Dedicated readers have long known that the medium of comics and graphic novels isn't all about caped super-heroes and spandex-clad bad girls. In fact, the combination of words and pictures can be the perfect vehicle for telling all kinds of stories, from poignant memoirs to lighter takes on the mundane musings of modern life. This collection of short stories illustrates, quite literally, the effectiveness of the medium for telling the most personal of stories — the autobiography — and does so by showcasing some of the first published autobiographical stories from living-legend artists, mainstream greats, and young "indie" up-and-comers.
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Frank Miller began his career in comics in the late 1970s, first drawing then writing Daredevil for Marvel Comics, creating what was essentially a crime comic disguised as a superhero book. It was on Daredevil that Miller gained notoriety, honed his storytelling abilities, and took his first steps toward becoming a giant in the comics medium. After Daredevil came Ronin, a science-fiction samurai drama that seamlessly melded Japanese and French comics traditions into the American mainstream; and after that, the groundbreaking and acclaimed Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, both of which not only redefined the classic character, but also revitalized the industry itself. Finally able to fulfill his dream of doing an all-out, straight-ahead crime series, Miller introduced Sin City in 1991. Readers responded enthusiastically to Miller's tough-as-leather noir drama, creating an instant sales success. His multi-award-winning 300 series from Dark Horse, a telling of history's most glorious and underreported battle, was brought to full-blooded life in 1998. In 2001, Miller returned to the superhero genre with the bestselling Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Frank Miller continues to push the medium into new territories, exploring subject matter previously untouched in comics, and his work consistently receives the highest praise from his industry peers and readers everywhere. In 2005, with the hugely successful Sin City movie release, codirected with Robert Rodriguez, Miller added a director's credit to his already impressive résumé and introduced his characters to an entirely new legion of fans worldwide.From Publishers Weekly:
This slim anthology of autobiographical musings by established comics stars and up-and-comers alike is a mixed bag. Autobiography in comics is a tricky business; a unique perspective is key. Much of this material is straightforward reminiscences from aging talent: Will Eisner on his first rejection; Paul Chadwick on an old apartment; Stan Sakai on a trip to Europe; Sergio Aragones on an encounter with Nixon, etc. These pieces, like others in the book, are fairly prosaic memoirs by artists that veer often into sentimentality and vagaries. Though well drawn in loose, cartoony styles, the stories have no urgency and seem arbitrarily chosen. Furthermore, these and other artists show the world through their eyes, but reveal nothing unusual in the processâ€"it's like sitting next to someone on an airplane and listening to him recite his life story in a monotone. That's the bad news. The good news is that there are a few fine pieces. Frank Miller's hyperbolic account of going to the Daredevil film premiere is ridiculous and entertaining; Paul Hornshemeier's pencil and ink story about drawing his story is thoughtful and well rendered; and Eddie Campbell, of From Hell fame, trumps the entire book with a devastating account of losing his artistic confidence, drawn in his trademark shaky, sensitive pen line. This compilation may be nobly intentioned, but autobiographical comics pioneer Campbell's contribution ultimately shows its deep flaws: in the hands of a master, autobiographical comics can be poignant and affecting, but even those skilled at other kinds of graphic storytelling can't always bring that eloquence to their own experience.
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