Saturday, June 18, 2011

Frank Miller (comics)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Frank Miller

Miller at Comic-Con 2008
BornJanuary 27, 1957 (age 54)
Olney, Maryland, U.S.
Film director
Notable worksBatman: The Dark Knight Returns
Batman: Year One
Sin City
Daredevil: Born Again
Give Me Liberty
Official website
Frank Miller (born January 27, 1957)[1] is an American comic book artistwriter and film director best known for his dark, film noir-style comic book stories and graphic novels Ronin,Daredevil: Born AgainBatman: The Dark Knight ReturnsSin City and 300. He also directed the film version of The Spirit, shared directing duties with Robert Rodriguez on Sin City and produced the film 300.

[edit]Personal life

Miller was born in Olney, Maryland,[2] and raised in Montpelier, Vermont,[2] the fifth of seven children of a nurse mother and a carpenter/electrician father.[3] His family was Irish Catholic.[4]Living in New York City's Hell's Kitchen influenced Miller's material in the 1980s. Miller lived inLos AngelesCalifornia in the 1990s, which influenced Sin City.[5] Miller moved back to Hell's Kitchen by 2001 and was creating Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again as the 9/11 terroristattacks occurred not far from that neighborhood.[6]


Setting out to become an artist, Miller received his first published work at Western Publishing'sGold Key Comics imprint, on the licensed TV-series comic book The Twilight Zone drawing the story "Royal Feast" in issue #84 (June 1978), and "Endless Cloud" in #85 (July 1978).[7]
One-time Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter recalled Miller going to DC Comics after having broken in with "a small job from Western Publishing, I think. Thus emboldened, he went to DC, and after getting savaged by Joe Orlando, got in to see art director Vinnie Colletta, who recognized talent and arranged for him to get a one-page war-comic job".[8] The Grand Comics Database does not list the job, which may or may not have been signed; Miller's first listed work is the six-page "Deliver Me From D-Day", by writer Wyatt Gwyon, in Weird War Tales #64 (June 1978).[9] A two-page story, however, written by Roger McKenzie and titled "Slowly, painfully, you dig your way from the cold, choking debris...", appears in Weird War Tales #68 (Oct. 1978).[10] Other fledgling work at DC included the six-page "The Greatest Story Never Told", by writer Paul Kupperberg, in that same issue, and the five-page "The Edge of History", written by Elliot S. Maggin, in Unknown Soldier #219 (Sept. 1978). and his first work for Marvel Comics, penciling the 17-page story "The Master Assassin of Mars, Part 3" in John Carter, Warlord of Mars #18 (Nov. 1978).[11] Ironically, Miller had a letter he wrote to Marvel as a comics fan published several years earlier in 1973 (The Cat#3) [12]
At Marvel, Miller would settle in as a regular fill-in and cover artist, working on a variety of titles. One of these jobs was drawing Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #27–28 (Feb.–March 1979), which guest-starred Daredevil. At the time, sales of the Daredevil title were poor; however, Miller saw something in the character he liked and asked editor-in-chief Jim Shooter if he could work on Daredevil's regular title. Shooter agreed and made Miller the new penciller on the title. As Miller recalled in 2008,
When I first showed up in New York, I showed up with a bunch of comics, a bunch of samples, of guys in trench coats and old cars and such. And [comics editors] said, 'Where are the guys in tights?' And I had to learn how to do it. But as soon as a title came along, when [Daredevil signature artist] Gene Colan left Daredevil, I realized it was my secret in to do crime comics with a superhero in them. And so I lobbied for the title and got it".[3]

