Thursday, August 04, 2005

Review of: Sin City, Book 1: The Hard Goodbye

Frank Miller's hard-nosed, stark, film noir-inspired world of Sin City started way back in 1991 with The Hard Goodbye. The story was kicked off in the Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special which I bought and read fourteen years ago. It offered the first introduction to the Sin City world and began Marv's tale (which would then be collected here in The Hard Goodbye). This is one of the 3-4 stories that make up Robert Rodriguez' Sin City feature film.

The artwork is stark and stylized - but stark to the point of some critics calling Frank Miller lazy. It's a little of both. Highly dramatic, but also indifferent to the inane details. It's storytelling stripped down to only its essential elements. I can respect that. But all things considered, Miller is a lazy bastard. Luckily the style fits perfectly with this type of story.

That first installment from DHP's Fifth Anniversary was recreated panel-for-panel, shot-for-shot in Rodriguez' film in rather remarkable fashion. This wasn't an adaptation of Miller's work. It was literally using the graphic novel as the storyboards - as the bible - for the film. I can't say if the rest of the story followed in such a strict fashion, but I wouldn't be surprised.

The story itself is an interesting mix of exaggerrated film noir infused with comic book larger-than-life characters and action. It's damn ugly and nasty and makes no apologies. The writing is a bit unnecessarily on-the-nose. Nothing here is left to subtlety, leaving the whole thing rather simplistic.

It's grit and grist as artform. Blood and violence as poetry. It's a worthwhile experience, but it's no landmark in literature.


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