documentary tells the story of American comics from their very start right
through the 1950s and the moral scare that led to public comic book
burnings (I kid you not!) until today - or at least 1989, the year in
which it was made.
It attempts to this within a mere hour and a half of
running time. Obviously it ends up being a mere fleeting glance at what is
? along with jazz - one of the truly original art forms to have come out
Let's face up to it here, folks -
comic books deserve a documentary of Ken
Burns-ian proportions to do it justice! We're talking an entire TV series
here, not just a once-off documentary like Comic Book Confidential.
However, within its limited time frame, Comic Book Confidential
still does a good job. As a lifelong comics fan -
I have several huge
trunks of the stuff I've dragged along with me since childhood -
it fascinating to finally attach some faces to names well known to me.
Watching some of the writers/artists featured here read aloud from their
own works with semi-animated examples of their art accompanying them is an
One of my favourite vignettes is of a short story about
an obsessive jazz collector written by Harvey Pekar and illustrated by the
legendary Robert Crumb (of Fritz the Cat fame). Being a somewhat
compulsive, if not obsessive, collector of 1960s jazz on the Blue Note
record label this particular story held special meaning for me.
Watching clips from the 1950s moral scare about comic books corrupting the
youth and resulting in juvenile delinquency also made me chuckle
appreciatively, not just in a Mystery Science
Theater 3000 sort of way, but because they reminded me of my own
parents who also blamed a whole variety of ills -
particularly any of my
bad school grades -
on comic books. (One of their complaints was that the
bad grammar and spelling in the comics I read would lead to bad grades.
This conveniently ignored the fact that I consistently got the highest
marks for English in my entire class. To be fair though, comic books
usually do contain bad grammar and even worse spelling. Enuff sed.)
documentary's chronology stops in 1989, so there isn't
anything about the boom and bust years of comics in the 1990s for
instance. Depending on one's tastes one may also feel that the movie
spends too much time on obscure underground adult comics than the
superhero stuff you dig, but that's also because of the running time
DISC: This region 2 disc has . . . a menu and scene access. Not even a
trailer in sight. Apparently the Region 1 disc (US & Canada) has an
introduction by Chasing Amy director Kevin Smith - it is apparently
one of his favourite movies. Still, I picked it up for so cheap that I
wasn't expecting much in the line of extras.
WORTH IT? If you're a comics fan, then yeah
but just how many of those are there left nowadays? Today's younger
generation have computer games instead and statements like
"I have never
so much as opened one of the Spider-man
comic books, but still enjoyed the movie" are depressingly enough becoming
more common nowadays. Are there any twentysomethingers out there who
still read? As a child I may have been
reading crap according to my old man, but at least I was reading
something . . .
RECOMMENDATION: Long-time comics fans who
haven't yet seen it yet should buy this disc. It
may be outdated, but they'll have a blast. However, this documentary is
unlikely to win any new converts for what has become a minority interest
in the past decade or so. Non-comics fans should try picking up some good
graphic novels instead . . .