Marv died in "Sin City" — but that doesn't mean Mickey Rourke won't be back for the sequel.

Ditto for Dwight (Clive Owen), Shellie (Brittany Murphy), Nancy (Jessica Alba), Manute (Michael Clarke Duncan), Gail (Rosario Dawson) and the rest of the Old Town gang. That's because "Sin City" is the "Pulp Fiction" of comic-book adaptations — since the interlinking stories aren't linear, when it comes time for the next installment in theaters, you'll get a prequel and a sequel at the same time.

"It jumps around a bit," writer/co-director Frank Miller said, "but mostly it's one story, incorporating some short stories that weave in and out of that."

Miller, who wrote and illustrated the hard-boiled graphic-novel series the films are based on, said he is "well in progress" on the screenplay for "Sin City 2" and anticipates that he and co-director Robert Rodriguez should be shooting as early as June in Austin, Texas.

The first "Sin City" took its stories from the first, third and fourth books — "The Hard Goodbye," "The Big Fat Kill" and "That Yellow Bastard." This next one will jump back in the sequence and derive most of its story from the second book, "A Dame to Kill For." But even though it's the second book, the action is set before book one, developing Dwight's past, loves, lusts and alliances.

Before Marv sleeps with Goldie, before Detective Hartigan finds skinny little Nancy all grown up and dancing at a strip joint, Dwight has a love affair with Ava, who leaves him to marry someone wealthy. Four years later, Ava's back, claiming the marriage is no good, and asking Dwight to help her out. This being "Sin City," you know there's more to the story than that. (And that to-die-for dame? Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Rose McGowan have all been tipped to play the femme fatale, but a rep for the studio said there's no word on Ava yet.)

Miller is also toying with incorporating "Blue Eyes," a short story that introduces the assassin Delia. The chain of events helps set up "The Hard Goodbye" and "The Big Fat Kill" in the original film, but what about what happens next? Miller is also writing a new story that'll explore what happens to Nancy after Hartigan's suicide. "Yeah, there will be surprises, but they wouldn't be surprises if I told you, would they?" Miller said.

The stories are also going to be as graphic as the first "Sin City" film — graphic in violence as well as style, showcasing the fully digital live action that made the film one of the most faithful comic adaptations yet to hit the screen. "My drawings were up on a special monitor, where they would move the camera to match my compositions," Miller explained.

After more than 10 years of turning down offers to sell the screen rights to his work, Miller finally relented because Rodriguez demonstrated that he could re-create the comic's stark look. That's what made him sign on for a sequel, due in 2007, as well as more to follow (see " 'Sin City' Co-Directors Working On Sequels, Eyeing A Tarantino Replacement").

"I was very, very fortunate," Miller said. "I won the lottery the first time out and got to do the movie it needed to be, a movie that knew what it was, and didn't have to go through the bureaucratic nonsense that most movies do."

So many movies are being made from graphic novels lately because "Hollywood sees us as a vital source of material," Miller said. The problem, though, is that Hollywood usually wants to tinker with the source material and make it "some vehicle with some star with a slapped-on happy ending because some focus group asked for it," he said.

And Miller, like his pulp characters, isn't about to let anyone sully his name. He's resolved not to let any of his other comics be adapted without him behind the camera. "I can't send my little baby down like Moses in the river and say goodbye to her," Miller said.

Of course, it's a little too late with "300," his graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae, the film version of which is being directed by Zack Snyder ("Dawn of the Dead"), because he sold the screen rights before he caught the directing bug. Miller is one of the producers, however, so he does have some say about the script, and so far, he's happy with how it's turning out.

"What I've seen of it, when I saw the set, when I saw the script, it looks like the book, it feels like it," Miller said. "It's always hard to predict these things, especially if you're not the director, but I like what I've seen."

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