Sunday, April 10, 2005

This G4TV Special Is Good: Icons: Frank Miller

Because I like video games and pretty women, I watch a good deal of G4. Other than appearences by Bob Fingerman and Evan Dorkin on an episode of Filter and a reference to Jimmy Corrigan on X-Play, there hasn't been a lot of comics content, at least in the shows I watch.

So I was surprised to see an episode of their Icons series, which usually spotlights influential game developers or serieses, devoted to Frank Miller. Sure, it was timely, since I caught it last weekend, when Sin City opened. But it was very odd to see a special devoted to a cartoonist with no discernible ties to video games (that Grand Theft Auto: Sin City April Fool's gag aside) on a channel almost entirely devoted to video games. So, with that in mind, I TIVOed it, not expecting a whole lot. I was pleasently surprised.

Icons: Frank Miller offers a good overview of the man's career, covering everything from his first exposure to comics (an anecdote which serves as the intro to the Batman: Year One trade) to his collaboration with Robert Rodriguez on the Sin City movie. Miller even takes the oppurtunity to plug All-Star Batman and Robin at the end.

The meat of the episode is interview footage of Miller and other comics pros (including Paul Dini, Erik Larsen, Joe Casey, and even Stan Lee himself) talking about every step of his career. It's interesting to hear Miller talk about his interaction with Neal Adams when he was an aspiring cartoonist, and I thought it was a nice touch that Casey's description of Adams' work actually provided viewers who would have never heard of him a good idea of the impact he had on comics. It was touches like this, and the attention paid to the fact that Ronin being a creator-owned comic published by DC was an anomoly at the time, that really impressed me. These are the kinds of things that could easily be glossed over (especially given the fact that it was a 30 miniute show), but the people involved with the production did their homework. It was also nice to see Lynne Varley's impact on his work addressed, and somewhat of a surprise to learn that she and Miller are married (how did I not pick that up, given the amount of collborations between the two I've read?).

The only projects of Miller's that didn't recieve any mention were Big Guy and Rusty and the Dark Knight Strikes Again. I can understand that; the former is pretty obscure, even by the standards of Miller's creator owned work published by Dark Horse (although it did have a cartoon). And really, you couldn't very well go in to detail about the latter in what's meant to be a celebration of the man's career, since most people seem to hate it, although it is odd that they completely ignored the fact that he did a follow up to DKR, given the fact that they did talk about its impact, and they could at least say it sold well.

That aside, this was a very well done retrospective of Miller's career and impact on comics, especially given what I expected. It gives Miller and his work their due (I thought they did a very good job of presenting individual pages and panels of his art). You can read G4's interview with Miller here, but I'd reccomend catching the full broadcast if you get G4 (or are one of those internet pirates that Greg is always talking about. It is internet pirates, right?). It's an interesting summary of his career, one that, as Paul Dini said, set the medium on its ear and made it look at itself in a different light.

Edit: Thanks to Tom Spurgeon for this page of Frank Miller-related links, so I wouldn't have to comb through G4's site (or go to the tedious and complicated process of using Google). There's a lot of interesting Miller-related reading there, including that Moore parody of his DD run.


Blogger MCF said...

GTA: Sin City? I didn't hear that gag, but now I'm thinking how awesome that game would be...

4/11/2005 07:18:00 PM  

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