Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Favorite Comic Book Documentaries

April 24, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Necessary Evil Super-Villains of DC Comics

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! The War of the Realms #2, Batman #69, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we discussed our Favorite Superhero Offspring. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Mr.Greed: “Damien is a fucking pain in the ass. I hate that obnoxious brat. He never learns, is disrespectful to everyone (including his own father) and his ego is out of control. He needs a serious slap across the face!”

Sting Rey: “may parker-spider girl”

Wrestlinggod: “Cable, quicksilver , Scarlett witch, Nate grey, Rachel Summers , aqualad, Jericho

Never liked Franklin or draken”

Prez Gar: “I would go with Wild Thing, who like Spider-Girl was from the MC2 timeline. She had double super-hero parentage, being the daughter of Wolverine and Elektra. She didn’t have claws like her dad, but psionic sai on each fist. Too bad she didn’t last like May Day Parker did.”

Carl Rood: “Lian Harper, Jai & Iris West.”

Carl Rood: “You clearly don’t know much about Infinity Inc. at all:

Jade & Obsidian were the children of the Golden Age GREEN LANTERN, not Flash
Nuklon was the GODson of the Golden Age Atom, not his son.”

Tony Higgins: “For me I choose Skaar. Mostly because I love Planet Hulk/WWH so much.”

armchair theologian: “Polaris for me.”

To read last week’s column go HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss our…

Favorite Comic Book Documentaries

Looks like Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo are in the process of putting together a documentary about comic book icon Stan Lee.

Lee passed away at the end of 2018 having filmed one final cameo for Avengers: Endgame but according to Anthony Russo, the pair’s involvement with Lee won’t end there.

“We love Stan Lee and I think it’s incredibly special that Endgame will be his final cameo. We are fascinated by the life of Stan Lee and we are actually developing a little something that has to do with his work in the history of Marvel,” Anthony Russo told PinkVilla. “But we are not ready to present it or talk about it yet. It’s more of a documentary.”

I’ve been into comic book documentaries for a while and for an many as I’ve seen, I’m surprised at just how many are out there that I haven’t seen.

Not too long ago I finally caught up with one that I should have seen when it first came out. Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics on AMC is a treat and Kirkman’s love for the industry is clear in every episode.

Another one that was recommended to me that I was shocked to realize I hadn’t heard of is 1988’s Comic Book Confidential that covers the beginnings of comics as an art form through the 80s. Wonderfully produced and talks with real legends of the game. A worthy addition to any list.

One that you can catch on YouTube is The History of Image Comics (So Much Damage) from SYFY Wire. I enjoyed it even though it was very broad in terms of what transpired in the storied publishers history. I’d love to see an Image documentary that really looked at some of the details of its origins and the drama of the early days, especially with Mr. Robert Liefeld.

One of my all time personal favorites is Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist. The 2010 film is a complete encompassing of the life of this master storyteller. This award-winning full-length feature documentary tells the story of one of the most influential creators in comics. While watching it you will be blown away by just how much Eisner did to impact the industry. If I had to pick just one documentary to watch, this would be the one.

A very close second is In Search Of Steve Ditko. The man behind the original art of Spider-Man, Ditko is a complete mystery of a man. This documentary attempts to unravel that aura and is a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Back in 2014 She Makes Comics came out and took the viewer on a journey through the history of the female comic book creator. Director Marisa Stotter shares an eye-opening documentary through the 1900s with input from a number of legendary creators, editors, and publishers. It’s become even more timely with the current state of the industry today.

Do you know who Bill Finger is? You will after watching Batman & Bill, a Hulu documentary that puts the spotlight on the exclusion of the late Bill Finger as co-creator of Batman. Yes, while Bob Kane is the name you think of most when it comes to the creation of the Dark Knight, it was Finger who designed Batman and his world. This one will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

Two that I’ve been told over and over that I need to see is Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and The Mindscape of Alan Moore. I’ve seen trailers and clips, and they are on my list to see in the very near future.

While not mentioned as much as the others, R. Crumb is the King of the underground comic scene and Crumb sets out to show you why. Inspirational yet depressing, this is an unflinching look at a brilliant man.

The Image Revolution is a fun look at Image and goes deeper than the SYFY one, I still feel more could be mined from one of the craziest periods in comic book history. Still, it takes me back to the days when I got most of my behind-the-scenes news from Wizard Magazine and that usually left me with more questions than answers.

Another one that I’ve not seen, but need to asap, is Comic Books Unbound. This comes highly recommended as one of the better ones about the history of comics. With interviews with Guillermo Del Toro, Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Ron Perlman, Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, Jim Steranko and a host of others, this looks like a fun ride.

If you haven’t seen it, put Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics on your list, as it covers both the baddies and the people behind them. One that I’ve seen but don’t remember well is Superheroes Decoded and plan on watching it again soon.

One that I have seen that covers the industry well is Comix: Beyond the Comic Book Pages. It gives the focus to the legends like Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, Mark Waid, Marc Silvestri, John Romita Jr., Steve Niles, and others. It also covers more than just Marvel and DC.

What about you? Is Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle on your list? Which comic book documentary do you recommend?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!