[edit]Daredevil and the early 1980s

Miller at the 1982 Comic-Con
Daredevil #158 (May 1979), Miller's debut on that title, was the finale of an ongoing story written byRoger McKenzie. Although still conforming to traditional comic book styles, Miller infused this first issue with his own film noir style.[13] After this issue, Miller became one of Marvel's rising stars, and began plotting additional stories with McKenzie. Learning from Neal Adams,[citation needed]Miller would sit for hours sketching the roofs of New York in an attempt to give his Daredevil art an authentic feel not commonly seen in superhero comics at the time. Miller was so successful with the title that Marvel began publishing the Daredevil comic monthly (as opposed to its previous bimonthly publication period). With issue #168 (Jan. 1981), Miller took over full duties as writer and penciller, with Klaus Janson as inker. Issue #168 saw the first appearance of the ninja mercenaryElektra, who despite being an assassin-for-hire would become Daredevil's love-interest. Miller would write and draw a solo Elektra story in Bizarre Adventures #28 (Oct. 1981).
Daredevil #168 (Jan. 1981), Elektra's debut. Cover art by Miller and Klaus Janson.
With his creation of Elektra, Miller's work on Daredevil was characterized by darker themes and stories. This peaked when in #181 (April 1982) he had the assassinBullseye kill Elektra. Miller made it clear[citation needed]with the next few issues that he intended Elektra to remain dead, but nonetheless she was revived during his time as writer.[citation needed] Miller finished hisDaredevil run with issue #191 (Feb. 1983); in his time he had transformed a second-tier character into one of Marvel's most popular.
Additionally, Miller in 1980 drew a short Batman Christmas story called "Wanted: Santa Claus-Dead or Alive" written by Denny O'Neil for DC Special Series #21. This was his first encounter with a character with which, like Daredevil, he would become closely associated.
As penciler and co-plotter, Miller, together with writer Chris Claremont, produced the miniseriesWolverine #1-4 (Sept.-Dec. 1982), inked by Josef Rubinstein and spinning off from the popular X-Men title. Miller used this miniseries to expand on Wolverine's character while featuring more manga-influenced art.[citation needed] The series was a critical success and further cemented Miller's place as an industry star.
His first creator-owned title was DC Comics' six-issue miniseries Ronin (1983–1984). Here Miller not only refined his own art and storytelling techniques, but also helped change how creator rights were viewed.[citation needed] After Ronin, Miller returned to Marvel for Daredevil #219, inspired by the film High Plains Drifter.[citation needed]

[edit]Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and the late 1980s

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 (Feb. 1986). Cover art by Miller.
In 1986, DC Comics released writer-penciler Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a four-issue miniseries printed in what the publisher called "prestige format" — squarebound, rather than stapled; on heavy-stock paper rather than newsprint, and with cardstock rather than glossy-paper covers. It was inked by Klaus Janson and colored by Lynn Varley.
The story tells how Batman retired after the death of the second Robin (Jason Todd), and at age 55 returns to fight crime in a dark and violent future. Miller created a tough, gritty portrayal of Batman, who was often referred to as the "Darknight Detective" in 1970s portrayals. Released the same year as Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons' DC miniseries Watchmen, it showcased a new form of more adult-oriented storytelling to both comics fans and a crossover mainstream audience.The Dark Knight Returns influenced the comic-book industry by heralding a new wave of darker characters. The trade paperback collection proved to be a big seller for DC and remains in print 20 years after first being published.
By this time, Miller had returned as the writer of Daredevil. Following his self-contained story "Badlands", penciled by John Buscema, in #219 (June 1985), he co-wrote #226 (Jan. 1986) with departing writer Dennis O'Neil. Then, with artist David Mazzucchelli, he crafted a seven-issue story arc that, like The Dark Knight Returns, similarly redefined and reinvigorated its main character. The storyline, Daredevil: Born Again, in #227-233 (Feb.-Aug. 1986) chronicled the hero's Catholicbackground, and the destruction and rebirth of his real-life identity, Manhattan attorney Matt Murdock, at the hands of Daredevil's archnemesis, the crime lord Wilson Fisk, also known as theKingpin.
Miller and artist Bill Sienkiewicz produced the graphic novel Daredevil: Love and War in 1986. Featuring the character of the Kingpin, it indirectly bridges Miller's first run on Daredevil and Born Again by explaining the change in the Kingpin's attitude toward Daredevil. Miller and Sienkiewicz also produced the eight-issue miniseries Elektra: Assassin for Epic Comics. Set outside regular Marvel continuity, it featured a wild tale of cyborgs and ninjas, while expanding further on Elektra's background. Both of these projects were well-received critically. Elektra: Assassin was praised for its bold storytelling, but neither it nor Daredevil: Love and War had the influence or reached as many readers asDark Knight Returns or Born Again.
Miller's final major story in this period was in Batman issues 404-407 in 1987, another collaboration with Mazzuchelli. Titled Batman: Year One, this was Miller's version of the origin of Batman in which he retconned many details and adapted the story to fit his Dark Knightcontinuity. Proving to be hugely popular, this was as influential as Miller's previous work and a trade paperback released in 1988 remains in print and is one of DC's best selling books.
Miller had also drawn the covers for the first twelve issues of First Comics English language reprints of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima'sLone Wolf and Cub. This helped bring Japanese manga to a wider Western audience.
During this time, Miller (along with Marv WolfmanAlan Moore and Howard Chaykin) had been in dispute with DC Comics over a proposed ratings system for comics. Disagreeing with what he saw as censorship, Miller refused to do any further work for DC,[13] and he would take his future projects to the independent publisher Dark Horse Comics. From then on Miller would be a major supporter of creator rights and be a major voice against censorship in comics.

