Comic Book Confidential

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Comic Book Confidential
Comic Book Confidential.jpg
Movie poster
Directed byRon Mann
Produced byDon Haig
Martin Harbury
Charles Lippincott
Written byRon Mann
Charles Lippincott
StarringWill Eisner
Robert Crumb
William M. Gaines
Jack Kirby
Stan Lee
Frank Miller
Music byDr. John
Keith Elliott
Gerard Leckey
CinematographyJoan Churchill
Robert Fresco
Edited byRobert Kennedy
Sphinx Productions
Distributed byCinecom Pictures
Release date
  • September 10, 1988 (1988-09-10)
Running time
90 minutes
CountriesUnited States

Comic Book Confidential is an American/Canadian documentary film, released in 1988. Directed by Ron Mann and written by Mann and Charles Lippincott, the film is a survey of the history of the comic book medium in the United States from the 1930s to the 1980s, as an art form and in social context.


The film includes profiles of twenty-two notable and influential talents in the comics field, such as Charles Burns, Art Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, Frank Miller, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar and William M. Gaines. In interviews, the creators discuss their contributions and history, and read passages from their works over filmograph animations.[1] Montages of comics through the decades, archival footage of an old 1950s show called Confidential File, and a live-action Zippy the Pinhead are featured.


According to Mann, the project started in the mid-1980s when he was working on a press kit of the comedy Legal Eagles. He secretly used resources from that project (including the studio's crew, money and film stock) to interview his subjects during his off hours. Due to running time constraints, Mann couldn't include footage with musician Frank Zappa, Scrooge McDuck creator Carl Barks, All American Comics editor Julius "Julie" Schwartz, and editor of the first all-woman comic book It Ain't Me Babe, Trina Robbins.[2]


Confidential was first released theatrically in Canada in 1988, and in the United States on April 27, 1989.[3] It was released unrated.[4] The 1991 laserdisc had extra features consisting of a complete comic by each artist, shot for TV viewing.[5]

It was one of the first films to be released in CD-ROM format for home computer viewing [6] (as a forerunner of the 2002 DVD), with 120 pages of comics and the complete Comics Code. The CD-ROM received positive reviews from USA Today in 1994 and The Complete Idiots Guide to CD-ROM in 1995.[7][8][9]


The film received the 1989 Genie Award for Best Feature Length Documentary from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.[10] Caryn James of The New York Times found the film deft and intelligent—it "takes off when it abandons the archives and focuses on the creators," but "it plays to the converted," and its attempt to relate comics to social context is "fleeting."[4] Desson Howe, in the Washington Post, wrote that the film was "a pleasure," and engaging throughout.[1] Christopher Null at found the comics themselves the least interesting, and the interviews the "real joy" of the film.[11] Peter Rist described the film in 2001 as "Mann's greatest success, both critically and popularly."[12]


  1. ^ a b Howe, Desson (August 18, 1989)."Comic Book Confidential". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ Johnson, Paddy (October 25, 2006). "The Return of Comic Book Confidential (interview)" Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. The Reeler.
  3. ^ "Comic Book Confidential Trailer (1989)". Trailer Addict. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  4. ^ a b James, Caryn (June 14, 1989). "Review/Film; Comic Books as Sociology and Popular Art". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Comic Book Confidential.; Laserdisc Database.
  6. ^ Comic Book Confidential CD-ROM-Internet Archive
  7. ^ Landis, David (April 13, 1994). A CD-ROM trip to comic book archives. USA Today, p. 10D.
  8. ^ Pivovarnick, John (1995). The Complete Idiots Guide to CD-ROM. Que Publishing, p. 240.
  9. ^ "Comic Book Confidential (CD-ROM)" Archived 2011-02-09 at the Wayback Machine. Official page. Sphinx Productions.
  10. ^ Comic Book Confidential award listing. Canadian Awards Database; Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, 1989.
  11. ^ Null, Christopher (July 14, 2002). "Comic Book Confidential (DVD)".; American Movie Channel.
  12. ^ Rist, Peter (2001) Guide to the Cinema(s) of Canada. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., p. 137. ISBN 978-0-313-29931-5.

External links[edit]