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By Mark Bell | November 6, 2008

“Imaginadores” is a documentary focusing on the Argentinian comic book industry from the Golden Age of the ’40-’60s to the magazine compilation days of the ’70s and ’80s to the boom of independent publishing and fanzines in the ’90s. You learn, if nothing else, the names of some influential comics and magazines in the industry’s history and will likely be entertained by the unique visual style the film implements but, unless you are already a scholar of Argentinian comic books, you’ll probably find yourself feeling similar to how I felt as the film rolled along.

Simply, this film could easily be considered among the most frustrating viewing experiences I’ve ever had. I feel like I was given tidbits and chunks of subjective information that I was unable to objectively think about due to an almost total lack of context. In other words, the film is a real “preach to the choir” endeavor, in that if you’re from Argentina and have a personal memory of the comics or magazines mentioned, or even expansive knowledge of Argentinean history, then this expands upon that experience, or at least sheds new light. If you don’t know s**t about Argentinian history, the comics, the artists, then you’re left out of quite a bit.

For example, the first half of the film is full of talking heads telling me how important comics like “Hora Cero,” “El Eternauta” or “Mort Cinder” were, but then not giving me any information about what the comics were about; what their stories were. On top of that, I have no cultural context on why these comics were important other than someone saying “this was important.” And I want to know more, and that’s why it gets to be such a frustrating film to watch.

It’s like if someone decided to do a documentary on Marvel Comics, and you had no knowledge of the company or its comics, and the film presented a bunch of people talking about how influential the X-Men were, but then no one told you anything about the basic story behind the X-Men. You’d be lost. Without context you can only take someone else’s word for it, but you can’t understand it fully. And I WANT to understand.

On a positive note, the film is technically amazing. As it would’ve been a bunch of talking heads otherwise, the film utilizes animation to help illustrate the different artwork, as well as giving an overall comic book panel look to all the interviews. It makes for an engaging visual experience, if emotionally and intellectually lacking.

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