TJFF: "Comic Book Confidential" Review

Published: April 22nd 2010
in Culture » Movies

Screen Grab: Comic Book Confidential

Once thought of as subversive and threatening, comic books have evolved from flimsy newspaper format to book form. This movie is not so much a cinematic masterpiece as it is a history lesson.


It’s a veritable who’s who of Jewish pioneers in the comic book industry, and creator Ron Mann puts forward his theory that comic books are a valid art form.


The film opens with a look at the "funnies," which were sold for a dime in the early 1930s. Four years later, the industry took off when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created “Superman.” By World War II, comics were filled with Nazi-related content .


In the '40s, comics were laden with crime fighting superheroes and these, along with horror comics, were especially popular with kids. By the ’50s, however, there was tremendous backlash against violence in comic books, and the medium was considered a cause for juvenile delinquency; some publishers were even persecuted.


By the '60s and '70s, the genre began to adopt more adult themes, with the artists expressing their own personal style and opinions. The story of the comic book industry is truly a case of art imitating life. As the times changed, so did the subject matter.


The film then addresses Mad Magazine, which took on society and advertising through parody and satire and shaped the generation that followed. An entire counter-culture developed out of reading Mad.


According to creator Ron Mann, comics have always been seen as a sort of junk culture, but through the film, they have become legitimized. These days, more adults are reading comics and parents with kids are rediscovering them because of what their kids are into. They have more of a place in mainstream pop culture today than they did even at the time of the movie’s release. And this in itself speaks volumes.




Related articles: (TJFF, Comic book, movie, film, festival)

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