May 31st, 2009

COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL (1989) ***

Documentary filmmaker Ron (Grass) Mann directed this intriguing flick which (forgive the pun) sketches the history of American comic books.  Mann interviews such comics luminaries as William (Mad) Gaines, Will (The Spirit) Eisner, Jack (The Fantastic Four) Kirby, Frank (The Dark Knight Returns) Miller, and Stan Lee (who is interviewed while standing next to an awesome Spider-Man pinball machine); who all give their two cents worth about why comics are so great.  Mann also delves into the 50’s Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency where comic books were singled out as the number one destroyer of our nation’s youth; which lead to dozens of titles (including the beloved Tales from the Crypt) being discontinued and the eventual creation of “The Comics Code”.

 

I’m a rabid comic book fan, and although I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary, it still wasn’t perfect.  To me, Mann focused way too much on the underground comic scene.  While I did enjoy seeing Robert Crumb interviewed (years before he got his own documentary), most of the dudes Mann talked to I had never heard of and didn’t really care that much about.  Comic Book Confidential may not be the final word on the subject, but that’s okay because the parts where the artists narrated their own panels was super cool.  Hell, I’d watch a whole movie that was nothing but Stan Lee narrating old Spider-Man comics.