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Comic Book: The Movie

It's only appropriate that some copies of Comic Book: The Movie have an accidental variant cover. The official back should have a photo of the main cast, but somehow an undetermined number got out with a picture of Mark Hamill and fans dressed as Batman and Robin. Even better, the picture has been printed in reverse. How do you know this misprint didn't happen on purpose? In the comic book world, it would have been misprinted in gold foil.

Fans eat this sort of thing up, and for all its occasional flaws, they should eat up Hamill's directorial debut, too. Not just for the film, which I reviewed earlier, but for the comprehensive DVD package. At first it may seem odd to load up a direct-to-video release with enough stuff to fill a second disk, but remember that the film's very existence is a love letter to fandom - one attached to a big present.

Because of its unique nature as a mockumentary actually filmed in the midst of its subject, Comic Book: The Movie's extras become a strange blend of fun and respect. Even the commentary is a fan's dream, as the producers are also the stars. (Well, plus Scott Zakarin and Eric Mittleman, both content to let folks like Jess Harnell, Billy West and Roger Rose riff all they like.) It's not just informative; this disk has one of the rare commentaries that is actually entertaining.

As is the documentary featurette, "Four Color Frenzy." Featuring interviews with all the producers, it covers the project from inception to completion, with some funny candor about the problems involved. Oh, and gentle mockery of Mittleman. A word of warning to Joe Public: if you have a distinctive voice, don't co-produce a movie with voice-over actors that have particular skills in mimickry. Some of the stories that they tell, however, may be familiar to those who have managed to attend any of the Creative Light convention panels.

For those who have not attended, one panel shows up disguised as "Behind The Voices," a Q & A with the cream of animation voice-over talent. Essentially taken directly out of the marathon shooting session that provides the climax of the film, it's a chance to really see who's who, and may in itself make this DVD worth buying. I don't say this out of general kow-towing; I say it because I know people that would really, really want to own this segment - mostly, perhaps, Animaniacs fans that might otherwise not realize what a treasure this package holds.

As a further bone to offer them, in the deleted scenes Billy West and Jess Harnell sing their composition "Four Color World," a very cool song that, yes, really didn't fit in the film. It just doesn't make sense that their two characters would bond that far and improvise such a spot-on love song for comic book fans. But as a short video, it will please a lot of fans.

The rest of the deleted scenes are interesting and more often than not amusing. Watch for Fanboy Planet contributor Daniel DeFabio as an absinthe-fueled vision; I can't decide whether DC or Kylie Minogue should be offended by his portrayal.

One deleted segment worth expansion (and the Creative Light team notes this) is an interview with self-publisher Devin T. Quin. Anything written here will just be a poor echo of his rant, but maybe somebody should follow up on Quin's fortunes. He calls himself an embodiment of the American Dream, and he's not wrong, even with a book called Robots R Cool, Zombies R Jerks. (You can order the book by contacting him directly, and no, we don't get a cut.)

The second disk also includes full interviews with actors and artists who ended up making little more than cameo appearances, improvising about their parts in Commander Courage history. Bill Mumy's is particularly fun, though most people will likely gravitate to the Bruce Campbell, Kevin Smith, and Hugh Hefner pieces.

Though the packaging doesn't ever say "collector's edition," it's pretty clear that this is one set for collectors. Those of you who have the bug, you understand. And those who don't just might if they sit down with this.

To buy a copy, go here.

Derek McCaw


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