The SpiritImage by Strandell via FlickrBy Geoff Boucher
November 2, 2008

Reporting from San Francisco — No comic-book creator has seen his work brought to the screen with more reverence than Frank Miller, whose ultra-violent graphic novels “300” and “Sin City” were adapted to film practically panel by panel. “It is very strange,” Miller said, “to draw something and then have it come alive in front of you. You start to feel like a low-rent god, but, in my case, one with major feet of clay. . . . “

This minor deity, who favors fedoras and Winston cigarettes, is now attempting a new type of Hollywood trick and it starts on Christmas Day, no less; that’s the release date of ” The Spirit,” the superhero film that Miller hopes will complete his unlikely transformation from comic-book artist to successful movie director, a career path that did not seem possible even at the start of this decade. “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” may have racked up historic box-office numbers this summer, but if Miller succeeds with this particular pop-culture leap, it will be the most dramatic proof that comics have become hard-wired into the circuitry of Hollywood.

Interestingly, Miller, the most important comic-book artist of the last 25 years, chose to make his solo directorial debut with somebody else’s superhero, and a relatively obscure and vintage one at that. The Spirit was created in 1940 by the late, great Will Eisner, a beloved figure in comics who brought a cinematic flair to his drawing board that influenced several generations. No one admired Eisner more than Miller — in 2005, shortly after Eisner’s death, the book “Eisner/Miller” hit shelves with 350 pages of collected conversation between the artists as a sort of comic-book sector version of the landmark 1967 film book “Hitchcock/Truffaut.”

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