Perhaps the most overused word when describing fans is “passionate”, but that is the best way to describe all those who attend the behemoth convention that is Comic-Con.
Morgan Spurlock has taken on the task of telling the story of Comic-Con 2010 in the documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope–not an easy feat due to the plethora of characters that attend this convention. Comic-Con is a unique experience for everyone who attends, but Spurlock chooses to zero in on a few specific characters: The Geek, The Designer, The Soldier, The Survivor, The Collector and The Lovers. The film takes these characters from Comic-Con prep time in their hometowns to Comic-Con go time on the convention floor and anyone who has attended can find a piece of their experience in these characters.
The Geek, is a bartender from Missouri, whose parents met at the first Star Trek Convention in Kansas City, his geek-ness apparently passed down in his DNA. He is passionate about drawing comics and attends because he sees this as the ultimate job fair. We follow him and his portfolio through the masses and see him pitch his wares to Dark Horse and others.
The Designer is a talented, determined girl who makes elaborate costumes in San Bernardino, which she describes as “the place where people stop to go to the bathroom before they go skiing.” Her passion is costume design and she longs to be noticed by the illusive industry for her stellar skills. She sees the Con as the platform to make or break her and invests all she has in a “Suicide Mission” to win the Comic-Con Masquerade.
The Survivor, owner of Mile High Comics in Denver, is one of the most intriguing characters, because from his interviews, we see the evolution of Comic-Con from the 1970s to present. We meet him in his gigantic warehouse from which he distributes over 8 million comic books. In the warehouse he unlocks a safe and delicately removes “Red Raven #1” which he intends to sell at the Con for $500,000. He also packs up a store’s worth of inventory, as he has for the past 38 years, and sells comics on the convention floor. He admits times are more difficult for comic book dealers at the Con, because electronic arts are such a draw for fans these days. He goes on to say that although the word “comic” is in the name of the convention, very little is truly about comics anymore.
The Collector is a man passionate about his toys. We meet him in his “Room of Doom” with wall-to-wall toys. His Holy Grail at the Con will be to purchase the 18-inch Galactus. He will stand in line for two days and navigate through the gauntlet of people in hopes of buying this illusive toy before they sell out.
The Soldier from Minot, North Dakota is in the military and is passionate about drawing. He leaves his small town to the hustle and bustle of the Con with his portfolio in hand and tries to get the attention of a publisher he can draw for.
The Lovers, who met at Comic-Con the year before, plan to take their relationship to the next level in front of Kevin Smith and the thousands at his sold out panel in Hall H.
There are many brief interviews with Robert Kirkman, Eli Roth, Corey Feldman, Guillermo Del Toro, Harry Knowles, Todd MacFarlane, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon and even Trashwire fave Gerard Way to name a few and, of course, we get some added insight from the Comic Con guru himself, Stan Lee.
Through all these characters and interviews we get a taste of all things Comic-Con, but not a full meal although we get a good understanding of the level of fan camaraderie, the uniqueness of those in attendance, how the entertainment industry will tap into it, and of course, the passion of fanboys and fangirls who make the Con what it is.
If you’ve ever been to Comic-Con you will see this movie more than once, like a professionally produced home movie, just to pick out some of the people and the things you saw when you attended. If you have never been to Comic-Con, you might not fully understand the magical and all-encompassing world Spurlock is presenting here, but the doc should intrigue you enough to want to attend.
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is playing in select cities and is also available On-Demand.