||[Jun. 10th, 2008|05:00 pm]
100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)
#79 SIN CITY: THE HARD GOODBYE – Frank Miller
“She tried to analyze me once but got too scared.”
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you’re laughing with someone or at them. Frank Miller’s Sin City is a perfect example. This, the first Sin City comic, is about Marv, a man’s man of the kind you find in hard-boiled novels and old-fashioned action movies; the ex-soldiers, cops, crims and boxers who listen to country music, drink rough booze, know how to fix a car and hang out in strip clubs. Miller’s man’s man is exaggerated to the point of caricature and deformity. Marv’s hobbies include torture, talking about dames, throwing punches, popping pills and narrating to himself. There’s so much grit in him you could use his skin as sandpaper.
Art-wise, Sin City is more gorgeous than any of the underdressed girls Miller fills it with. Working in black and white he accentuates the shadows of things more than their outlines, creating a stark, noirish look that makes every panel seem like it’s just been caught in a prison spotlight. Each image is laboriously composed and filled with motion, every car perpetually leaping into the air as it tops a crest at high speed.
Where the Sin City stories sit in the overlapping Venn diagram of homage and parody changes the more of it you read and the better you come to know Frank Miller, but back here at the beginning the hilariously heavy-handed narration seems to have its tongue in its cheek, whether it intends to or not. Accidental genius it may be, but it’s still a kind of genius.