The comics were “unauthorized and proud of it” biographies of famous bands, from KISS to New Kids on the Block, all printed by Todd Loren. They had their followers (Alice Cooper, Mojo Nixon, Cynthia Plaster Caster) and their detractors, resulting in plenty of legal issues (no pun intended). Was Loren, the film asks, a First Amendment advocate or a “lying sack of shit”? Or both?
I say “was,” because the guy was stabbed to death in his apartment in 1992.
"Had he not been murdered,” his father, Herb Shapiro, tells the camera, “he could've been one of the great men of the 21st century.”
Even after viewing The Story of Rock ’n’ Roll Comics, I can’t share that sentiment, as the examples of RnR reveal the comics as cheap-looking, but competent enough. He employed some talented artists and writers who went on to bigger and better things ... but also screwed over said talented artists and writers. The books never quite broke into the mainstream marketplace because, as the doc states, they didn't fit in record stores, but didn't fit it comic stores, either.
Director Ilko Davidov briefly covers Loren’s other publishing efforts, branching out into titles on sports, humor (Barf) and television (Star Jam), not to mention Conspiracy Comics and the erotic Carnal Comics, whose star attraction was Demi the Demoness. (I’ve never heard of her, either.)
Davidov overstates RnR’s importance and impact — a glimpse of David Faustino reading a copy in one episode of Married … with Children is hardly pop-culture acceptance — but that he chose to tell this story at all is admirable in itself. —Rod Lott