the-battle-of-poetry-(3)
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MILLER'S FRANKING

16 March 2005

Via my close, personal friend Tom I got into contact with the works of sequential artist Frank Miller. It started off innocently enough: I wanted to read some of my comic classics and he insisted upon it. So he gave me The Dark Knight Returns, a work that can be described as one of the most popular graphic novels. I liked it (even though I didn't even feel the art was that spectacular; I certainly enjoyed the things Miller (can I say Frank?) drew but there was still something that didn't make it shine).

Then the bastard (Tom, not Frank) bought SinCity. The same day, he came bursting into my room, nearly frothing at the mouth, saying I should read it. So before I knew it, I was frothing too. I really can't describe what Frank does in Sin City. It's such a visual, graphical feast that you have to see it to believe it. It's a self-assured powerplay of light and dark -shadows move in where light becomes so strong it corrodes the lines itself. What remains is mindboggling. It's so powerful, so wickedly over the top and yet it feels completely realistic and gritty. And that's just pocket one. Unsuspectingly, you read through the next few, and all of a sudden a blinding flash of yellow screams at you from the pages, like you're staring right into the sun itself. I hurt my eye. Amazing! This is visually so arresting that I can only gape.

I've begun to experiment with that stark black&white style myself a bit, but it's all really fragile yet. I don't plan to copy Frank directly, but he certainly made an impact, gave me inspiration. It's not just the art though that makes the work of Frank the work of Frank. What was already dominant in The Dark Knight Returns was the reliance upon the inner monologue of the main character. Sin City further develops that, even so far that the storyline itself has been condensed into it's simplest form: no sidestories, no detours, no wishy-washy flimflam. A handful of scenes, only the merest of narrative frames is all Sin City needs. The rest all lies on the inner monologue. And Frank weaves some interesting characters with it. They have a lot in common: they're nihilistic, self-sacrificial bastards who'll play it dirty and get real nasty. And at the same time, they're always defeated. They can't win and they know it from the start. And you can feel it too. It gives the stories a heaviness that makes it nigh unbearable. If it weren't so delicious.

And the good thing is: you can experience all this too (if you're ready for it)! Because Frank is co-directing the Sin City movie at the moment, the pockets are rereleased for promotion. I'm not going to tell you what you should read, because I hate patronizing people. What I can do is heartily recommend Sin City to those who don't mind some nasty tales and who are open to a visual style that shows Rembrandt what clair-obscur is really about.

Roderick.