Ohio Film Critic Channels Frank Miller

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By: Graham Webster

About halfway through watching Sin City, the hit film adaptation of Frank Miller’s gritty, black-and-white graphic novels, Gerry Shamray, a comic artist who also reviews movies for Sun Newspapers (a chain of 25 weeklies in Ohio) decided he wouldn’t exactly write the review at all. “I really thought it was great how the filmmakers of Sin City tried to capture the look of a comic book on film,” Shamray told E&P a few days later. “I found that truly inspiring and wanted to do something different in my review.”

He decided to present the review as a comic ? and since he holds another position at Sun as graphics editor, he was in the perfect position to do it. Shamray also has experience working with renowned Cleveland comic book writer Harvey Pekar for nearly 25 years, including work on the American Splendor comics, which also were turned into the film by that name two years ago.

Making the review as stylistic as Sin City itself wasn’t easy. “I normally spend an hour or so on a review,” Shamray claims. “This one took much longer. When I first got the idea, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off, so I took it one step at a time.”

Accustomed to writing standard text-based reviews, Shamray says writing the dialogue came easily. The art, however, “took some experimenting to get the right look. I debated what I should exactly show in each panel,” he explains. “It was also important to me to capture a strong, punchy black-and-white pattern to the entire piece.”

After the review ran, Shamray was pleased to see some buzz developing online, some of it outside of the reach of Sun Newspapers’ weeklies in northeast Ohio. He says he’s lucky to enjoy the creative freedom allowed for such projects: “I have always been given the room to be creative, and they have always been open to my ideas.”

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