By Kevin Smith
July 22, 2009 at 11:00 PM EDT

Leslie Mann
After the EW panel last year, I was backstage talking to Zack Snyder about an early peep at Watchmen when Leslie Mann (the actress and Judd Apatow’s wife) was passing by, stopped, and said, “Oh my God…you are so funny.” I just about passed out.

Here’s why: I’ve always dug Leslie Mann. I think she’s really funny and insanely credible on film. So there was that. But also? She’s married to Judd — the guy whose movies are like mine, but way more financially successful. That summer, I couldn’t walk a block without someone saying “Did you see Knocked Up?” or weirder, “Did you make Knocked Up?” Judd Worship had begun in earnest, and online, for some, Judd Worship was somehow equated with me being suddenly irrelevant. Because there was a Judd, some were writing, there was no more need for me and my bulls— flicks. One blogger even sited “…Judd’s unprecedented, repeated use of the same actors in his potty-mouthed-yet-heartfelt comedies.” It was like I’d never existed.

So, naturally, when the pretty girl married to the newly crowned King of Comedy took a moment, apropos of nothing, to tell me I was funny…well, the timing couldn’t have been better. This is gonna sound stupid, but that brief exchange was not only one of my top 10 Comic-Con memories, it’s also a top 10 Zack and Miri-related memory, as well.

Moral of the story: a kind word goes further than one can ever realize.

One more, after the jump…

addCredit(“Kevin Smith: Amanda Schwab/; Leslie Mann: Bill Davila/”)

Bob Chapman
Maybe he’s not a celeb to anybody else, but Chapman was like a rock star to me. Because before Chappy, people simply read comics.

As a comic-book freak circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s, the biggest name in the biz after DC and Marvel was always Graphitti Designs. Bob had the simple, brilliant idea to take images fans loved and stick them on t-shirts. Sure, merchandisers had been sticking Bats, Supes, and Wonder Woman on shirts for decades; but we’re talking about the obscure characters that could never hope to find life beyond the paneled-pages: Mage, Madman, Morpheus of the Dreaming (a.k.a., the Sandman) — a character that Chappy hired Randy Bowed to sculpt a limited run of what could only be described as high-art pieces. Chapman realized that fans wanted to wear their passion for lesser-known comics, either on their shelves or across their chests, and he invested a couple bucks in a dream — thereby creating a marketplace where there had been none.

I’d been wearing his shirts for years when I met him at Comic-Con ’96 — the first time View Askew had ever set up a booth. Introduced by then-Oni comics editor Bob Schreck, I spent the next hour trying to convince Chappy to make a Jay and Silent Bob t-shirt. As a longtime comics nerd, the thought of opening the Diamond Distributor’s catalogue and seeing a picture of a Jay and Silent Bob shirt anywhere — let alone in Graphitti’s section of the book — about made me skeet in my Boba Fett underoos, sized XXXXL. Mercifully, Chappy’s kid was a fan and told his pop it’d be worth a shot. Thirteen years later, Bob and I have built a cottage industry that caters to people who like my flicks/comics. I’m often kidded (and flat-out mocked) for all the merchandise I’ve been involved with, but in all honesty, Bob and I never made anything the audience didn’t ask for in the first place. (Alright, that’s mostly true; NOBODY asked for the “Gay and Silent Bob” t-shirt featuring our faces in hearts; Chappy just thought’d be funny.)

We’ve slowed it all down in the last two years, but decades from now, when I’m long-dead, relatives I’ll never even meet will still be wearing shirts with my face on them…‘cause we’ve got warehouses full’a remainders. And it all started at Comic-Con.