Comic Book Confidential | Chicago Reader

Comic Book Confidential

A very enjoyable documentary survey of American comic books by Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann (Imagine the Sound, Poetry in Motion). Newspaper comic strips such as Little Nemo in Slumberland, Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy, Li'l Abner, and Peanuts are omitted, but within the comic-book field, Mann's reach is fairly broad, extending from diverse superheroes such as Superman and the Fantastic Four to EC Comics to underground specialists Robert Crumb and Spain Rodrigues and the likes of Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry, and Sue Coe. Numerous jazzy graphic devices are employed to represent the work, including simplified animation and individual frames accompanied by the artists reading the captions and dialogue aloud, and the interviews are generally both lively and pertinent. Mann also gets a lot of amusing mileage out of archival footage of anti-comic-book propaganda from the 50s. One misses the in-depth formal analysis of overseas experts like Francis Lacissin, but otherwise Mann's grasp of his subject is lively, penetrating, and affectionate (1988).

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