Sunday, January 22, 2012

Comic Book Confidential

by Drew Martin
I watched Comic Book Confidential online today, which is a film that surveys the history of the comic book medium, starting with the hero characters created during World War II. The movie is from 1988 but it is dated in all the right ways. For one thing it is a time when the comic book was still a comic book. A young Art Spiegelman, who is interviewed in the film, had published his first completed volume of Maus only two years prior. Although the label graphic novel had been around for some time before, it was with Maus that I recall the term got traction in the general public, mainly because the content about the Holocaust was too grave to refer to as a comic. Along with Spiegelman, the film features more than twenty artists including Frank Miller, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb and William Gaines - who says his father invented the comic book from the Sunday comics. One of the treats of the film is that several of the artists read from their works. Eisner succinctly expresses the draw to creating comics,

"I can tell a whole story at two levels. I can deal in writing and I can deal in acting. It has a completeness to it that satisfies me."