Thursday, November 06, 2008

When Words Collide: Frank Miller's Sci-Fi Samurai Epic

Take a look at this page from Frank Miller's Ronin. What's not to like? Miller was doing things 25 years ago that no one had ever done in American comics before, and yet somehow Ronin has fallen into some kind of vaguely forgotten bottom drawer of significant comic book history.

It's really quite a book, and the Absolute Ronin edition taught me to look at it with fresh eyes.

So that's what I do in this week's "When Words Collide," and I also give you some more Miller musings from that classic issue of The Comics Journal I've referenced a few times here this week.

Check out WWC: Frank Miller's Sci-Fi Samurai Epic. And let me know what you think.

17 comments:

Kyle said...

Quibbling the column here since I'm too lazy to sign up for CBR right now:

SPOILER ALERT

Agat only influences Virgo in the metaphorical sense. The Agat we see in the future is created by Virgo as a stressor on Billy. Like Watchmen, my favorite Moore work, Ronin, my favorite Miller work, ends with the revelation of a con (and its repercussions). I initially disliked the sudden spread ending, but can appreciate it now after viewing numerous Hitchcock films. I assume the fold-out is maintained in this edition.

Timothy Callahan said...

The fold-out is indeed maintained. And the ending is still explosive, as I say.

And, wait, what are you quibbling about?

Marc Caputo said...

Man, first Green Lantern Corps and now this. What's next, Tim, you gonna come around to my way of thinking on Nova?

Probably not, but 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Marc Caputo said...

Also, remember a big innovation for comics at the time was the abandoning of thought bubbles and captions/title cards to give more of a cinematic vibe to the whole thing.

Interestingly enough, in Bendis' The Mighty Avengers 1, the book that (God help us) brought thought bubbles back, Frank Cho uses a pose similar to the one when Billy gets the arms (I'm doing this from memory). It's too weird of a coincidence, but it's even weirder to think that Bendis or Cho remembered this.

Anyway, can you use your CBR weight to maybe get Bendis or Cho to speak to that?

Chad Nevett said...

Tim, really enjoyed this week's column.

Kyle said...

"we find out later that Virgo, the artificial intelligence, is the real victim of Agat's influence" was the sentence fragment I was quibbling.

Timothy Callahan said...

Right, but then I explain how everything we know turns out to be wrong. So that sentence referred to what we knew at the time. Got it?

Greg said...

Is Camelot 3000 an earlier DC creator-owned series? It came out a bit earlier than Ronin, but ended later, and I only imagine that it's creator-owned. I know you said Ronin was "one of the first," and I was thinking this probably preceded it.

Good stuff, as usual. Makes me want to replace my trade with the Absolute Edition. Damn DC and their policies!

Timothy Callahan said...

Hmmm, I don't think Camelot 3000 is actually creator owned. It was direct market, but that doesn't mean anything. It certainly could be creator owned, though. But I just haven't ever read that it is.

The "one of the first" line was put in for just such ignorance on my part.

Timothy Callahan said...

For the official record, and I'll probably post about this at some point: I e-mailed Paul Levitz about Camelot 3000 and he said it wasn't creator-owned, and it was actually set up under the standard newsstand distribution deal of the time.

So there you have it.

Kyle said...

Also for the record: got it.

Hopefully the article will get more people to read Ronin.

Marc Caputo said...

Just finished the Absolute version last night, Tim. You're right - it looks fantastic. I wish there had been more in the way of bonus material, though, especially with its position in both Miller's and DC's history. (Especially with the fact that it cost me the same as the Sandman and Watchmen Abs., for MUCH less material...)

One question remains and it may have been covered in that TCJ 101 issue: any reason why Miller chose to go to DC when Marvel was running EPIC (magazine and comic line) at the time?

Timothy Callahan said...

I think the Foreword to the Absolute Edition answers that question, since it describes how DC lured Frank to work for them by offering him whatever he wanted.

Marc Caputo said...

Now I feel like a real idiot - my foreword pages were stuck together ( a lot of them were); I thought the first thing was the Casey diary material. Was that in the original trade? Because it surely wasn't in the original "floppies".

Timothy Callahan said...

Christ, Marc. I know you like Ronin, but I don't want to hear about your stuck-together pages. Spend some time with the wife, or the internet, or something.

Marc Caputo said...

Yeah, as soon as I hit "Publish", I knew I was doomed.

Ben said...

It's funny how you mentioned that Miller's "concept [is] strong enough for several years of a television series," when Genndy Tartakovsky did exactly that (brilliantly, I might add) with Samurai Jack.