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The Masters of Comic Book Art
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 from N/A votes
Release: 01 Jan 1987 /

The Masters of Comic Book Art

Genre: Documentary
Director: Ken Viola,
Stars:
Synopsis: Interviews with icons in the comic book world.

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Critic Reviews

This video features profiles of and talks by some of the greatest artists in the world of (primarily) American comics. Harlan Ellison acts as the host, giving an introduction to the work of each artist and their importance. Then, each artist is featured speaking, while images from their work are shown. No interviewer appears on screen and they give summaries of their work and articulate their motivations and feelings about their art. The main fault is a lack of international work, aside from Moebius and Dave Sim. Japanese manga were just making inroads into America and are , thus, neglected.

At the time this feature was created, comic books were undergoing a major revolution in content. The independent market was booming and creators like Frank Miller and Alan Moore were establishing themselves as geniuses. Legendary masters like Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, and Jack Kirby were finding new audiences and producing more mature work. It was a tremendous time that unfortunately came crashing to a halt a few years later. The influx of speculators led to the market becoming crowded with the latest gimmick cover and first issue of a mediocre comic from one of the big companies. The smaller publishers were pushed off the racks and fell into financial disarray. Some, like Dave Sim's Cerebus were able to weather the storm, which ultimately climaxed with Marvel's bankruptcy. We are just now seeing a return of some of the alternative work.

The video is limited by what material could be licensed for the feature, which does not include the Marvel work of Kirby, Ditko, Adams, or Miller. Ditko does not appear on screen; but, rather reads a statement while images from his Mr A comic appear on screen. His devotion to the works of Ayn Rand continue to mar what was once a great body of work.

The video is both entertaining and informative, if now dated. We see Dave Sim before his misogynistic rants damaged his work in Cerebus, and Frank Miller before his dabblings in Hollywood. We see legends Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman a few years before their deaths and we are presented footage of Moebius in one of his few American interviews. It is somewhat lacking in scope, but makes up for it in enthusiasm. It is a perfect encapsulation of the comic world in the 1980's, and the legends who helped bring it about.

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