review by Nalini Haynes
Morgan Spurlock’s latest, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, looks at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010, interviewing Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, Ellen Page, Felicia Day and LOTS of comic book icons. Hope explores Comic-Con by following the lives of five attendees as they descend upon the ultimate geek mecca at San Diego Comic-Con 2010.
After explaining what Comic-Con is, the viewer is introduced to two aspiring comic book artists and a costumer who are off to Comic-Con in the hope of making their careers while a comic book sales guy is trying to save his business by selling enough comics to make ends meet. We also follow a guy who intends to ask his girlfriend to marry him during the Kevin Smith panel.
The ‘reality documentary’ style footage is intercut with snippets of interviews with various people including Stan Lee, Grant Morrison and other A-list comic book people as well as a number of ‘regular people’, both in and out of costume. The extras include 3 pages of longer (but still short) interviews with the A-listers talking about comic-con or their careers in comic books.
The only ‘dark side’ of Comic-Con shown is that comics are no longer central. Hollywood has ‘bought up’ Comic-Con, George Lucas has taken over the loading docks so the comic book people have been ousted. The movie, gaming and merchandise areas of Comic-Con are busy but the comic book sales area is relatively quiet. Independent comic book artists can no longer afford to attend Comic-Con. This is balanced with the enthusiasm of geeks for the expansion of Comic-Con to encompass diverse geekery.
Unlike previous documentaries, Morgan Spurlock himself does not appear at all.
As someone who’s never been to Comic-Con but who’s heard a lot about it, I found this documentary interesting. It had a feel of ‘hype’, having set its mind to being ‘pro-Comic-Con’, never looking at the more controversial aspects of the event, and yet to some extent it explored the scene, comic book culture and the changing Comic-Con culture. I suspect comic book aficionados will scorn the documentary main feature but will NEED it for the extras, the interviews with the A-list comic book guys. The portfolio reviews of the aspiring comic book artists, both in the documentary and in the extras, may be helpful to other artists.