Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation
In what remains of this chapter, I will analyze Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation (TNG), a short documentary produced for AT&T U-verse Buzz. It seems remarkable to me—and, apparently, to commentators noting its posting on the U-verse website (Steinbeiser 2014; MacDonald 2014; Booth 2014)—as a rare document taking work in comics as its principal subject. As one of the profiled artists, Ramon Perez, relates early on, people are inherently interested in what comic book artists do but do not really see it as work—at least, not without ironizing finger-quotes.
TNG opens with sound bites from Marvel’s Stan Lee and DC’s Jim Lee (no relation) discussing the ideal superhero hideout intercut with shots of the Toronto building that houses the Royal Academy of Illustration & Design studio. Of RAID’s ten members, the documentary focuses on Perez (introduced as the studio’s responsible organizer), Francis Manapul (“the hip rock star”), Marcus To (the studio’s “heart”), and to a lesser extent, Kalman Andrasofszky. The documentary shows the creators at work, follows them to the comic book store and the San Diego Comic- Con, and watches To pitch a creator-owned series to BOOM! Studios (represented by executives Filip Sablik and Stephen Christy).3 I am interested in this documentary not because it was widely viewed or influential but because it explicitly portrays the working life of comics professionals.