[edit]The 1990s Sin City and 300

After announcing he intended to release his work only via the independent publisher Dark Horse Comics, Miller completed one final project forEpic Comics, the mature-audience imprint of Marvel ComicsElektra Lives Again was a fully painted graphic novel written and drawn by Miller and colored by longtime partner Lynn Varley. Telling the story of the resurrection of Elektra from the dead and Daredevil's quest to find her, it was the first example of a new style in Miller's art,[citation needed] as well as showing Miller's will to experiment with new story-telling techniques.[citation needed]
Marv walking through the rain in the The Hard Goodbye cover by Frank Miller
1990 saw Miller and artist Geof Darrow start work on Hard Boiled, a three-issue miniseries which suffered from long delays between issues.[citation needed] The title, a mix of violence and satire, was praised[citation needed] for Darrow's highly detailed art and Miller's writing. At the same time Miller and artist Dave Gibbons produced Give Me Liberty, a four-issue miniseries for Dark Horse. A mixture of action and political satire, the title sold well[citation needed] and cemented Miller's reputation as a writer of mature-audience comics. Give Me Liberty was followed by sequel miniseries and specials expanding on the story of protagonist Martha Washington, an African-American woman in modern and near-future southern North America, all of which were written by Miller and drawn by Gibbons.
Miller also wrote the scripts for the science fiction films RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3, about a police cyborg. Neither was critically well-received.[citation needed] Afterward, Miller stated[citation needed] he would never allow Hollywood to make movie adaptations of his comics, being disgusted with what he characterized as studio interference with his scriptwriting. Miller would come into contact with the fictional cyborg once more, however, writing the comic-book minieries, RoboCop vs. The Terminator, with art by Walter Simonson. In 2003, Miller's screenplay for RoboCop 2 was adapted by Steven Grant for Avatar Press's Pulsaar imprint. Illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, the series is called Frank Miller's RoboCop and contains plot elements that were divided between RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3.
In 1991, Miller started work on his first Sin City story. Serialized in Dark Horse Presents #51-62, Miller wrote and drew the story in black and white to emphasize its film noir origins. Proving to be another success, the story was released in a trade paperback. This first Sin City "yarn" was rereleased in 1995 under the name The Hard GoodbyeSin City proved to be Miller's main project for much of the remainder of the decade, as Miller told more Sin City stories within this noir world of his creation, in the process helping to revitalize the crime comicsgenre.[citation needed] Sin City proved artistically auspicious for Miller and again brought his work to a wider audience without comics.
Daredevil: Man Without Fear was a miniseries published by Marvel Comics in 1993 based on an earlier film script.[citation needed] In this Miller and artist John Romita Jr. told Daredevil's origins differently than in the comics. Miller also returned to superheroes by writing issue #11 ofTodd McFarlane's Spawn, as well as the Spawn/Batman crossover for Image Comics.
In 1995, Miller and Darrow collaborated again on Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, published as a two-part miniseries by Dark Horse Comics. In 1999 it became an animated series on Fox Kids. During this period, Miller became one of the founding members of the comic imprint Legend, under which many of his Sin City works were released, via Dark Horse. Also, it was during the 1990s that Miller did cover art for many titles in the Comics Greatest World/Dark Horse Heroes line.
Written and illustrated by Frank Miller with painted colors by Varley, 300 was a 1998 comic-book miniseries, released as a hardcover collection in 1999, retelling the Battle of Thermopylae and the events leading up to it from the perspective of Leonidas of Sparta300 was particularly inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, a movie that Miller watched as a young boy.[citation needed] In 2007, 300 was adapted by director Zack Snyder into a successful film.

