Five Kickstarter-funded comic book documentaries to look out for

Five Kickstarter-funded comic book documentaries to look out for (photo)

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If you need $100 million to make a CGI-heavy action film, the project-funding website Kickstarter should definitely not be the first place you look. However, Kickstarter is becoming a hot spot to hunt down dollars for more modest indie projects, and comics-related documentary pitches in particular are becoming more and more common.

Five such comics documentaries have met their funding needs, and the dollar amounts they’ve been able to raise are impressive. Their topics range from historical investigations into censorship to massive interview compilations looking at what current creators grew up reading and what goes on behind the industry’s closed doors.

“Stripped: The Comics Documentary”

Status: Funded!

Creators Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder set out to make a feature-length documentary about where comics come from and where they are headed. With at least 60 interviews from around the industry, it looks like they’re already off to a great start.

They initially sought $58,000 for “Stripped,” but funding has since eclipsed the $100,000 mark. If their scope and Kickstarter success translate into a story that’s as fascinating as their trailer suggests, Kellett and Schroeder could set a new standard for future producers and directors to look at.

“Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts”

Status: Funded!

If you spend any time at all on the Internet or reading comic books, you should already be at least casually familiar with writer Warren Ellis. The filmmakers, Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert already have one comic-creator doc under their belt with “Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods” (2010), and their ambitious follow-up aims to dissect one of the medium’s most beloved (and foul-mouthed) visionaries.

You may have to keep the little ones away from this film, but it’s sure to be an interesting watch.

“Untold Tales of the Comic Book Industry”

Status: Funded!

Spearheaded by comic book writer Brandon Jerwa, “Untold Tales” lays out a few of the same premises as “Stripped,” but seems to focus more on the rising and falling of the superhero market. The interviews in the trailer capture a behind-the-scenes feel from the periphery of the convention scene, and Jerwa is pooling the insights from publishers, as well as big-name creators such as Erik Larsen and Ben Templesmith.

It’s a documentary being made with love, and we look forward to seeing what emerges from Jerwa’s efforts, especially now that it has eclipsed the $19,000 mark on Kickstarter.

“Diagram for Delinquents”

Status: Funded!

If you thought that video games were the biggest over-blown threat ever to attract government attention, you may need to track down a copy of director Robert A. Emmons, Jr.’s film about the greatest real-life villain ever to attack comic books. “Diagram for Delinquents” looks at the life and work of psychiatrist and Seduction of the Innocent author Fredric Wertham.

Wertham’s efforts triggered book burnings and even congressional hearings that pushed comics publishers into a new era. The trailer has character, and the topics Emmons addresses will be of interest to comics readers from any decade.

“Cartoon College”

Status: Initial goal reached, but have since asked for $6000 more

Have you ever wanted to go to school to become a cartoonist? Filmmakers Tara Wray and Josh Melrod set out to see what goes on in the lives of students at Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies. They traveled around the U.S. and Canada interviewing professors and creators and seeing where students traveled to get their work out into the wild.

Judging from their description, “Cartoon College” may have the best diversity of sources of any of these documentaries. Moreover, they are also analyzing how the nature of the industry impacts the lives of aspiring artists.


Which one of these comic book documentaries makes you want to check it out? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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