Review: Morgan Spurlock’s Love Letter to San Diego Comic-Con

Word has spread about Morgan Spurlock‘s new documentary spotlighting Comic-Con, and much of it has been positive. For me, it did live up to the hype. Entitled Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, this eighty-eight minute long documentary shined a respectable light on the annual celebration of comic books, media, and pop culture, otherwise better known as San Diego Comic-Con and the flocks of fans who makes the once a year pilgrimage to the Southern California convention.

What began in 1970 with an estimated gathering of five-hundred comic book aficionados has exploded into a week long behemoth of a festival that encompasses not only comic books, but other media which draws in about 150,000 people. The documentary makes a very good point in the difference of the Comic-Con of yesteryear and the Comic-Con of today, in which of recent years the comics in Comic-Con has now seem to have taken a back seat to blockbuster Hollywood movies, TV series, and video games, which has taken over much of the San Diego Convention Center.

Spurlock makes an interesting choice in this documentary in which instead of stepping in front of the camera himself, he follows five fans each with a different purpose and goal at the annual comic book convention. The characters in this colorful cast are Skip Harvey and Eric Hanson, artists who are hoping to break into the comic industry. Chuck Rozanski, the owner of Denver’s Mile High Comics is looking for a large payday at the show, especially with a very rare copy of Red Raven #1 from Marvel worth about $500,000. Next up is Holly Conrad, a costume designer with her group of friends looking to bring home the prize at the yearly costume masquerade with amazing Mass Effect costumes. And last but not least is James Darling, a fan who met his girlfriend Se Young Kang at the convention in 2009 and now hopes to propose to her in front of thousands of attendees. Peppered in between the ‘main storyline’ are appearances from industry professionals such as comic book legends Stan Lee and Frank Miller, writer/directors such as Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith, and actors including Seth Rogen and Olivia Wilde. Interwoven between the story these scenes act much like a DVD’s directors commentary which has a bit of spice and flavor to the film.

As a long time attendee of San Diego Comic-Con and numerous other conventions I applaud Spurlock’s work on this documentary. And imagine my surprise when I even saw myself running about in the background here and there (green and brass Mandalorian merc). A point which was repeatedly made over and over again was that for many returning to Comic-Con year in and year out was like coming home again after a long trip over seas. “It’s like having a country of your own,” said one fan and it is. The conversations one fan would have with another could very much be a language in itself (and in the case of Klingon or Na’vi it is).

Comic-Con returns to downtown San Diego once again in July and attendance will most likely sky rocket. Fans will likely be hungry for information on Peter Jackson‘s return to Middle Earth in his two part epic “The Hobbit”, the 3-D versions of the “Star Wars” movies, what’s new on the horizon for Marvel or DC, and a whole slew of other big industry news. But until then tide yourself over with Spurlock’s Comic-Con documentary which is currently out in select theaters.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iyg5gB3nT8[/youtube]

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Michael Pao
Michael Pao 224 posts

Michael Pao is a photographer and writer who loves pretty much anything geek/nerd culture. <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the rest of the Nerd Reactor Team.</a>