Sin City’s Sins, Sans Regrets

The less said about the Sin City advance screening the better. I enjoyed the first half-hour or so (most of the Marv storyline) purely on aesthetic levels — they really did bring the comic’s script and art to cinematic life — but by the end I felt like I had been bludgeoned and tortured. It reminded me why I stopped reading, and eventually got rid of, my Sin City comics (except for the original GN).

Going back to the original series, I find so much more to like than its filmic transmutation. The themes and content still leave me yawning, but the art is truly transcendent, unique to itself and much more sophisticated than memory alone represents it. Unfortunately, what started out as a fairly original homage to pulp novels became a pastiche of itself, Miller endlessly repeating himself and his sick themes of male angst. So boring! And what’s the deal with all the repeated castrations? The little Catholic schoolboy hitting his wee-wee ’cause he whacked off too much the night before? Yeeesh.

My mood was blue about the state of our culture as I left the theatre and it wasn’t helped when I found myself walking next to a fallen light from the fairly recent past. I don’t want to name him here for fear of embarrassment, but suffice it to say that he was a well-respected if not particularly virtuosic inker who worked with everybody from Miller to Byrne, Romita Jr. to Infantino, Marshall Rogers to Klaus Janson. Like I said, he was a loyal worker, dutifully putting in his stint in the assembly line that was mainstream comics.

We introduced ourselves and I asked what he was up to. I always wondered what the Image revolution did to all those guys from the ’80s. I pretty much stopped reading mainstream comics in about 1992 or so, so I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like their names all kind of disappeared at once from the credit boxes. Where did they go?

Well, turns out our “old decrepit inker” (as my last-sec “date” Danielle so delicately put it) has been pretty much left by the wayside the last DECADE or so. Poor guy. He’s working on an educational comic right now, for a publisher whose name he couldn’t even remember. Oy.

And when he found out I was a Xeric winner (!) he got all excited, wanted my card, sought me out later as if I could do something for him! “Send me a drawing,” he said, “I’ll ink it, and you’ll see I augment a penciler’s work, I don’t force my own style onto it.” I was floored. Playing out right in front of me was a morality tale about the corporate structure, how it compartmentalizes you, robs you of your autonomy, leaves you to beg for work from a lowly autobiographical cartoonist/commercial illustrator!

Fortunately, the after party was fun. Danielle and I met some nice people, including two guys from DC, and I got a chance to say quick hellos to Bob Fingerman and Michelle Cohen, purvision and his wife, leborcham, , man_size and SBX, Jeff Smith, Chris Staros, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, benjones, and a cheerful exec from Dimension Fillms.

Leaving the gathering of industry drones and scattered indy creators, I was reminded why I long ago chose to strike out on my own. I may not pay the bills with my comics, but my art stays my own, unencumbered by the vagaries of the corporate boardroom or the latest flash in the pan. And Sin City, for all its flaws (and there are so many!), is a celebration of that: a single creator with a vision, saying “take it or leave it” and willing to stand by the results.

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About joshcomix
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

6 Responses to Sin City’s Sins, Sans Regrets

  1. bardot says:

    jason had an invite to that screening last night! i couldn’t make it though :/

  2. zegas says:

    Poor comix vet… I can’t help but think about Sal Buscema, Luke McDonnell, Joe Rubenstein, Jim Aparo and…and…man, the list is endless, isn’t it?
    I felt bad when you asked me what I thought of the movie. You seemed so disappointed in me! Then I left and never got the chance to let you know that I don’t unconditionally love anything Miller does, in comics or movies. This movie is no exception.
    It was on volume 11 at all times, some of the dialogue doesn’t translate well at all, and it was like reading 3 GN’s back to back. Some of the effects were cheesy, the themes kinda redundant, and I was never a fan of “Big Fat Kill” (2nd story). Also, the only “surprise” was the ending, the non comic sequence… so that was weird in itself. I thought it was pretty entertaining, though, and some of the actors pull it off. Overall I thought it was great and would like to see it again, especially with people who’ve never read the comics. But, Josh, please don’t think any less of me because of my tastes. PLEASE, I beg you!
    Also…great seating choice. In case you didn’t notice, I had to sit in front of Mitch Cutler [my old boss] the whole night. It was awesome. Talk about the ultimate movie experience.

    • 4_eyez says:

      I felt bad when you asked me what I thought of the movie. You seemed so disappointed in me!
      LOL! Don’t take my disappointment so seriously! I realize I was probably in the vast minority in that crowd (tho’, was it my imagination or was the applause rather muted at the end?). Call me idealistic, but I guess I expect art (and I do consider films like that to be art) to contribute a little more to our culture — to borrow a phrase from Virginia Woolf, to somehow be “life-enhancing.” I just didn’t see any such qualities in Sin City.
      Regarding our seats, I wish we had sat way in the back — I might have been able to judge the flick a little more objectively without sitting six inches from the 30-foot-high screen.

  3. deadredfred says:

    Hotdogs
    I stood in line for the show for about an hour or so. I was next to a former NYC teacher that I got to rant about the 12 year old future drug pushers and addicts he had to baby sit. Apparently no actual teaching occurred. He had the typical brutal humor of someone who has looked at hell and decided to make fun of it. I found it entertaining.
    I was about 30 people from the door when they said they were full and to get out. I walked across the street to see what authentic european street food was, according to the sign for the restaurant. It’s hotdogs. I had a “Prairie Dog”. When I think of Europe, I never think of prairies.
    I heard the parts of the disgruntled line that didn’t disperse, threw stuff at the cops that made them leave. I’d guess there were at least 207 more people behind me that didn’t get in either.

  4. 4_eyez says:

    I’m such a party poop!
    Manohla Dargis of the Times saw the flick the same way I did, but she expressed it so much better: http://movies2.nytimes.com/2005/04/01/movies/01sin.html?

  5. digitante says:

    This only deepens my conundrum re: SC. I’ll probably still go and fork over my ducats…
    And if you think seeing an inker on hard times is depressing, I used to work with a guy who had been trying for years and years to break into commercial comics inking…used to just ink these big print-outs on his downtime. He was one rage-filled mofo; he punched me in the back of the head once while I sat at my desk, because I was wearing a tie (formal dinner party after work), and then he found out I knew a lot of cartoonists and suddenly he was begging me to introduce him to people…for some reason I never did (rub head, grimace)…made me feel there’s something inherently sad about the inking life, no offense to any of you inkers out there…

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