Documentary filmmaker Miguel Cima has a passion for comics and wonders why more people don't. It's a valid, perplexing question considering the variety of genres and formats they come in. Comics are much more ubiquitous in Japan and Europe, so what's preventing them from taking hold the same way in the United States?
Cima explored that some in his 2008 short documentary Dig Comics (Tim O'Shea interviewed Cima about it for Robot 6 at the time). You can watch the entire, 20-minute film, which includes interviews with Jeph Loeb and Scott Shaw, below.
The filmmaker wants to do more than just ask the questions, however: He also wants to help figure out the solution. To that end, launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature-length version of Dig Comics. The $250,000 budget includes filming in New York City, France and Japan to gather more insight into the history of American comics and what makes comics so popular overseas. The feature is just a step in Cima's larger plans, though. If it's successful, he'd also like to develop a television series to continue the campaign to make comics as popular in North America as they are in other places and once were here.
Because the original documentary was made five years ago, it doesn't include discussion of digital comics and their place in making comics more mainstream. I asked Cima about that as well as his vision for an eventual Dig Comics TV show.
On digital comics:
Digital comics are obviously a huge part of the future of comics. Just as e-books have helped growth in the book market, so it must be with comics. When I made the short (2008), digital comics were just getting out there in a big way for the first time. In the feature film, Dig Comics will be delving far more deeply into companies like ComiXology and Graphic.ly as well as how traditional brick and mortar comics shops are playing a role in the distribution of digital comics. I think, also, that there needs to be an exploration about how this affects the medium and whether or not it represents its own medium. We look forward to having such discussions with folks like Scott McCloud. He and others are always about 10 years ahead of these conversations and have been proven right many times.
On the TV show:
The Dig Comics TV show will work more like a travel show than what most people think of as "reality shows." The world of comics has far more to offer than the wonderful images and stories which captivate us so. It's also about the fascinating people behind the work - the creators, the retailers, publishers, and let's not forget the fans. Our vision is to take our cameras around America and around the world to meet these people, see the scenes, explore the history and culture of comics.
A good model would be Anthony Bourdain. His show is about food, but it's about so much more. And his infectious passion is what keeps us watching. I want to follow in that tradition, which is easy, since I am crazy about comics. But there also needs to be an activist angle, so I turn to folks like Michael Moore. We've got to challenge the notions held by fans, the industry and of course, non-fans. I've got plenty of fun experiments, stunts, and pointed questions ready to shake up not only the people and institutions within the comics community, but also on the outside, the folks who ignore comics - and should know better. By being fun, funny, entertaining, and sincere, Dig Comics will capture people's attention and interest.
There is SUCH a wealth to tap from, I can envision multiple seasons of television. Filming in well-known hotbeds of comics culture like New York, Seattle, and Tokyo are obvious. But did you know there are vital scenes in places like Columbus, OH, Argentina, and the Middle East? Comics is a big subject, encompassing history, politics, local traditions, art, and so much more. Limiting myself to a 20-minute short was painful (due to lack of funds, of course). And while a feature will be fun and offer more space, the subject of comics deserves not just Dig Comics, but several shows, just like movies and music get.
(Full disclosure: Robot 6 contributor Corey Blake is a producer on the Dig Comics project.)