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Comics at Cannes: Director Owen Kline on Funny Pages

A humorous look at the world of comics.

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Graphic novels aren’t often a big part of the Cannes Film Festival although the odd film based on a comic sneaks in now and then. The 75th edition of the most prestigious  fest of them all is now taking place, and there’s one film set in the world of comics that is debuting in the Director’s Fortnight: Funny Pages, written and directed by Owen Kline. 

Starring Daniel Zolghadri and Matthew Maher, it’s described as “A bitingly funny coming-of-age story of a teenage cartoonist who rejects the comforts of his suburban life in a misguided quest for soul.” It’s produced by the Safdie Brothers and indie powerhouse A24 – and although it’s been finished for quite some time, it’s just coming out now. 

Kline is no stranger to showbiz – as a child actor he starred in The Squid and the Whale among other things – but this is his directing debut. He’s also no stranger to the world of comics – I met him way back in the day at the old Rocketship Comics events. For total authenticity, Funny Pages was partially shot at JHU on Staten Island, and the film looks to delve into comics life with some accuracy.

I reached out to Kline to learn a bit more about the film: “It’s about a young cartoonist who also works in a comics shop,” he told me. “Another main character he meets is a bitter Image Comics color separator fallen to the wayside.”

The film also includes a lot of actual comics, with Johnny Ryan producing the main character’s work and Rick Altergott doing the art of the main character’s mentor.

So why this world? “I wanted to make a movie about a cartoonist, and the hermetic seal of a local comics shop. I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was younger so it was just fabric I was familiar with. I realized very quickly that having a few characters that were cartoonists was a fun thing to zero in on in terms of character detail. And I’d get to cast cartoonists of different styles for the characters to match their ideals. One very hopeful and un-self-aware character draws a crude Barks-inspired funny animal minicomic.”

It’s also about “the clash in comics taste and overall elitism of the different characters,” which leads to a lot of that biting humor mentioned in the blurb.

Funny Pages is probably going to show up in theaters or your favorite streaming service later in the year – definitely sounds like it will have some interesting takes on the world of comics.

 

    

 

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