on the virtues of Frank Miller (i.e. Sin City)

sin city 1

Posted in Scans_Daily, but what the heck, I’ll put it here too.

Minrho just asked why Frank Miller gets any respect in the comics world.

Now, there are a lot of valid points to be made in the debate about Frank’s sanity and his worldview.

But when it comes to the ability to put ink on a page…

y’all better recognize.

Now, Frank’s page compositions are almost always just that – page compositions, where the page as a whole is an artistic unit. Therefore I’ve provided good-sized thumbnails of everything, so you can get the “from a distance” view as well as the closeup. (Incidentally, part of the reason why Frank’s pages work this way is because he was one of the first Americans to really carefully study Japanese comics, particularly Lone Wolf and Cub, in the 1980s.) (And it goes without saying that he worshipped Will Eisner.)

Look at the lighting:
sin city 2

Look at the composition, the placement and angle of all the white and black elements:
sin city 3

I love how he can say so much with a silhouette (notice also the composition, etc, of course):
sin city 4

sin city 5

sin city 6

He gives us absolutely everything that’s important and absolutely nothing that’s not. Another brilliant lighting panel – look at the way Hardigan’s hand emerges from the darkness… So much is implied with so little!
sin city 7

The reduction of everything to its most fundamental quality. Iconography:
sin city 8
God, that page just literally looks sharp.

Look at how he visually represents the mental state of a man being hung, swinging on the end of a noose:
sin city 9

Addition, subtraction; positive space, negative space; text, image; form, content: This is one of my favorite pages of all time.
sin city 10

I’m not saying he’s the greatest comic artist ever. Chaykin and others have played with lettering. Mignola has almost as good an eye for where to put his ink. And Eisner invented all of this back in the fifties.

But give the man his propers. Motherfucker knows his way around a page.


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Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).


Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.

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