Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frank Miller's Sin City

Way back in 1991, comic book legend Frank Miller introduced us to the world of Sin City. First appearing Dark Horse Presents, the last adventure of the honorable sociopath Marv blew its way into the consciousness of the comic book industry. Between 1991 and 2000, comic and neo-noir aficionados jumped into this strange imaginary world and were further rewarded with an almost perfect transcription to film in 2005.

Since this first story (or "yarn," as Dark Horse labels them), Frank Miller returned to Sin City several times, taking his readers through the wonderfully vicious underbelly of the ambiguously amalgamated Basin City. Mainly a fictionalized Los Angeles (as evidenced by its layout and landmarks), partially a gangster-era Las Vegas (its "industries" and criminal organizations), and somewhat of a 1970s New York City or Chicago (its politics and skyline), Miller builds a living, breathing city unmatched anywhere else in comicdom. Even comic universe stalwarts Metropolis and Gotham City, with their longevity in pop culture consciousness, struggle to feel as real as the streets and alleys of Basin City.

Each yarn, be it a mini-series or a one-shot, is populated by repulsive (yet somehow loveable) characters. The aforementioned Marv, a sociopathic killer whose desire to help the defenseless (particularly defenseless women) leaves you rooting for him, while secretly acknowledging the need to remove him from society. Dwight McCarthy, a gun for hire whose past results in the need for a surgically altered appearance, is a more level-headed protagonist and a more traditional anti-hero, but still resides on the wrong side of the law. Which is fine in the world of Sin City, since the law is often on the wrong side of the law.

Simply put, Sin City is neo-noir, hard-boiled pulp-fiction at its best. That it is one of the few comics out there that can lay an honest claim to being a work of art (both visually and narratively) makes it that much more relevant. And, for a decade, comic readers got to enjoy semi-regular forays into the city that everyone loves to read about, but no one wants to live.

1991 gave us Sin City. 1993 gave us A Dame to Kill For. 1994: The Big Fat Kill. 1996: That Yellow Bastard. 1997: Family Values. 1999: Hell and Back. We were even treated to Booze, Broads & Bullets, which compiled all of the Sin City shorts and one-shots (published from 1994 to 1997) in one book. Hell and Back finished its run in April of 2000, and fans eagerly awaited more.

And waited.

And waited. At one point, Frank Miller hinted at a new book called The Long, Hard Goodbye. Which never materialized.

So they waited.

And waited. In 2005, the film version of Sin City (comprised of the stories for the original Sin City, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard, all almost verbatim adaptations), directed by Robert Rodriguez, hit the screens, temporarily sating fans. After the film, they got The Hard Goodbye. Unfortunately, in what many call a despicable marketing ploy, The Hard Goodbye was simply a re-issue of the original Sin City tale with but a new title. With no word of what happened to The Long, Hard Goodbye.

Frank Miller, it seemed, had abandoned his comic following in pursuit of a film directing career (which, so far, has culminated in the absolutely horrible The Spirit) and more Sin City movies.

So they wait.

Sin City 2 and Sin City 3 are apparently on the Hollywood horizon, and to keep things fresh, Frank Miller has promised that new stories will appear in those films. And that, yes, they will also appear as comics.

But we're still waiting.


  1. dude....frank miller is the his sin city and work on batman...but yeah its been a while...

  2. I don't know Frank Miller or Sin City. But just from what you wrote, he sounds a bit like Raymond Chandler reincarnated, spending his time channeling James Ellroy, creating Marv who channels Dexter, who acts out his sociopathy in L.A. Confidential.


  3. i guess i need to check out this masterpiece, but i've never been real fond of the comic book genre...unless you count Peanuts. Not that kind of comic book? ha ha, i know.
    yea, The Spirit sucked big--the movie; don't know about the comic

  4. Ah well you know comics and I are not the best bedfellows but as a graphic novel, it looks wonderful and the Sin City film was awesome.

  5. Tom, don't forget Bullwinkle. That dude had it goin'.

  6. Some people grow out of them, some people grow into the genre... it seems to have been with you a long time. Can you kick someones butt in the industry to get it going? -J