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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super!
Comic Book Confidential is a fun and intelligent look at the history and evolution of comic books, mostly through interviews with some great talents and/or innovators, portraying comic books as the wonderful, subversive, unique 20th century artform that it is.
Unlike most documentaries on comic books, this film does not fall into the trap of focusing on those...
Published on June 7, 2002 by Blahblahblah

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3 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Comic Book Confidential..What Happen...?
The Film opens up good with a short history on the industry,there is some interviews on there with Legends such as Stan Lee and Eisner, and you have frank miller thrown in. But the film became more of a social commentary on censorship and a bunch of obscure comicbooks and their creators. I like the Golden age stuff,I was excited to see it on Netflix because of Stan Lee...
Published on June 9, 2010 by Jose Lopez


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super!, June 7, 2002
By 
Blahblahblah (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
Comic Book Confidential is a fun and intelligent look at the history and evolution of comic books, mostly through interviews with some great talents and/or innovators, portraying comic books as the wonderful, subversive, unique 20th century artform that it is.
Unlike most documentaries on comic books, this film does not fall into the trap of focusing on those stereotypical comics (i.e. superhero comics) which usually represent the lowest level of the artform. In fact, the film makes the point that superhero comics would have remained low in popularity if it weren't for the existence of the Comic Book Authority which helped turn the majority of comics into mediocre drivel. The film does note how Stan Lee tried to inject some relevance into superhero titles by turning the characters into human beings, and how others like Frank Miller (with his Dark Knight Returns) have attempted to make artistically valid superhero comics. However, the film is far more concerned with the individual expression of such artists as Robert Crumb, Sue Coe and Paul Mavrides. But even collectors more interested in the mainstream will find much of interest in this documentary.
The film begins with a look at E.C. comics and the backlash created against such titles by Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent". There is an excerpt from a U.S. government documentary (easily as amazing as the old "duck and cover" how-to-survive-a-nuclear-war documentary) about how reading one 8 page story will turn a child into a homicidal maniac who sticks knives into trees (I'd like to know who gave them weapons in the first place), plus footage of mass comic book burnings reminiscent of the brief Beatles backlash which will break the hearts of most lovers of pre-Code comics. Footage of Congressional investigations into comics (Bill Gaines is shown testifying) also clearly parallels the then-contemporaneous HUAC red scare.
The film then shows how the Comic Code Authority (the industry's Senator McCarthy) was formed and ruined the artform with its contextual blacklist (one of their more racist decisions is shown), and how the Authority was largely abused by some companies in order to destroy their competition, e.g., forcing E.C. to fold with the exception of Mad Magazine which did not fall under the Code's mandate. It then goes into how the underground comix arose as a backlash against both the Code and/or mainstream society and illustrates their vital role as part of the late 1960s counterculture. This is followed by the underground movement's evolution into more artistically meritorious individual expressions (vs. mere backlashes) in such titles as Art Spiegleman's Raw and Los Bros. Hernandez' Love and Rockets. There is also a look at Dan O'Neill's legal problems with Walt Disney and the banning of his Air Pirates comic by a court unfamiliar with artists' rights to create parodies.
Along the way, there are visually exciting montages of comic book art and photographs and films of, e.g., the early 1970s San Fran scene accompanied by lots of great music (jazz, bluegrass, etc.). Also, many of the artists interviewed (Harvey Pekar, Gilbert Shelton, Charles Burns, etc.) do a wonderful job of performing some of their short stories while their artwork is shown on the screen.
This is a thought-provoking film which will have you laughing out loud even while you're learning, and is highly recommended to anyone, whether they just read mainstream comic books or don't read comics at all. Those not already familiar with the best the industry has to offer will be pleasantly surprised.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Comic Book Documentary, July 22, 2002
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This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
Some reviewers may be confusing "Comic Book Confidential" with "Masters of Comic Book Art," a 1987 video that profiles Eisner, Kurtzman, Kirby, Ditko, Adams, Wrightson, Moebius, Miller, Sim, and Spiegelman--and is indeed hosted by Harlan Ellison. "Comic Book Confidential" is NOT hosted by Harlan Ellison and is not shot in a boring, banal manner. It's a terrific movie movie, much in the spirit of "Crumb." It was also released, once upon a time, in the CD-ROM format, copies of which may still be available.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF COMIC BOOKS, October 25, 2004
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This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
Comic Book Confidential is one of the best documentaries on comics and has a timeless feel about it. Made in 1989, it remains relevant over time. Generally, it's a historical rather than a 'confidential' look at the medium. But it is so well executed that one has to admire Mann's witty, creative and heartfelt approach. I've seen a few other documentaries on the subject and few 'feel' as personal.

However, as this IS a vast subject, Ron does run out of time, leaving one begging for a sequel. We see snippets of the late Jack Kirby, and you find yourself wanting to see more of the man. Ditto for the other creators.

The documentary leans heavily towards the underground and more adult aspect of comics rather than the men-in-tights superhero genre so be prepared. If you're expecting to see an extensive in-depth explication of Batman, this is not the documentary to watch. If you want an overview of American comic book culture and a peek into its varied nuances, Comic Book Confidential is for you.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best comic book documentary on DVD, March 9, 2005
By 
G. Cepeda (Columbus, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
I have an old laserdisc copy of this documentary and can vouch for its quality.

