Documentary reminds fans to ‘Dig Comics,’ not just superhero movies

Sept. 25, 2009 | 10:17 p.m.

Dig_comics

SATURDAY: FREE SCREENING OF “DIG COMICS” AT MELTDOWN

It seems comic book heroes are bigger than ever.

In 2007, “Spider-Man 3” topped the charts with a $891 million in worldwide box office. The following year “The Dark Knight” grossed more than $1 billion while “Iron Man” rang up $585 million.

But while heroes are flying high in theaters, comic book publishing is on the verge of being a mere footnote to the cinematic franchises it spawned.

That is deeply alarming to Miguel Cima, who wants to preserve the lore of the truly American pop-culture phenomena — and he has the help of someone who knows about endangered species, namely actor Edward James Olmos, who led the ragtag fleet of human survivors in the critically acclaimed series “Battlestar Galatica” and, back in 1982, was a key cast member in “Blade Runner,” regarded by some as simply the best sci-fi film ever.

Cima’s documentary “Dig Comics” will screen this Saturday at the Los Angeles landmark store Meltdown Comics [7522 Sunset Boulevard, 323-851-7223] and it cautions that comic book lore and legacy is in jeopardy.  Through various interviews with comic industry vets — such as Jeph Loeb, Scott Shaw and Dame Darcy – personal pleas and assorted examples of the comic as art, Cima challenges viewers to see the importance of comics.

“It’s the most vibrant art form that exists in America today and yet nobody engages in it,” said Cima, who took a closer look at the state of the industry after trying to publish his own comic. “At the same time, there’s monetization of properties like X-Men and Batman; they’re making millions of dollars. But no one is going back to the source. People only know comics from the movies. It’s sad.“

The film won best documentary at the Comic-Con International: Independent Film Festival and has been selected for screenings at the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Tucson Film and Music Festival and the Royal Flush Film Festival in New York City. It recently screened at the Downtown Film Festival: Los Angeles.

And it’s garnered the attention of Olmos’ company, Olmos Productions, which has agreed to produce a full-length version of the documentary.

“I had no idea the comic industry had been so badly beaten up until I saw the documentary,” said Olmos, who will also appear in the upcoming masked-man film “The Green Hornet.” “It’s a crucial art form that goes beyond comic books. We use it in the film industry all the time with storyboarding. It’s a fantastic art form and a great way to increase literacy among kids.”

Olmos will make a special appearance for the Saturday screening. He’ll take part in a post-screening Q&A with Cima, along with members of the cast and crew. 

– Yvonne Villarreal

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