and say, “Dude, thank you so much. Because somewhere, buried in all this ridiculous flab, there is a little kid who dreamed of meeting Stan Lee at Comic-Con. And the adult version of himself gets greeted by Stan Lee at Comic-Con.”

I also remember being backstage at Hall H [once] — I think it was right after the Iron Man presentation, or maybe it was for Iron Man 2 — and the whole cast comes down the elevator in the back. A bunch of famous f—king people, and I’m just sitting off to the side, smoking a cigarette. And Robert Downey Jr. walked over and was like, “Hey, man,” and shook my hand. And I didn’t know if he just was like, “Who was that fat crazy stalker?” or like, “Oh, that’s that Clerks guy.” But that was cool.

Has there ever been someone you were too intimidated to approach?

I [saw] Neil Gaiman backstage at Hall H, and I didn’t approach him, because I was like, “That’s f—king Neil Gaiman, and he’s written things that changed my life.” I just kind of hung by the side, and he came over and he was just like, “Hi, I’m Neil.” But most people don’t engage with me because once I start talking — as you see — it doesn’t f—king stop [Laughs]. So most people are like, “We’ll just keep our distance.”

Do you think Comic-Con has gotten too massive for its own good?

No. Keep going. Make it bigger. Get it to 500,000. Get it to a million. It’s a celebration of the popular arts; there is no ceiling on that. I know there’s always this argument: “Is it too big?” But I would like to see it keep going. A celebration of popular arts — that belongs to everybody.

What’s been your strangest encounter with a fan here?

During one of the Hall H panels, there was a guy — you can see it online — who got up and asked, “When are you going to finally start making good movies?” or something like that. And the audience is like, “Woah!” And I’m like, “No, no, no, man, every question’s fair.” I said, “Right now I’m working on two movies” — I think they were Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Red State — “and hopefully, they will be better than everything else I’ve done. And I’m gonna get to that as soon as I’m done f—king your mom.” And the whole place [explodes]. I was like, “Why would you pick on the guy with the microphone?” So that was weird. But it turned into something fun.

Will there be a big Batman v. Superman surprise here? Is Ben Affleck here?

Great question. I don’t know, because we’re not f—king tight. I have not been [close with him] in decades. That’s old Ben. He’s got a wife [Jennifer Garner] that don’t care for me at all [Laughs]. And plus, honestly, he probably don’t care for me at all anymore. He’s a triple-A-list movie star and s—t like that. If he’s Jimmy Carter, I’m Billy Carter, to put it in ’70s terms. And I’m not even related and s—t.