On a “Pop Culture Quest” with Mark Hamill: An Interview with Executive Producer/Creator, Scott Kinney

Pop Culture Quest is a NEW show on the ComicCon HQ that follows famous collector and Hollywood icon, Mark Hamill, on his quest to meet a diverse range of collectors and the collections they own.

ComicCon HQ is the newly formed ad-free streaming video-on-demand channel, that features a variety of “Nerd” themed programming in the spirit of one of the world’s biggest event – the San Diego Comic Con. Programming includes original series, entertainment news, reviews on movies and television and event coverage that includes WonderCon and of course, the San Diego Comic Con.

Personally, I am very excited about this show! Those who follow Mark Hamill on Twitter will know just how perfect his humor and fandom is as the role of host. Not to mention how much of a Hamill Hamster/Skywalker FANBOY that I am!

Star Wars Reporter was able to catch up with Executive Producer and Creator of Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, Scott Kinney, to talk more about “Pop Culture”, Mark Hamill, and the quest for collectors.

How did you come up with the idea for “Pop Culture Quest”?

Scott: I’m a collector of Kenner Star Wars toys from the 70s-80s as well as other toy lines and comic books from that era. So, I wanted to create a show that would appeal to like-minded collectors. I had the good fortune to attract two collaborators to this idea, fellow executive producers Darren Moorman and Howard Kazanjian, who helped shape this loose idea into something more complex and compelling. Howard, who worked as a VP at Industrial Light and Magic and produced Return of the Jedi, brought the idea to his friend Mark Hamill, who teamed with us to turn a wish into reality!

What is “Pop Culture”?

Scott: When I think of pop culture, I think of Andy Warhol, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Neal Adams. In the 1960s, these creative gurus helped thrust the comic book graphic aesthetic into the mainstream. That “kid stuff” became hip and cool and very influential in other mediums like film and television. Now, the term is fairly broad and can apply to anything from cereal boxes to a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Our show looks at that broader realm of pop culture collecting as opposed to just comic books, but there’s plenty for comic fans to love in the series.

Fandoms have always been a “counter-culture”. The “demand format” that ComicCon HQ uses isn’t a Scott:conventional delivery system of content. Do you feel more free to produce the content you want without the supervision of a “network” or traditional production?

Scott: Comic-Con HQ is the perfect home for Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest because this show is what they’re literally all about. Not collecting per se, but, as you probably know, the San Diego Comic-Con is the biggest celebration of pop culture on the planet! I can’t imagine a better pairing to be honest. Also, the streaming format allows us to create content that doesn’t necessarily have to conform to a certain formula. The network almost seems like it was tailor made for me as a viewer. In addition to their original programming, there’s some fantastic “geek” TV shows, films, and documentaries on Comic-Con HQ. Even some obscure stuff that you don’t run across that often. Any fan of pop culture should take advantage of the free trial they offer and see for themselves.

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What is the fan reaction to Mark Hamill hosting the show? How do people react from a visit from Luke Skywalker/The Joker?

Scott: To a person, all of our guest collectors were just busting to meet Mark! In the collecting community, it’s pretty well known that he’s a serious collector himself. And Mark is genuinely interested in seeing new collections and is naturally very inquisitive when he spots something he’s never seen before. The whole star/fan barrier thing drops and you see two collectors just geeking out!

Do you have any collections? If so, what do you collect?

Scott: I mentioned earlier that I collect vintage Star Wars and comic books, but I also collect (hoard?) lunch boxes, stickers, trading cards, board games, posters, and anything else that I either had, or would have wanted as a kid. I’m the worst kind of Peter Pan character you’ll ever meet. As the song goes. “I don’t wanna grow up, cause if I did, I couldn’t be a Toys R Us kid!”

What kind of “Pop Culture” collections can we expect this season? What is the most common type of collection?

Scott: We tried to really mix it up, so viewers will see toys, movie props, comic books, film/tv cars, sneakers (really!), and tons of other fun stuff! Also, some incredibly rare pieces that I’m pretty sure haven’t been featured on television in some time, or never at all.

What do you think is the lure of Pop Culture and collecting that draws fans in?

Scott: Collectibles are like owning a tangible piece of something you love. For instance, if you love DC’s Joker, then you probably own a Joker action figure, or statue, or t-shirt, or button, or all of the above and then some! These kinds of items seem to magically connect us to the characters we’re infatuated with.

Mark Hamill and David Mandel, Executive Producer of HBO's VEEP, looking at David's original piece of Howard Chaykin's artwork for Marvel's Star Wars #1
Mark Hamill and David Mandel, Executive Producer of HBO’s VEEP, looking at David’s original piece of Howard Chaykin’s artwork for Marvel’s Star Wars #1

Are there any famous celebrity collectors that you intend/want to visit?

