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>
The best overview of the medium so far, but it needs refining.
When this film came out, it was a refreshing and enjoyable movie. It treats comics with some real respect and takes the time to explore the medium in some detail.
However, there are some flaws. Some of the talents interviewed do not work in comic books per se, but in comic STRIPS, a variant of the medium that has gotten much more respect over the years than comic books. However, that variant has it's own history and dicipline that is distinct from comic books and should not have been included. This is meaning no disrespect talents like Bill Griffith, but it's like having a film discussing the art and history of movies and having TV series producers interviewed. They are part of a related medium, but are really not relevant to the main subject of the film.
Otherwise, it does cover a fairly complete view of the form with giants like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Robert Crumb, although I would have liked to have seen talents like Alan Moore (Swamp Thing, Watchmen) or the Pini's (Elfquest) being interviewed. The animated sequences were a neat way to get the atmosphere of the comics in their different eras as well as the major characters. The footage of the pages from "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" was particularly effective.
In short, if you need a quick overview of the comic book as a form of art, then this film is well worth your time.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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