Gravitas Ventures has debuted a new full-length trailer for Dear Mr. Watterson, the Kickstarter-funded documentary that explores the influence of cartoonist Bill Watterson and his beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.
It’s a six-year passion project by director Joel Allen Schroeder, who raised $25,000 in 2010 so he, producers Christopher Browne and Matt McUsic, and cinematographer Andrew P. Waruszewski could interview a slew of cartoonists, editors and fans, and then another $96,772 in 2012. Dear Mr. Watterson, which had its festival premiere in April at the Cleveland International Fan Festival, will debut Nov. 15 in theaters and On Demand.
NPR television critic Linda Holmes has spent the past couple of weeks tweeting from the Television Critics Association press tour, which ended with a panel on the PBS documentary Superheroes: The Never-Ending Battle. Debuting Oct. 8, the three-part miniseries was directed by Michael Kantor, who was on the panel with comic book writers Todd McFarlane, Len Wein and Gerry Conway.
Holmes noted that the panelists asked about the lack of diversity in superhero comics, but unfortunately, the response to that question wasn’t very satisfying. She paraphrases four reasons cited by the panel:
Documentary filmmaker Miguel Cima has a passion for comics and wonders why more people don’t. It’s a valid, perplexing question considering the variety of genres and formats they come in. Comics are much more ubiquitous in Japan and Europe, so what’s preventing them from taking hold the same way in the United States?
Cima explored that some in his 2008 short documentary Dig Comics (Tim O’Shea interviewed Cima about it for Robot 6 at the time). You can watch the entire, 20-minute film, which includes interviews with Jeph Loeb and Scott Shaw, below.
The filmmaker wants to do more than just ask the questions, however: He also wants to help figure out the solution. To that end, launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature-length version of Dig Comics. The $250,000 budget includes filming in New York City, France and Japan to gather more insight into the history of American comics and what makes comics so popular overseas. The feature is just a step in Cima’s larger plans, though. If it’s successful, he’d also like to develop a television series to continue the campaign to make comics as popular in North America as they are in other places and once were here.
Sequart Research & Literacy Organization and Respect! Films, the folks behind the documentaries Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, are next turning their camera on bestselling author and comics writer Neil Gaiman.
Directed by Patrick Meaney, the documentary is described as “an all-access look at the scribe’s illustrious, media-spanning career, from his first foray into published writing all the way up to the current signing tour for his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” It will include footage from Gaiman’s lectures and readings, as well as from his performances with Amanda Palmer, and interviews with his fans, contemporaries and collaborators.
More details are expected to be revealed over the summer, with the documentary premiering in 2015. In the meantime you can check out the teaser trailer below.
There are two remarkable things about Dave Kellett’s Kickstarter for his documentary Stripped. The first is that the pitch video includes a snippet of what Kellett claims is the first-ever audio interview with reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. That alone is going to make this film a must-see for a lot of people.
The second is that this is a Kickstarter for a project that’s already fully funded. What Kellett is looking for with this second campaign is access to more licensed footage:
San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Chicago may be better known as comics towns, but Boston has a thriving indie comics community, and now the city has a documentary about it as well. In this 11-minute film, The Amazing and Fantastical Boston Comics Creators, director Frank Duran talks to an array of local talent, including Jesse Lonergan, Jerel Dye, John Hilliard and Ming Doyle. It’s well worth a look both to see the amazing art some of these creators are producing and to hear them talk about their process as well as the importance of the Boston Comics Roundtable in bringing them together and nurturing their work.
Apple.com has premiered the first trailer for Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, the film by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) examining the cultural phenomenon that is Comic-Con International by following the lives of five attendees.
As you can see from the cosplay-heavy trailer below, the documentary also boasts plenty of familiar faces, including Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Eli Roth and Stan Lee (who, along with Joss Whedon, is one of the executive producers.
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope opens April 6.
A full-length trailer has been released for Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, a Kickstarter-funded documentary that will receive its world premiere next month at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, the documentary traces the evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman and examines “how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.” Among those interviewed for the film are Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, Trina Robbins, George Perez, Gail Simone, Danny Fingeroth and Andy Mangels.
Thanks to our friends at The Forbidden Planet blog for pointing us to this trailer for filmmaker Philip Rashleigh’s documentary about Guy Delisle. Here’s the blurb:
Captured over the course of a 1 year period in the south of France, the film follows the gradual realization of Guy’s latest travelogue ‘Jerusalem Chronicles’ and includes an in-depth look at Shenzhen, Pyongyang, Burma Chronicles aswell as an intriguing insight into the rise of the independent graphic novel. Equally explored are Guy’s beginnings in animation, his studio, his inspiration, his career thus far and the travelogues that never saw print: Vietnam and Ethiopia.
