To all the readers who are always freaking out whenever I dabble in geek bashing, shut the fuck up for a minute and read on: Now, just because a guy is not necessarily into that particular, you know, lifestyle (I kid — it’s fun only because you take it so seriously), doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate the history behind it. I don’t really care for comic books (and I’ve officially read many of those considered the best, and they just don’t do it for me), but that doesn’t mean I won’t love the big-screen adaptations, nor does it mean I’m not fascinated by the human element behind those stories. My favorite section of Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay, for instance, was the section about the history of comic books. That was insanely compelling. I legitimately like the narratives and the characters, and there’s no other medium that has characters as richly and extensively explored as comic books — I mean, look at Superman. He’s got some 75 years of character development behind him, and countless adventures. Here’s a guy with a back story more developed than Jesus Christ himself. I appreciate and respect that.
I just can’t wrap my head around the medium. It’s like a right brain / left brain thing. The combination of pictures (no matter how well illustrated) and text bubbles just don’t sink in for me. I’ve tried; I can’t make it work. I think comic books are something you need to pick up early on in life — if you read comics in your formative years, your brain learns how to properly comprehend the medium. When I finally tried, I came to it too late; it wouldn’t register for me. I could understand the appeal, it was just lost on me. Like hockey. Or soccer. Or Megan Fox. I actually wish that the work of Frank Miller or Mark Millar or Brian K. Vaughan were also available in a straight narrative format for laymen like me, because they’re missing a whole universe of people who like the narratives, they just don’t like the format.
The point, here, is that Jeffrey Blitz — the director behind the outstanding documentary Spellbound, and the brilliant and too-often-discussed around here coming-of-age narrative, Rocket Science — is executive producing a documentary on the history of DC Comics. According to Collider, filming began last week, and Spellbound’s camera man, Mac Carter, is directing. What’s more is that they’re doing it with the blessing and support of DC Comics, which could be a good thing (access) or a bad thing (having to submit to DC’s control over the project). My guess is that the good will outweigh the bad, and that the DC Comics doc will be as engrossing as Blitz managed to make a spelling bee.
This is a project I can get behind, and one that I can earnestly look forward to (and it’s expected to debut at this year’s Comic Con), particularly if it’s akin to a documentary version of the history section of Kavalier and Clay. I’m legitimately interested in the history and the personalities behind DC, and the stories that led them to create all of these iconic super heroes, like Superman and Batman. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a huge part of pop-culture history, and after decades of being on the fringes, comic books are now a huge part of the movie industry. And although DC Comics, itself, is now a hugely successful company, there’s a certain underdog appeal to the medium that might play well in a documentary.