Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett discusses SDCC exclusive merchandise, brand oddities, and the marketing potential of dumpster fires.

Comic-Con is happening this week in San Diego, and while there are events I wish I could attend there and creators I'd like to meet, I have to confess there are things about it which consistently leave me cold.  Chief among them, Con Exclusives.  It's a combination of no longer having that much interest in licensed merchandise plus the effort required to acquire them. You are expected to "chase" Con Exclusives, but I'm not up for chasing much of anything anymore. I know, as a Comic Book Guy, I’m expected to care about such things; even Newsweek seems to think so otherwise they wouldn't run pieces like Comic Con 2019 Must Have Exclusives.  According to this piece, Comic-Con boasts "some of the best exclusives and rarities of the year, even more so than other conventions."  And while it is not in my estimation a "must-have" I will admit the Macho Man Randy Savage Slim Jim Figure did catch my eye.

But I'm not made of stone, so my eyes lit up when I saw Toy Maker 100% Soft Reveals ‘Dumpster Fire’ Toy As San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive.  This 3.5" x 3.5" x 2.75" hand-cast and painted toy comes in two versions, purple and blue color, and retails for $50. It also comes signed and numbered by creator Truck Torrance.  So, it's very much a collectible, but I think it could be a lot bigger than that. "Dumpster Fire," defined as an "an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation," was 2016's word of the year and has become a convenient catch-all term for nearly everything awful. It's made numerous appearances in memes and cartoons.  Naturally, it's the name of a band and it even made an appearance in a political ad, but it could also become a character/merchandising colossus.

It only needs two things: wheels (for added mobility), and a name.  For the latter, I nominate another fairly new word, "Derp," often used as an exclamation and defined as "speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action” (originated in the 1998 film Baseketball).  Seriously, I see Derp the Dumpster Fire as an animated series, and I don’t mean an edgy Adult Swim sort of thing.  I imagine it as a perfectly normal-looking kids' cartoon show that just happens to be about a sentient dumpster fire that goes around trying to help people with their problems without realizing it is the problem.  It could be Casper the Friendly Ghost for the impending apocalypse generation and with a little luck, the next Grumpy Cat.

And I also wouldn't mind grabbing a couple of Bug Bars. To put that last sentence into some kind of context, in September, TBS will premiere a Snowpiercer TV series starring Jennifer Connelly and David Diggs.  It’s based on the 2013 film of the same name about a post-apocalyptic world where the last of humanity inhabits a never-stopping train, which was based on the bande dessinee (French graphic novel) trilogy Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette.  And as outlined in Snowpiercer Is Giving Away Cricket Powder-Based 'Bug Bars' at SDCC, the cable network is teaming with EXO, a subsidiary of the Aspire Food Group, to give away "protein bars made from cricket powder."

I don't doubt that the words "cricket powder" (also known as cricket flour or cricket protein flour) made a lot of you go "ewww," but I would be eager to try them.  Partially because I'm big and brave, though I'll admit some of my courage comes from the fact that bars also "may contain peanuts, almonds, and coconuts."  Anyone interested in trying them should be aware that the product "could potentially trigger a reaction from those with crustacean and shellfish allergies."  This is because crickets are, strangely enough, crustaceans.

Products made using cricket flour (also known as "cricket protein flour") have been around for a while, and I've always thought they could become popular with the proper promotion (if for no other reason than insect-infused confections is something new that hipsters and foodies can use  to freak out their parents).  This may be the first step.  If that seems entirely unlikely, so was the idea so many Americans would find a plant-based patty like the Impossible Burger in any way comparable to ground beef a couple of months ago.

I just hope EXO eventually makes them available for the direct sales market because they’re just the kind of hard-to-find item that might bring new customers into our stores.  And if candy bars, of any kind, doesn't seem like something that would sell, or should be sold, in a comic book shop, I was around in the 90s and remember selling a lot of Kitchen Sink Press candy bars (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Munchie Bars, Betty Boop Sweet Boop-A-Doop Bars, etc.).  Something I just found out, the cigar box style displays that they came in are now considered collector's items. Boy, those things were tasty!

Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have copies of the Snowpiercer graphic novel available when the TBS show debuts (see "'Snowpiercer' Switches Tracks").  Or to be sure to remember than in September Titan Books will be publishing the English edition of its prequel, Snowpiercer: Extinction, as we learned on ICv2 back in March?

Last November, I wrote a tribute in response to the passing of Stan Lee (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy - The Architect Is Now Among The Watchers") the title of would have made more sense if at the time had been able to find a usable image of Stan Lee's cameo from Guardians of the Galaxy 2.  That's the one where Mr. Lee in a spacesuit spins some yarns for a bunch of Watchers, and it’s my favorite of Mr. Lee’s Marvel film cameos.  It's partially because The Watchers are some of my favorite Marvel characters, sure, but also it was so unexpected, appropriate and funny.  Well, that cameo has now been immortalized in action figure form, Hot Toys' Latest Marvel Figure Is Truly Excelsior.  I’ve already confessed to not being all that interested in licensed merchandise, well that goes double for action figures; at the moment I don’t even have a place to put them. But yeah, I wouldn’t much mind having one of those.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of