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.