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July 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Story of Rock 'N' Roll Comics (2012)

Anyone who visited a comic book shop in the 1990s has to remember the slew of independent titles that suddenly showed up. Whether it was Razor or Evil Ernie or anything in between, they changed our view of the comic industry. The little guy could do something on his own, even if the writing or art were sub-par. There was a section of books to the left of the register at our local comic store. That's where the adult themed and just plain odd books ended up. That's the first place I saw Rock 'N' Roll Comics.

The artwork was bad, and the writing was usually worse, and that would be enough to make me leave them on the shelf, but they were about some of my favorite bands. Todd Loren, founder of the fledgling comic book company, didn't care who got mad at him. He was determined to publish his books unauthorized, and as the covers always read, he was proud of it.

It's amazing what a little company can go through in such a short time. Rock 'N' Roll comics only existed for a few short years, but they spent their time being champions of free speech. Loren started out selling bootleg music merchandise, such as t-shirts and buttons. He did this through mail order ads in magazines. He was fairly successful, and he eventually decided to turn his music obsession to comic books. He started putting together unauthorized biographies in comic book form with any writer or artist that would show up. The books were popular, and Loren sold more as he continued to crank out titles.

The movie follows the rise of the company, the many threats of legal action and the eventual lawsuit by the New Kids on the Block. It also gets into the murder of Todd Loren. He was found stabbed to death in his apartment, and although people have some ideas as to what happened, Loren's murder still isn't solved twenty years later. There is a ton to get through here, and it's highly enjoyable. Loren isn't the most likeable guy, but he's interesting. I highly recommend this film. It's one hell of a story.

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