BulletProof’s new doc looks at tumultuous life and murder of Rock ?n’ Roll Comics’ Todd Loren

Free-speech champion. Provocateur. Comic book publisher. Alleged serial killer victim.

These are some of the many faces of Todd Loren, the subject of BulletProof Film’s new documentary “Unauthorized and Proud of It: Todd Loren’s Rock ?n’ Roll Comics.”

“It’s a look at the strange interplay between those twin totems of teen rebellion, rock music and comic books,” said Carmine Cervi of BulletProof.

Cervi produced with Chris Swider, and director Ilko Davidov, Cervi’s BulletProof partner.

“Unauthorized and Proud of It” premieres May 13 at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival.

Todd Loren was a mail-order salesman in San Diego until he launched Rock ?n’ Roll Comics in 1989 to pay homage to his musical heroes by telling their illustrated stories, often without those heroes’ consent.

“Unauthorized and Proud of It” includes interviews with rock world figures like Alice Cooper, Mojo Nixon, and Cynthia Plaster Caster, along with Loren’s father and many of his collaborators.

“He pissed people off so much that it was hard getting people to talk about him, even though the guy’s been dead for more than ten years,” Cervi said. “Unfortunately a lot of the people who liked him are dead too, like Frank Zappa and Jerry Garcia.”

Loren was thrust into the role of First Amendment poster boy when New Kids on the Block filed a high-profile lawsuit against him for publishing an unauthorized comic book biography of the bands. The court ultimately validated Loren’s right to publish his work (with the exception of the bands’ logos), striking a blow for artists’ fair-use rights.

Loren’s tumultuous career was cut short in 1992, when he was found stabbed to death. His murder remains unsolved, but “Unauthorized” builds the case that Loren was killed by Andrew Cunanan, the late, suspected serial killer who has been linked to the 1997 death of Gianni Versace.

The animation in “Unauthorized” is by BulletProof regular Eric Burton, who also did the animation for BulletProof’s 2004 documentary “Axis of Evil: Perforated Praeter Naturam.”