The 10 Best Comic Book Documentaries
This year’s San Diego Comic-Con has reinvented itself as [email protected] due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest annual events in entertainment is streaming its panels/programs and making an Online Exhibit Hall available on Comic-Con’s website. The show must go on. The root of SDCC’s popularity is well, comic books—the most ubiquitous source material in contemporary television and film.
A lot of work goes into putting a script onscreen. It takes a comparable amount of work to publish a comic book. The process requires writers, artists, marketers, and a bunch of other people. And there’s always a story behind the making of those stories. In honor of this week’s [email protected], we’re looking at 10 of the best comic book documentaries (in no particular order) to better help you understand the biggest names/titles in entertainment.
Comic Book Confidential (1988)
This older documentary outlines the history of comic books as an art form. It looks at the medium’s rise with nationalistic characters in the 30s and 40s, the underground rebellions of the 60s, the dark stories of the 80s, and censorship by the Comic Code Authority. The film features icons like Frank Miller, Stan Lee, Robert Crumb, and Harvey Pekar as they share anecdotes and read from their work.
Batman & Bill (2017)
Don Argott’s and Sheena M. Joyce’s Hulu documentary, Batman & Bill, dissects the caped crusader’s creation. While Bob Kane is widely known as the sole creator of Batman, Bill Finger contributed to the character’s costume, villains, and origin story. Finger was never credited for his contributions to the Dark Knight’s mythos; however, after his death, fans rallied behind the ghostwriter’s legacy, helping him to finally receive the recognition he deserved.
Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD (2014)
This documentary covers the history of the British science fiction comic, 2000 AD; from its beginnings in 1977 and its influence on the industry with outings like Judge Dredd to present day.
The Mindscape of Alan Moore (2003)
The eclectic Alan Moore is considered by many to be one of the greatest comic book writers of all-time. His work includes Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, and Batman: The Killing Joker. In The Mindscape of Alan Moore, the author discusses his life, inspirations, philosophies, and work. A must-watch for fans of the medium.
Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb is about the life of his friend, underground cartoonist Robert Crumb (Fritz the Cat). The documentary explores things like Crumb’s complicated personality and opposition to the underground rebellion of the 60s that celebrated his work.
In Search of Steve Ditko (2007)
Stephen J. Ditko was the artist, writer, and co-creator (beside Stan Lee) of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange. This BBC Four documentary features interviews with the likes of Lee, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Cat Yronwode, Ralph Macchio, Jerry Robinson, Mark Millar as Jonathan Ross attempts to track down Ditko.
She Makes Comics (2014)
She Makes Comics explores the contributions women have made to the comic book industry since is early days in the 30s and 40s. It tells the stories of overlooked women artists and writers like Ramona Fradon and Marie Severin who worked for DC and Marvel Comics, respectively as well as the rise of women in prominent positions in recent years.
The Cartoonist (2009)
The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, Bone and the Changing Face of Comics follows the life of the Bone comic series, Jeff Smith. His aforementioned series is hailed by many publications as one of the greatest graphic novels of all-time. This documentary interviews other cartoonists such as Scott McCloud, Colleen Doran, Harvey Pekar, Paul Pope, and Terry Moore to provide a look at both the evolution of Smith’s iconic work and the industry as a whole.
The Image Revolution (2016)
In 1992, Marvel Comics was the number-one publisher of comic books in the world, largely due to its dynamic artwork. But as a response to what was believed to be years of mistreatment toward creative talent by the industry’s leading publishers, a small – but influential – group of artists left Marvel Comics at the height of its popularity to form their own company, Image Comics.
Tales From The Crypt: From Comic Books to Television (2004)
Tales From The Crypt: From Comic Books to Television looks at the analyzes the rise and fall of Entertainment Comics (EC) and mainstream horror in the 40s and 50s, in particular, EC Comics’ most notable series, Tales from the Crypt.