I am breathless; Frank Millers bayonet stuck in my chest...
This months cover features Nancy Callahan, a Sin City dancer recently made famous in Frank Millers monthly comics series Sin City: That Yellow Bastard, published by Dark Horse Comics. In this fourth chapter of Millers Sin City tour, Nancy, introduced as a minor character early on, now dazzles her way into the forefront. A cowgirl dancer harboring one violent, secret childhood night, Nancy not only attracts the attentions of barroom onlookers but those of ex-cop John Hartigan, her protector, and the evil Roark, a U.S. Senator trying to bury the truth about what his son almost did to Nancy when she was eleven.
Sequential artist and writer Frank Miller gives another portrait of his Miller Hero in Sin City: That Yellow Bastard. His main characters have haunting, teeth-clenching drives to succeed that must echo Millers own drive to be known as the comics mediums most intense action artist. Franks pen and paper action in Sin City makes film makers John Woo and Quentin Tarantino suck eggs. Marv, protagonist of the initial Sin City chapter, personifies the Miller drive and begins a work of art that ranks Number One on my list of Reads that I just couldnt put down (right above Andrew Vachss Shella).
Frank Millers drive to make the comics genre a place of uncensored and creator-owned storytelling is one thats almost unparalleled in the industry today. He published the landmark creator-owned Ronin with DC comics in 1983, then completely blew superhero books into the adult market with 1986s masterful and mature Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. In 1993 he co-founded the Legend branch of Dark Horse Comics, which ensures creative protection and freedoms to a select fold of talented artists, and he currently writes a monthly column on industry topics and freedom of speech rights in the Overstreets Fan magazine.
Never staid, always developing, Frank Millers artwork has changed quite a bit in the past two decades while his craft as a writer becomes focused on maintaining an engaging, frenetic pace. In Ronin, Miller pays homage to both classic Japanese samurai strips and the organic style of Jean Moebius Giraud. Now, in Sin City, his black and white noir style plays off negative space and simplicity, and reads with deceptive ease.
Not only an accomplished artist, Frank Millers also written many fist-clenching, explosive adventure tales for other embellishers to bring to life. His work with David Mazzucchelli, on Marvels Daredevil series, is known as that books seminal work and remains unsurpassed. Scripting for Geof Darrow, an exhaustively detailed artist, Miller hones his tuff-guy dialogue in The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, and, in Hard Boiled, pushes the Blade Runner and Robocop man-in-the-machine riff to its severest limit. The epic Give Me Liberty series, introducing power survivor, Martha Washington, is drawn by and co-created with David Watchmen Gibbons.
While most of his current Sin City heroes are men protecting ladies, one should not overlook the strong female survivors in works past. Elektra, the beautiful assassin Miller created to haunt and taunt Daredevil, is now one of Marvel Comics top resident Bad Girls. (Millers 1990 work, Elektra Lives Again, was a tour-de-force for his longtime collaborator, colorist Lynn Varley.) The apocalyptic future in The Dark Knight Returns is stomping grounds for an aged Batman, with a girl sidekick, Carrie Robin Kelley. Martha Washington rises above poverty, racism, and corrupt power mongering, saving lives and keeping herself intact amidst chaos.
Whether hes charting a course for Sin Citys latest head-knocking hero or lashing out against book burners, Frank Millers drive to push the comics genre into a recognized and mature playing field is an art in itself. Sure, he has some stinkers out there (those Spawn things he wrote), but the body of good work hes amassed is already classic. If youre an adult who enjoys unflinching action, Frank Millers a master. His mood-effects and story pacing skills are riveting. Drop by any comic book store and ask to see some of his work everyone in the industry knows who he is. Let Frank Miller bludgeon you...and watch yourself enjoy it.