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In the 20th century, no artistic medium in North America with so much potential for creative expression has had a more turbulent history plagued with less respect than comic books. Through animated montages, readings and interviews, this film guides us through the history of the medium from the late 1930s and 1940s with the first explosion of popularity with the superheroes created by great talents like Jack Kirby and hitting its first artistic zenith with Will Eisner's "Spirit". It then shifts to the post war comics world with the rising popularity of crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC Comics under the editorshiop of William B. Gaines until it came crashing down the rise of censorship with the imposition of the Comics Code. In its wake of the devastation of the medium's creative freedom, we also explore EC's defiant survival with the creation of the singular "Mad Magazine" by Harvey Kurtzman. We then move to the resurgence of the superheroes in the late 1950's ... Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Ron Mann's playful documentary works in two ways, first and foremost as an affectionate thumbnail history of comic books and the social attitudes that nurtured them, from the super patriotic fervor of the Second World War to the right-wing paranoia of McCarthyism to the counterculture underground of the '60s and beyond. Elsewhere it's an introduction to almost two-dozen comic artists (the tag cartoonist doesn't do them justice) still plying their trade, all of them misfits, rebels, radicals, and malcontents. Snappy graphics and sample art combine to make the film a colorful celebration of an enduring and popular form of self-expression, with one drawback: most of the highlighted artists could have inspired their own full length feature, and the film simply isn't long enough to examine them individually to the depth they each deserve. Also, parents please note: despite the subject matter this is certainly not a film for children.
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