Sunday, March 27, 2011

11 Things to Think About from "Comic Book Confidential"

"Comic Book Confidential" clearly beats "Caveman: V.T. Hamlin & Alley Oop" as the weakest artist documentary I've seen to date. "Caveman's" primary shortcoming is its lack in first-person content thereby rendering it weak. "Comic Book" has the actual artists and does little with them except have most of them read the panels from their books! There's lots of graphics and music but comparably little from the artists themselves which is a huge shame considering the impressive list of contributors: Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Art Spiegelman, Jaime Hernandez, Harvey Pekar, William Gaines, Jr., Al Feldstein, Stan Lee, Dan O'Neill, Shary Flenniken, Bill Griffith, Sue Coe and Charles Burns. 

As I said before, despite a documentary's shortcomings, one can still get something of value from it. Here are 11 thoughts I pulled from this film:

1. Eisner: finally, there was a medium that allowed a man with ineptitudes in both fields [writing and drawing] and put them together and come out with an eptitude.

I can deal in two levels, writing and acting. It has a completeness to it.

2. Gaines: people went crazy for the Marx Brothers because had never seen anything like it. That's how MAD [magazine] was received.

3. Kurtzman: I knew exactly what I wanted and did exactly what I wanted so it came out all right.

4. Lee: we tried to have the people talk like real people, to define the characters and have them stay in character, to have stories that, while imaginative, still had some realism, some believability so the readers could relate to and believe in the stories.

5. O'Neill: crawl out there and disrupt the body politic, scramble it.

Re: Disney's lawsuit against him—We started with a hopeless condition. If you're going down in flames, hit something big.

6. Flenniken: able to talk about extreme subjects because the style of the art is innocent and accessible.

7. Griffith: someone has to stand outside the whole thing and look at it and tell you what's going on. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.

8. Coe: Art is about hearing information and passing it on, making it accessible to other people. Comics is an inexpensive way to do this. They [corporations? government?] can't control that so much.

9. Burns: [wanted to create a] more personal, internalized horror rather than a physical; a mental horror.

10. Spiegelman re: "Maus": the metaphor was meant to be shucked like a snake skin.

11. Miller: what trying to do recently [the 1980's] is to take the stuff of the old comics and do it in a way that's worth reading for me.

Whatever stories I write have to do with what's going on around me. 1980's America is a silly, frightening place, often silly and frightening at the same time. I hope "The Dark Knight" is silly and frightening at the same time.

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