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Comic Book Confidential

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Director  Ron Mann
7/10 IMDb

Genre  Documentary, History
Language  English
Comic Book Confidential movie poster
Release date  1988 1991 (Laserdisc) 1993 (VHS) 1994 (CD-ROM) 2002 (DVD) 2012 (Blu-Ray)
Writer  Charles Lippincott, Ron Mann
Music director  Dr. John, Keith Elliott, Gerard Leckey, Nicholas Stirling
Screenplay  Ron Mann, Charles Lippincott
Cast  Frank Miller (Himself), Jack Kirby (Himself), Stan Lee (Himself), Will Eisner (Himself), Robert Crumb (Himself)
Similar movies  Related Ron Mann movies

Comic book confidential 2012 movie trailer

This 1988 film delineates the meteoric rise of the comic book art form beginning with its fervently nationalistic characters and stories of the 1930s and 40s, its underground rebellions of the 60s and 70s, and the dark and human stories of the 1980s. The documentary gifts a rare treat to comic book fans by featuring the artists themselves reading from and sharing anecdotes about their work. Director Ron Mann also covers the controversy surrounding censorship by the Comic Code Authority.


Comic Book Confidential movie scenes

Comic Book Confidential is an American/Canadian documentary film, released in 1988. Directed by Ron Mann and written by Mann and Charles Lippincott, the film is a survey of the history of the comic book medium in the United States from the 1930s to the 1980s, as an art form and in social context.

In the 20th century, no artistic medium in North America with so much potential for creative expression has had a more turbulent history plagued with less respect than comic books. Through animated montages, readings and interviews, this film guides us through the history of the medium from the late 1930s and 1940s with the first explosion of popularity with the superheroes created by great talents like Jack Kirby and hitting its first artistic zenith with Will Eisner's "Spirit". It then shifts to the post war comics world with the rising popularity of crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC Comics under the editorshiop of William B. Gaines until it came crashing down the rise of censorship with the imposition of the Comics Code. In its wake of the devastation of the medium's creative freedom, we also explore EC's defiant survival with the creation of the singular "Mad Magazine" by Harvey Kurtzman.


The film includes profiles of twenty-two notable and influential talents in the comics field, such as Charles Burns, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly, Frank Miller, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar and William M. Gaines. In interviews, the creators discuss their contributions and history, and read passages from their works over filmograph animations. Montages of comics through the decades, archival scenes of politically important moments, and a live-action Zippy the Pinhead are featured.


According to Mann, the project started in the mid-1980s when he was working on a press kit of the comedy Legal Eagles. He secretly used resources from that project (including the studios crew, money and film stock) to interview his subjects during his off hours. Due to running time constraints, Mann couldnt include footage with musician Frank Zappa, Scrooge McDuck creator Carl Barks, All American Comics editor Julius "Julie" Schwartz and creator of the first all-woman comic book It Aint Me Babe, Trina Robbins.


Confidential was first released theatrically in Canada in 1988, and in the United States in 1989. It was released unrated. The 1991 laserdisc had extra features consisting of a complete comic by each artist, shot for TV viewing.

Confidential was one of the first films to be released in CD-ROM format for home computer viewing (as a forerunner of the 2002 DVD), with 120 pages of comics and the complete Comics Code. The CD-ROM received positive reviews from USA Today in 1994 and The Complete Idiots Guide to CD-ROM in 1995.


The film received the 1989 Genie Award for Best Feature Length Documentary from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Caryn James of The New York Times found the film deft and intelligent—it "takes off when it abandons the archives and focuses on the creators," but "it plays to the converted," and its attempt to relate comics to social context is "fleeting." Desson Howe, in the Washington Post, wrote that the film was "a pleasure," and engaging throughout. Christopher Null at found the comics themselves the least interesting, and the interviews the "real joy" of the film. Peter Rist described the film in 2001 as "Manns greatest success, both critically and popularly."


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