Scott: Definitely. Now that the word is getting out about this show, I’ve been contacted by folks who want to share their collection with Mark. That said, our first season features some world class collections that are literally museum-worthy.

Is there a difference between the collector that collects sports items and those that collect toys?

Scott: No, they share many habits. In a hobby like collecting, you’ve got people who only collect rarities, or who want to have the biggest collection, or the most valuable collection, etc., it’s all about personalities and motivations. I’ve personally been collecting for long enough now that I get bored with seeing the same things again and again, so it’s fun to find something really odd or different. I imagine that’s true in any category, be it rock concert posters or Barbie dolls.

I have long believed that the “Nerd” culture isn’t a subculture anymore but has become mainstream. Are people more open to “coming out of the Nerd closet” and sharing their collections and interests?

Scott: Yes, nerds do feel more comfortable today flying their geek flags, lol! I do. I’ve felt somewhat self-conscious in the past about showing my collection to a “normal” person, but often surprised that people are delighted and fascinated by what they see. Toys in particular have a way of awakening forgotten memories. Many times I’ve heard comments like, “Oh, I had one of those when I was a kid, it was my favorite thing!”

Is it weird for Mark Hamill to see a Star Wars collection and all the toys that look like him, ie.Luke Skywalker?

Scott: I can partly answer for Mark because I’ve now visited many collections by his side. He doesn’t personally collect Star Wars stuff, but he appreciates it and completely understands why people collect SW memorabilia. Viewers will see some of his reactions to things like this on the show, so I don’t want to give too much away.

Executive Producer/Creator team of PCQ pictured inside the DC Comics archive room. From left to right: Darren Moorman, Howard Kazanjian, Mark Hamill, and Scott Kinney
Executive Producer/Creator team of PCQ pictured inside the DC Comics archive room. From left to right: Darren Moorman, Howard Kazanjian, Mark Hamill, and Scott Kinney

What is it like working with Mark Hamill on the show?

Scott: For me, working with Mark was very surreal because Luke Skywalker was my biggest hero growing up. I saw Star Wars in 1977 when I was in the third grade. I was already a sci-fi/fantasy fan thanks to Star Trek, which was in syndication during that time, and Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty were like my Beatles. But, Luke Skywalker captured my imagination like no other fictional character. I think it’s because Luke was a dreamer. That scene where he looks over the horizon of Tatooine towards the setting twin suns struck such a deep chord within me. I’ve heard others say the exact same thing, so I know I’m not alone in this. Mark Hamill sold us all on the farm boy dreamer who became the galaxy’s greatest hero. He’s such an amazing talent, and it’s quite an honor to be working with him to create these shows. Mark’s very collaborative and truly considers this a joint effort, which is great.

Additionally, I also want to mention the rest of PCQ team because it wouldn’t have been the same show without them. Jeff Conroy, who has produced mega-hit reality television shows like Deadliest Catch, Ax Men, and Ice Road Truckers, joined the PCQ team as an Executive Producer and brought a wealth of experience. He also brought his top drawer crew with him, which includes our Editor and Supervising Producer Josh Earl, who is a comic book and film prop collector, Tim Beers, our Director and fellow Supervising Producer, our Line Producer Karen DuMont, and our Production Manager Sara Bezdrob. I want to name everyone, but explore the credits at the end and you’ll see our crew is comprised of the best in the business! Additionally, Seth Laderman and his talented staff at Comic-Con HQ have been true partners with us, rolling up their sleeves and working right alongside us.

What do you hope the viewers will take away from this show? What do you want people to learn about Pop Culture collectors?

Scott: First, I think the show will appeal to collectors and non-collectors alike because it’s just so full of interesting things, interesting people, and fascinating trivia. From day one, Mark said if this isn’t fun, let’s not do it. He meant that for us making the show as well as the audience. I view the show like a Snickers bar. Yeah, it’s candy, but it’s a more substantial candy, almost healthy, right?! Sometimes, you just need a Snickers bar.

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About Steve Fitch 533 Articles
From the moment Steve Fitch first watched Star Wars: A New Hope in the theater when he was a child, he wanted to be Luke Skywalker when he “grew up” (and STILL does!). He now shares this passion with his wife, two daughters, friends and fans. Steve is the Founder of Star Wars Reporter and when not immersed in all things Star Wars, you can find him training in Muay Thai, Italian Rapier, all things VIKING, or spending time with family and friends. FOLLOW Steve on TWITTER: @WookieeSteve