The film is in French, but it’s subtitled, and it looks like a nice combo of watching the artist at work and hearing what he has to say about comics in general and his comics in particular.
Joann Sfar Draws From Memory, director Sam Ball’s documentary portrait of the French comics artist and filmmaker (Dungeon, The Rabbi’s Cat, Little Vampire) will receive its world-premiere screening at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in New York City.
The film follows Sfar to his favorite neighborhood spots and muses about his artistic process and the influence of his Algerian and Eastern European heritage. Tickets are still available for the screening, which also includes the U.S. premiere of The Silent Historian and a Q&A with Ball and executive producer Valerie Joseph.
Artist Ben Towle, whose credits include Midnight Sun and Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean, is the subject of Folktales and Airships, a documentary by Peter Salomone, a filmmaker who is working toward an MFA in filmmaking at Wake Forest University. Towle confessed to having some misgivings about the project:
One of my big personal pet peeves with comics documentaries is how the actual comics artwork is filmed and shown on-screen. Filmmakers (because they’re used to moving images I assume) have a tendency to want to make the comics images move and this often works out really really badly. It also seems to me to imply that the original static comics images are somehow deficient and need to be “augmented” for use in film. A particularly egregious example of this is Tintin and Me, in which Hergé’s artwork is separated into foreground and background elements and then subjected to some sort of half-assed animation effect. On the other hand, I can certainly see some reasoning behind not wanting just a static image on-screen for long periods. There are a lot of ways to handle this problem in film, and I had some trepidations for sure about how it would be dealt with with my artwork.
Nonetheless, he was happy with the way Folktales and Airships turned out. It’s only 9 minutes long, but the film has a nice mix of Towle’s art and interviews with the artist himself.
The Kickstarter campaign to fund the documentary Diagram for Delinquents, the story of anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham, has hit its goal of $6,000, so the film will definitely be made. Now it’s just a matter of making it better: The creators are continuing to accept donations, which will be used to buy equipment, presumably to make the film more professional. A $50 donation gets your name into the credits (and on IMDB!) and for $70 or more, they will draw you into one of the animated sequences.
Produced by Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, the short film will put Wertham’s comics commentary into the context of his life’s work, which included fighting segregation and working with juvenile delinquents (which may have led to his erroneous conclusion that comics make good kids go bad—the problem is that he never got to see the good kids). Robert A. Emmons, Jr., will direct. Regardless of whether or not they get that extra handheld, it sounds like it’s going to be a good flick.
Specifically, he wants to raise funds to complete interviews with Hugh Hefner, Daniel Clowes, William Stout and Joe Dante about the man whose artistic “technique became the defining look of the early MAD and, subsequently, the visual style that defined a generation.” Like other Kickstarter efforts, he’s offering a range of prizes depending on how much you donate, from copies of the complete film on DVD to a credit in the film for high-dollar donations.
In addition to those named abovem the documentary will feature interviews with Maus/Raw creator Art Spiegelman, underground cartoonists Bill Griffith and Jay Lynch, actor and comedian Andy Kindler, MAD fold-in creator Al Jaffee, cartoonist Arnold Roth, artist Drew Friedman, MAD editor Nick Meglin and the late Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Gaines and Will Elder himself. If you’re interested in seeing this come to life, go check it out.
“Oh god,” Ellis wrote this morning on his blog. “The trailer made it to YouTube, and people are taunting me with it. Let’s get this over with. I have, at best, a face for radio. Unfortunately, I don’t have a voice for radio. This is horrifying and I don’t want to look.”
The documentary is scheduled for completion next year.
Now here’s a comics-to-film project I didn’t see coming. Minicomics master John Porcellino of King-Cat fame has revealed he’s the subject of an upcoming documentary by filmmaker Daniel Stafford, owner of Denver’s Kilgore Used Books and Comics. The doc is tentatively titled Root Hog or Root Hog or Die: Ballad of the King Cat.
Stafford’s started a blog to chronicle the process and post clips. So far he’s interviewed such comics luminaries as Joe Chiappetra, Jeffrey Brown, Ivan Brunetti and Zak Sally for the project, and he’s looking for fan-shot footage and photos. King-Cat fans, that’s your chance to be a part of film history!