Get out your quill pens and drawing tablets, we’re reviewing Stripped!
Stripped documents the history of comic strips, from the early days of newspaper strips to the modern days of webcomics. It includes interviews from classic favorites like Scott Mccolud and Bill Watterson and new cartoonists like Danielle Corsetto and Kris Straub.
Full disclosure: I backed this on kickstarter. Like, um, three years ago? I can’t believe it’s finally out. And hey, it’s pretty much exactly what I wanted!
If you’re at all interested in comics, the history of comics, or how classic and modern comics are made, you will get a kick out of this. It’s really interesting to see how creators got started (and how they almost didn’t), how old newspaper strips used to operate, and how they manage now. It’s crazy to think that there was a time when cartoonists were treated like famous movie stars. Um, can we go back to that? It’s also a treat to see some of the artists work as they ink a page or draw out a character.
And there are so man famous creators! There will surely be someone whose comics you’ve admired over the years. It includes Cathy Guisewite, the creator of Cathy and her incredible origin story; Bill Amend, the creator of Foxtrot; relatives of Charles Schulz; and even Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, who hasn’t had an interview in years. It’s incredible! And if you like comics but don't know where to start, there are a number of modern favorites like Girls with Slingshots creator Danielle Corsetto, and Chainsawsuit Kris Straub, and even the creators of Penny Arcade (briefly) (because eww) (spoiler alert: they’re massive jerks). It is weird to see comics I read today in a professional looking documentary. There are so many creators that the documentary almost feels too short in comparison. I mean there are hundreds of interviews and somehow the movie is only 85 minutes long. I mean, I was privy to a gigantic amount of kickstarter updates, telling me how many hundreds of hours of footage they recorded. I guess people wouldn’t want a twelve hour documentary? I guess?
Speaking of professional-looking, it’s really well put-together. It follows the storyline of newspaper comics up through their boom and crash and then goes into how modern webcomics make money. And it all looks very neat and clean. It’s fun to watch! Some documentaries can be boring or too dramatic, but this hits the sweet spot, balancing fun visuals and lots of information. There’s a whole sequences in the middle explaining how artists make money that shows it in the form of a 90’s videogame, along with classic soundtrack and graphics. It’s fantastic. Now I kind of want to do a double feature of this and Indie Game: The Movie. The soundtrack and score is great and I hope they release it for purchase. There’s even a bonus song/video of the wonderful Kate Miccuci at the end! So maybe I have a crush on Kate Miccuci, what of it? She’s delightful, dammit! DELIGHTFUL!
As a comic artist myself, I may be biased, but I find this film inspiring – so many people who just sit at their little table and draw for days, weeks, and years because they love it enough that they want to make a career out of it. If you’re an artist, especially an illustrator or a comic artist, you owe it to your artistic future to watch this movie. You hear that? YOUR ARTISTIC FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. It’s the kind of movie that will make you get off your ass and draw. Even if you’re not a good artist. Or a good writer. Just get up! Draw! Create, dammit! I may or may not have been inking comics at the time (spoilers: I was). It's a great movie to put on in the background of doing comics.
So, Stripped. I want to talk more about it, but it’s a documentary, and a bit short, so I’m not sure what else to say. It’s a fun, informal, and just plain great documentary. You will get a lot out of it. It’s available on iTunes now and you should definitely check it out.
THE GOOD: Informative, inspirational, tells you history of comics, tons of interview, great production, Kate Miccuci, fun.
THE BAD: Kind of short
THE VERDICT: $$$$ It’s a fantastic documentary. I wish it was longer and went into a little more about the actual making of comics and tips and such, but it’s a great documentary nonetheless, and one you definitely need if you’re any kind of an artist.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Indie the movie, Exit Through the Giftshop
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: There’s one part of creators telling stories about how they almost didn’t make it into the paper and the astronomical odds that they wouldn’t get in. One creator kept getting rejection letters saying that he might get accepted more if he changed his black characters into white characters or animals. Wow newspapers.