[edit]Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again and the 2000s

Miller started the new millennium off with the long awaited sequel to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns for DC Comics after Miller had put past difference with DC aside. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again was initially released as a three issue series. Miller also returned to writingBatman in 2005, taking on the writing duties of All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, a series set inside of what Miller describes as the "Dark Knight Universe."[14] and drawn by Jim Lee.
Miller has been vocally opposed to recent comic art attempting to give the cosmetic appearance of what some say is more realism. In an interview on the documentary Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman, Miller said, "People are attempting to bring a superficial reality to superheroes which is rather stupid. They work best as the flamboyant fantasies they are. I mean, these are characters that are broad and big. I don't need to see sweat patches under Superman's arms. I want to see him fly."
Miller's previous attitude towards movie adaptations was to change after he and Robert Rodriguezmade a short film based on a story from Miller's Sin City entitled "The Customer is Always Right". Miller was pleased with the result, leading to him and Rodriguez directing a full length film, Sin Cityusing Miller's original comics panels as storyboards. The film was released in the U.S. on April 1, 2005. The film's success brought renewed attention to Miller's Sin City projects. Similarly, a film adaptation of 300, directed solely by Zack Snyder, brought new attention and controversy to Miller's original comic book work. A sequel to the film, based around Miller's first Sin City series, A Dame to Kill For, has been reported to be in development.[15]
At the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that Miller would write and direct a film version of Will Eisner's The Spirit.[16] Upon release on December 25, 2008, The Spirit film was panned by critics and did poorly at the box office.
At Wondercon in 2010 it was announced that Miller and Jim Lee's long-delayed series All Star Batman and Robin would resume publication in February 2011, reportedly retitled "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder".[17][18] Miller is said to also be at work on another graphic novel entitled Holy Terror, about a former special ops agent ("The Fixer") taking on Al-Qaeda.[19]

[edit]Critical reaction

Miller's work has often been met with positive reception. Daredevil: Born Again and The Dark Knight Returns were both a critical success, and Batman: Year One was met with even greater praise for its gritty style. Most of his previous work such as Ronin300 and Sin City were very successful. However, Miller's later work often has been met with criticism. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again received mixed to negative reviews. All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder in particular was met with harsh criticism.[20][21][22]
Some of Miller's works have been accused of lacking humanity,[23] particularly in regard to the abundance of prostitutes portrayed in Sin City.[24] When it was released in 2008, Miller's film adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit met with largely negative reviews, earning a metascore of 30/100 at the review aggregation site[25]


Miller has stated that his influence includes the writing of Mickey SpillaneRaymond ChandlerJames MadisonBenjamin FranklinJohn Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.
Outside of the comic and political circuit, his influence includes art historian Kenneth Clark, and the animation by Fleischer Studios.

[edit]Cameo appearances

Frank Miller has appeared in five films in small roles, dying in each.



