As early as last January AFC was anticipating the arrival of the touring exhibition Masters of American Comics at The Jewish Museum. Given the reputation comic book geeks have for being insanely obsessive, I doubt there is any way I can spin my interest into connoisseurship, but I can say that when I heard Ron Mann, the director of the seminal documentary Comic Book Confidential, was going to be speaking after a screening of his film, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. Even for those with a passing interest in comics, this talk was a must see. The clip below from The Reeler contains a few choice quotes from filmmaker but as always, follow the link to his site, to read my full report.
“There was a history of underground comic books, and there was a history of mainstream comic books — but they didn’t merge together,” said Mann, who thanked the well-known writer and artist Lynda Barry for helping him understand that the scene was larger than any book or movie had recognized at the time. But the self-described cultural historian likely would have arrived at this conclusion with or without Barry’s input: his filming methods can only be described as obsessive. He recalled interviewing virtually anyone who had even a nominal interest in the medium, acknowledging in disbelief to the crowd 20 years after the fact, “I interviewed Frank Zappa for this movie!” (Inexplicably, footage of the musician never made it into the film, and Mann rattled off about a half-dozen more artists he had spoken to who wound up as casualties of the running time — among them being Scrooge McDuck creator Carl Barks, All American Comics editor Julie Schwartz and the legendary creator of the first all-woman comic book It Ain’t Me Babe, Trina Robbins.)