With the comic book industry now enjoying unprecedented respect, Mann's documentary is a timely if unsatisfying look at four decades of comic history, and interviews 22 leading American creators. It opens promisingly with the patriotic '40s and McCarthyite '50s, when comics were burnt and Senate sub-committees investigated questions of depravity and corruption. It's strong, too, on the underground comix of the '60s, but the scope of the film is too broad, and the little time allotted to each writer and artist is further reduced by the fatuous device of having them read out loud their own texts while panels from their comics are shown on the screen. The filming is for the most part an unimaginative and endless succession of talking heads, with narrative links provided by 'Meanwhile...' - precisely the kind of crass storytelling method modern comics try to avoid. Buffs will no doubt enjoy seeing their heroes, but anyone else will be bored rigid.
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