DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING
It’s no lie to say that I wouldn’t be publishing comics today if it wasn’t for this one book, Sin City. It came out in ’93, right around the time I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my accumulated comic book knowledge. And Frank doing his thing without interference really made me see you could have things your way if you worked hard and had a little pluck:
Sin City (Dark Horse Comics, Fifteen Bucks) Every once in a while, somebody shows up out of nowhere and shakes up the party. When I was a boy, comic books were everywhere; the corner drugstore, the barber shop, the dentist’s office. A little modern-day morality play in easily-digestible morsels for the kids. A little good-versus-evil, a little do-unto-others, mostly espoused by a strange visitor from another planet or maybe by a teenager (just a few years older than us) who’d got bit by a radioactive spider…
But then comic books retreated from the newsstands and the magazine racks at the grocery stores in the face of video games and extreme sports and all; maybe not so much retreated as pushed out. Too many more visceral and immediate entertainments vying for attention, and comic books (with their Fifties ethics or Sixties “relevancy”) started to look a little dusty.
But every once in a while, somebody shows up out of nowhere and shakes up the party.
I’m not talking about writer/artist Frank Miller, who’d cut his teeth on Daredevil and made his mark with Dark Knight Returns; he wasn t exactly an unknown in the field of comics when he served up Sin City, neat. No, I’m talking about Marv, the protagonist. When Marv appeared on the comics scene, it was a rough and sweaty and yes, violent debut. The spiritual heir to Spade and Marlowe and Hammer and the rest literally burst through the window and changed how comics (as a business and as an artform) were perceived. Miller was a guy doing a comic book about what he wanted to, in the way he wanted to, all busted knuckles and spent shells and unstoppable conviction.
Now some people see allegory when they read Sin City, since the thing starts off with Marv waking up next to the dead prostitute Goldie; eggheads see Marvel Comics having its way with the Golden Age of comic books and accidentally being responsible for its demise. But me? I see a guy doing what he wants the way he wants, and coming out of nowhere to shake up the party.
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