#5: An Evening with Kevin Smith

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The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo is only a month away, and I’m counting down my top picks for C2E2 2013! These are the top 5 people, events, and programs of my favorite comic con of the year. First up is Saturday night’s headline performance—An Evening with Kevin Smith.

What I appreciate most about the program lineup for C2E2 this year is how much the featured guests love comics and comics culture. Sure, everyone gets psyched to see their favorite actors, internet celebrities, and movie stars, but it’s nice to see the big headliners are still comic book nerds through and through. Smith is most famous for his film career, but he’s also well-known for his SModcast podcast, his comic book writing, his comic book store, and of course his Q&A talks like the one coming up at C2E2.

This will be my first time seeing Kevin Smith live, although I’ve been a big fan of his work for some time now—and not just of his movies and writing. As a comics writer and voracious reader myself, I can appreciate a good book. But I seem to be one of the few left who can also appreciate a really good audiobook.

Even though I know that not all books translate well into audiobooks (I’m not a fan of listening to novels on tape, for example), it still seems to me the unsung vehicle for storytelling these days. Of all the “low art” mediums I enjoy, audiobooks seem to be regarded as the least popular and legitimate. While comics and cartoons become more and more accepted by the larger culture, audiobooks continue to be dismissed. Yet memoirs and autobiographies in particular can be especially powerful when read by the author. And if you’re looking for a recommendation, let me say that Kevin Smith’s latest audiobook, “Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob who Did Good,” is one of the best I’ve heard.

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Listening to Smith describe how crushing it was when his dad died, or how breathtaking it was to see his first major film, or just hearing how much he enjoys having sex with his wife—these are things meant to be proclaimed or whispered or screamed from the rooftop, not just written about on a page. When Smith’s Spidey Sense tells him that a movie deal is going South, do you really want to read in text how it might be a trap? No. I think we can all agree it would be much better to crank up the volume as he bellows in his own, proud Admiral Ackbar voice, “IT’S A TRAP!!!”

In addition to Smith’s dynamic delivery, the audiobook is full of asides, stories, musings about what it’s like for him read back his own words, new edits and additions if he had a chance to tell his story all over again, and a lot of extras you’ll just miss if you buy the conventional book. If you haven’t given audiobooks a try, “Tough Shit” is a good place to start. Trust me, you’ll like it. A well-crafted audiobook is like the best of This American Life, talk radio, and your favorite stand-up comic all rolled into one.

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Hearing Smith talk about his life and work on CD has been intriguing, poignant, and hilarious. I expect him to be even better in person. Unfortunately, C2E2 tickets for An Evening with Kevin Smith are sold out, so I hope you’ve already got yours. But if you missed out, don’t worry—there’s plenty of excellent programming still coming our way.

Check back here every Monday as I go through the rest of my Top Picks for C2E2 2013. There are four more weeks and four more previews to go before the convention goes live in Chicago. And if you’ll be there, be sure to let us know. We’ll be speaking Friday, April 26 at 1:30pm in room W473 for CSC-1: Kickstarting Your Comics and all weekend long at Artist Alley Booth L14. See you there!

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