Sin City:
The Hard Goodbye

by Frank Miller
(Dark Horse, 1993; 2005)

Having fallen under the gritty, mesmerizing spell of the Sin City motion picture, I was very interested in exploring the original graphic novels from which the movie was drawn. The Hard Goodbye is by far the most impressive sequence in the movie, so it was a real treat to be able to sit down and go through the original story and artwork. This is especially the case since the film brings the story to life almost frame by frame. In a sense, if you've seen the movie, you've seen the graphic novel -- yet there is more depth and atmosphere on these pages than any movie can reproduce.

Marv is just a fantastic character, a big, ugly lug of a guy who grew up hard and never experienced anything real in his interaction with his fellow human beings -- not until the night he met Goldie, a beautiful woman who was kind to him and made him feel truly alive for the first time in his life. When Marv wakes up to find Goldie dead and the cops closing in on him in what is obviously a frame-up, he basically devotes his life to finding Goldie's killer and making him pay -- long and hard. We watch as he beats up and kills his way to the truth, on a pathway that takes him to the highest echelons of Sin City society and power. Marv's a funny guy, in his own way, and you can't help but root him on with all your might.

This book, like every Sin City offering, is very dark and full of violence. Frank Miller has a very distinctive artistic style that fits his subject and his film noir-ish genre perfectly -- although I must admit that I sometimes have a hard time really seeing what I'm looking at in certain frames.

A lot of people can write excellent stories, and quite a few can produce unique, stunning drawings, but it's rare indeed to find a man who has mastered both arts and combined them in such a magical way. The book is filled with stereotypical characters who defy their stereotypes, unabashedly bold, striking black-and-white artwork and a dark, noir-ish atmosphere that completely draws you in not only to the story but also to the city itself. Sin City is about much more than "booze, broads and guns," and The Hard Goodbye is a remarkable achievement in an underappreciated genre.

by Daniel Jolley
11 February 2006

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