Jason Mewes remembers when comic book conventions were fairly rinky-dink affairs. This was back in the mid-1990s, when Mewes was introduced to movie audiences as the trash-talking, break-dancing character Jay in such Kevin Smith-directed comedies as “Clerks” and “Mallrats.” The typical comic book convention wasn’t much more than a modest gathering of artists plus toys, memorabilia and the people who collect them.
But now, “comic cons” are like pop culture on parade. The Wizard World Comic Con kicks off Friday and will take over the Sacramento Convention Center through Sunday. Thousands are expected at attend, a mass gathering of folks sporting their favorite superhero and comic book character costumes, or paying $110 for a photo op with Norman Reedus of “The Walking Dead.” Other actors offering a chance this weekend to buy an autograph or selfie include Danny Trejo, Henry Winkler, Malcolm McDowell and WWE wrestler Eva Marie.
Mewes will certainly be in his element as well. With Smith, Mewes will record an episode of the “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” podcast on Saturday night at the adjacent Community Center Theater. On Sunday, Mewes hits the Wizard World Comic Con floor for his own autograph and fan photo sessions.
“I’m a big fan of the comic book conventions,” said Mewes, in a recent interview at The Bee. “Now, it’s crazy. They just keep getting bigger and bigger, and there’s more stuff to see. It gives you the opportunity to meet Norman Reedus and Danny Trejo. It’s grown into something really awesome.”
The taping of the “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” podcast will also be a key part of the comic con mania. Mewes and Smith have taped more than 160 episodes of the podcast, which is released on Wednesdays and riffs on subjects both raunchy and serious.
The podcast was born in 2010, not long after Mewes had relapsed from four years of sobriety. As “Jay and Silent Bob,” Smith and Mewes were something like the Abbott and Costello of indie-film comedy, clowning their way through two “Clerks” films, “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma” and more. But Mewes’ career and longtime friendship with Smith was nearly derailed after an addiction to heroin and OxyContin.
The purpose of the podcast is to help Mewes keep his sobriety in check, by opening up about his struggles and motivating Mewes to stay accountable. It’s almost always taped live in front of an audience.
“Honestly, it’s been a big help for me in staying sober,” said Mewes. “I think in the beginning I was a little hesitant about it. I wasn’t used to being on stage. Yes, I’d done movies, but that’s reading off dialogue compared to actually sharing what you’re thinking. Maybe I’d hold back and stuff, but as time went on I got more comfortable.”
But it’s not all like an ultra-serious episode of “Intervention.” Between all the talk about overcoming addiction are plenty of hilarious, if salacious, stories from days gone by. Each episode usually ends with a mention of how many days Mewes has been off the drugs. Now the actor known for harassing convenience store customers in “Clerks” and coining the phrase “snoochie boochies” (it has no specific meaning) has emerged as a kind of role model.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Mewes. “I’ve had a handful of people tell me about their mother, or their daughter or brother, or whoever it may be, that they listened to the podcast and it’s helped them stay sober. Whenever they’re feeling down, they put on an episode. To me, even if one person is listening and it’s helping them, that’s pretty amazing.”
Besides his regular rounds on the comic con circuit, Mewes is juggling a number of projects. “Mallrats 2” is expected to start filming in October, plus he’s looking to branch out as a director. There’s also a line of “Mewes Juice” vaping products, plus a 10-week-old daughter, Logan, at home in Southern California.
And of course, there will be plenty of appearances at comic cons and podcasts to tape.
“We’ve been all over Canada and the States, so many places I don’t think I’d ever go if it wasn’t for the podcast,” said Mewes. “To be able to do the podcast and hang out at the convention is an awesome thing.”
Wizard World Comic Con
- What: A three-day celebration of comic books and pop culture, with numerous celebrities, comic artists, panels and more
- Where: Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., Sacramento
- When: 3-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
- Cost: $40-$50 entry; three-day passes sold out. $24.50-$44.50 for Saturday’s “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old” podcast recording at the Sacramento Community Center.
- Information: www.wizardworld.com