[edit]DC Comics

[edit]Marvel Comics

[edit]Dark Horse

[edit]Valiant Comics

Miller drew the covers for all the August 1992 dated Valiant Comics as part of the Unity crossover:

[edit]Other publishers


  • Batman: Year One ISBN 0-930289-33-1
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (trade paperback ISBN 1-56389-342-8)
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (trade paperback ISBN 1-56389-929-9)
  • Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man (includes PPTSSM #27-28, ASM Annual #14–15, MTU #100, Annual #4 and all his covers for MTU, PPTSSM and ASM) (trade paperback ISBN 0-7851-0899-8)
  • Daredevil: Born Again (collects Daredevil #227–233 (1985–86) ISBN 0-87135-297-4)
  • Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (trade paperback ISBN 0-7851-0046-6)
  • Daredevil Visionaries – Frank Miller Vol.1 tpb (collects Daredevil #158–161, #163–167)
  • Daredevil Visionaries – Frank Miller Vol.2 tpb (collects Daredevil #168–182) ISBN 0-7851-0771-1
  • Daredevil Visionaries – Frank Miller Vol.3 tpb (collects Daredevil #183–191, What If...? #28, 35, Bizarre Adventures #28) ISBN 0-7851-0802-5
  • Elektra: Assassin (tpb ISBN 0-87135-309-1)
  • Spawn/Batman ISBN 1-58240-019-9
  • Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (1991) (collects Dark Horse Presents #51-62 and Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary #1) (also trade paperback featuring the full version, ISBN 1-59307-293-7)
  • The Life and Times of Martha Washington in The Twenty-First Century (writer, with art by Dave Gibbons, Dark Horse Comics, hardcover, 600 pages, July 2009, ISBN 1-59307-654-1) collects:
    • Give Me Liberty #1-4 (mini-series, 1990, tpb, ISBN 0-440-50446-5)
    • Martha Washington Goes to War #1-5 (mini-series, 1994, tpb, ISBN 1-56971-090-2)
    • Happy Birthday, Martha Washington (one-shot, 1995)
    • Martha Washington Stranded in Space (one-shot, 1995) (features The Big Guy)
    • Martha Washington Saves the World (3-issue mini-series, 1997, tpb ISBN 1-56971-384-7)
    • Martha Washington Dies (one-shot, 2007)


Miller was a producer for the film 300, which was adapted shot for shot into a feature film in 2007. The 2003 film version of Daredevilpredominantly use the tone established and stories written by Miller, who had no direct creative input on the film.


  • Best Short Story - 1995 "The Babe Wore Red", in Sin City: The Babe Wore Red and Other Stories (Dark Horse/Legend)
  • Best Finite Series/Limited Series - 1991 Give Me Liberty (Dark Horse), 1995 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Dark Horse/Legend), 1996 Sin City: The Big Fat Kill (Dark Horse/Legend), 1999 300 (Dark Horse)
  • Best Graphic Album: New - 1991 Elektra Lives Again (Marvel)
  • Best Graphic Album: Reprint - 1993 Sin City (Dark Horse), 1998 Sin City: That Yellow Bastard (Dark Horse)
  • Best Writer/Artist - 1991 for Elektra Lives Again (Marvel), 1993 for Sin City (Dark Horse), 1999 for 300 (Dark Horse)
  • Best Artist/Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team - 1993 for Sin City (Dark Horse)
  • Best Single Issue - 1986 Daredevil #227 "Apocalypse" (Marvel), 1987 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 "The Dark Knight Returns" (DC)
  • Best Graphic Album, 1987 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC)
  • Best Writer/Artist (single or team) - 1986 Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, for Daredevil: Born Again (Marvel)
  • Best Art Team - 1987 Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley, for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC)
  • Best Continuing or Limited Series - 1996 Sin City (Dark Horse), 1999 300 (Dark Horse)
  • Best Graphic Album of Original Work - 1998 Sin City: Family Values (Dark Horse)
  • Best Domestic Reprint Project - 1997 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, 10th Anniversary Edition (DC)
  • Palme d'Or - 2005 (nominated) Sin City (Dimension Films)

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