Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard Boiled Comics - Frank Miller/Sin City

Etienne Borgers (
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 20:05:58 +0800 (SGT) Frank Miller is certainly one of the important American comics creators of
the two last decades. He's a talented draftsman, and I agree with others
from this group to say that Sin City is his most original comic series.
And it is Hard-boiled too!

The series about Sin City is like a chronicle without apparent follow-up,
where different chapters, each with its own title, can be read in no order.(*)
Sin City tells the story of several characters that may crossover in some
episodes, all very Noir, very HB and mostly very violent ( close to gore for
Clever and arty use of big black patches and opaque shadows in the drawing
make the pages very appealing visually.
I tend to find the series flamboyant and baroque, going to surrealistic
settings (willing it or not). I personally think that with all its excesses,
but also because Miller's real talent, Sin City gets a poetic dimension.
I hope Miller will keep the balance and avoid to derive to pure gore for the
pleasure of it and without necessity.

A last word. Miller always claimed he was impressed by the inventiveness
and talent of comic creators in Europe, and never hid he was influenced by
some of them during the 70's and 80's. Besides names like Guido Crepax and
Moebius, that he often cite, I personally think he has seen the work of two
top creators of the seventies that renovated completely the HB in comics at
the time, and used a heavy black patches technique as well. Munoz and
Sampayo produced first class series with a truly realistic and Noir
atmosphere, in HB tales of the Big City (they took NY City)since the early
70's. Alac Sinner, Joe's Bar were all first class series of the best
creativity. However, compared to Miller's Sin City, Munoz and Sampayo staged
a more ' realistic' surrounding in which you practically could smell the
garbage cans in the dark alleys.
(This is not criticism, just comparison)

For those interested, it happens I posted a page about Alac Sinner recently
in my web site, in the European HB Comics section (were other Euro comics
are posted as well) with some images taken from the Munoz and Sampayo series.

Its at:
(be reassured: no nasty 'pop-ups' from GeoC there!... )

I 'am preparing the Sin City chapter for the section about American HB
Comics, but there is only a thumbnail for the moment. The rest about Sin
City and Miller should be posted within two weeks. Some 'historicals' are
already there:
Dick Tracy, Agent X9, Spirit.

But if you do not know Miller, you should at least give Sin City a try.

E. Borgers

(*) However the miniseries should, at least for a same chapter, as the
graphic novels are published in that form by Dark Horse Comics (5 or 6
comics for one chapter). The chapters are published as TB (trade books) by
the same editor, collecting one complete chapter. Some short episodes ( or
chapters) can be one single thin comic book. And some others can be one
single big book.
I think this is of importance for the possible new readers.

>John Lau wrote:
>> there is absolutely nothing more hard boiled than Frank Miller's black
>> white graphic novel series SIN CITY. particularly the 1st originally
>> serialized collection which features a serial killer who makes his
>> watch as he eats their severed limbs, and then collects their heads on a
>> wall; and a protagonist who murders a crooked archbishop, feeds the
>> killer to his own dogs and dies in the electric chair at the end.
>I'm glad someone mentioned Sin City. All the books are excellent. I'm not
>a fan of Frank Miller's other work (didn't like The Dark Knight Returns and
>think it probably had a bad influence on comics in general), but Sin City
>is very compelling.

>James Reasoner

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