While it's NOT a complete history of comics, it's a good summary for people who want to learn general comic book history and become familiar with some of the great names in comic book history.

I'm glad to hear that the extras which existed on the LD edition have been ported to the DVD version. People will enjoy the comics extras and be transported back in time to when these concepts and characters were new while reading the old comics.

Recently, the History Channel aired its own documentary on superheroes, but the older Comic Book Confidential still blows the newer documentary away. To top it off, the History Channel has only offered a DVD-R of its program and if anybody is familiar with DVD-Rs, you know they aren't as professionally produced as a standard DVD and lack the chapter stops and extras most of us expect as standard requirements for a GOOD DVD!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original film was great - The BD adds 50% more in bonus footage., December 17, 2012
This BD is titled the "20th Anniversary Edition" but it's really the 23rd Anniversary Edition. Confused? So was I but the original film was released in 1989, making 2009 the 20th anniversary when it was released on DVD. But this version is the first one on Bluray and I'm told that the bonus features are new. So with better resolution and the bonus features I can certainly recommend this new version.

There are plenty of other reviews here of the film itself so I won't spend a lot of time covering that except to say that the graphics are GREAT and the really cool parts are when the well known cartoonists like Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman and William Gaines (can you tell I'm a long -time "Mad Magazine" fan?) as well as Stan Lee read from their stories. And the soundtrack uses pop music classics to emphasize the narrative of this documentary. There's great use of "exploitation films" of the 1950s describing the "dangers to society caused by comic books" too.

Note: Be aware that Amazon groups reviews of ALL versions of a film together so it's best to sort reviews by date with "most recent" at the top and then note which version is being reviewed.

The bonus footage adds 40 minutes to the 85 minute feature with interviews with those in the film and others, like Jules Feiffer and Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar and Drew Friedman. These are stories which, IMHO, should have been included in the film but weren't (I guess) for time purposes

Whether you love superhero comic books of the 1950s and 60s, "Mad Magazine" or it's imitators, or the underground comics of the late 1960s, I'm pretty sure you'll love this Bluray disc And if you have the earlier one without the bonuses, you'll probably want to see this one also - there's 50% more stuff here!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ron Mann's COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL, January 26, 2004
By 
Christopher W. Griffin (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
A nice and unusually accessible introduction to an American artform. Yes, don't confuse this with THE MASTERS OF COMIC BOOK ART, hosted by Harlan Ellison. Two very different videos! Looking at developments since then- Fantagraphics' catalog, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf etc. I wish there was a sequel!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overview of great comic book art, February 19, 2009
This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
We're not talking about the Sunday funnies here -- no Peanuts or Dilbert or Garfield. As fine and as funny as they are, they're not the pinnacle of the comic book art form. We're talking about comics that possess both ambition and an edge.

This film is a lovingly-made historical review of the greatest American comic book art and the pioneering artists who created it. It covers a roughly 50-year period from the late 1930s to the late 1980s. There are interviews and readings with 22 masters, from early heroes like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, William Gaines, Stan Lee, and Robert Crumb to modern geniuses like Lynda Barry, Frank Miller, Bill Griffith, Harvey Pekar, and Art Spiegelman. You couldn't ask for a better introduction to the art form, as the director allows these mainstream and underground comic artists to speak for themselves.

The DVD is presented in a standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Extras include an interview with the director, a full story from each artist that is viewable onscreen, and an illustrated 16-page booklet with profiles of each artist. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comics 101, January 16, 2010
This review is from: Comic Book Confidential (DVD)
Though not without its flaws, "Comic Book Confidential" (1989) emerges as an insightful look at the history and evolution of the comic-book medium. Canadian writer-director Ron Mann has the right feel for such an ambitious project - chronicling the 1930s origins that led to the superheroes of DC and Marvel Comics, through the EC and Mad heyday of the 1950s, and culminating in the underground style of the 1980s. Mann covers a lot of ground, featuring interviews with Will Eisner, Mad's William Gaines and Marvel's Stan Lee. The visual techniques are engagingly imaginative as the artists bring the comic-book world to life by narrating their own works. During the final third, Mann places too much emphasis on the underground genre - thus knocking the documentary structure off balance until a strong rebound at the finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously, It's Great!, January 8, 2010
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The most enjoyable part of this documentary were the dramatic readings by the authors/artists themselves, it really puts you inside their minds.

Really every minute of this documentary is compelling for different reasons. Sometimes funny, sometimes interesting, but never dull.

It starts at the beginning of the format and ends with a young Frank Miller talking about his take on Batman in The Dark Knight.

I can't recommend this more, just a really engaging film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Made, And Owns The Market., August 15, 2013
There is some filler with the pointless animations. I don't mean the relevant animations.

However, what are you going to do when you have Robert Crumb and Frank Miller together in one program.

You will give it five stars.

This movie could have and should have been five times longer.

As to content, there is no need to comment; as everyone in this program is a master communicator.
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Comic Book Confidential
Comic Book Confidential by Ron Mann (DVD - 2002)
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