Sunday, December 7, 2014

Get well soon Frank Miller! A tribute.

It appears that Frank has become very sick in recent years. I haven’t found any news about it on line but there are pictures going around of him using canes to walk and even a wheel chair. He is only 57 but he looks old beyond his years.
Frank, You have brought so much joy to my life and so many others lives that I just want to let you know how much your work has meant to me and wish you all the best, and to...
Get well soon Frank Miller!
As a young comic enthusiast in the 80’s I eagerly bought everything that you produced. Me and my friend had our copy of your Ronin graphic novel that we proudly displayed on our coffee table. this was a time when comics were still thought of as kiddy fare and yet we put it out there to let everyone know that we proudly read them and that we were ready to challenge anyone's notions of what comics were and Ronin was our proof.

Rōnin is a six issue limited series that was published between 1983 and 1984, by DC Comics with story and art by Frank Miller with artwork painted by Lynn Varley.
I found the artwork in it so inspiring. It wasn't so much that you created a lot of pretty pictures, though they were very nice, but rather you have a way of sequencing the pictures so that as your eyes scanned the page they would tell you a story.

This sequence from Book Three wonderfully illustrates Miller's abilities at telling a story with his images. He gives new meaning to the term "sequential art".
More than anyone else, your work was truly sequential art. You didn't need all those distracting word balloons or fancy highly detailed pictures to tell a story. Your concise series of images went to the heart of the matter and actually spoke to us more than any group of words could. Your comics were true comics that actually explored what could be done with pictures and words.

But Frank, you were no one-hit-wonder. You gave us so many masterpieces in the comics medium. Your Batman Year One is still one of my favorite works ever created.

Batman: Year One, is a story arc that originally appeared in issues #404 to #407 of DC Comics' Batman in 1987 which was written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, with colors by Mazzucchelli's partner, Richmond Lewis, and lettered by Todd Klein.

Why DC Comics didn’t initially give it the deluxe format treatment that it deserves, I’ll never know. They didn’t even give it it’s own mini series. Instead they slipped it in the regular Batman title, in Batman #404 to #407. And in my naiveté, I thought there was a chance that you would continue writing the series after this stellar four parter. Year One was just a teaser for me. I wanted to see how things developed between Batman and this new, exciting Catwoman.

In this sequence from Batman #406 shows Miller's new Catwoman as Batman helps her out with some mutual foes.

With characterizations this good, I desperately wanted to see what your Joker would look like! I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I discovered Sam Hamm was writing Batman #408, the next issue after your series. Then to add insult to injury, DC Comics, in there infinite wisdom got Barr and McFarlane to do a  Batman Year Two.
It's rude to tease us this way, dangling your juicy depiction of one of the all-time great villains in front of our face and pulling away before we actually see him! Ah yes, we got your depiction of him in the Dark Knight, which, thank you, I am grateful for, but it’s not really the same.

I was such a fan of your work that when I saw the Dark Knight advertised I sent off my check for a mail subscription.

This is an add that appeared in DC Comics that were dated May 1986 asking for subscriptions to the Dark Knight Returns.

DC Comics mailed out the subscriptions late. I can remember going to my local comic shop and seeing it on the wall before I received my copy in my mail. I started to panic that my copy would come at all. I think the comic shops under ordered it because it was an expensive $2.95 versus the normal .75 cents that comics sold for and it was so eagerly awaited by fandom that the comic shops marked it up almost as soon as it arrived. I really sweated those days and weeks while I waited for my book to arrive. I think this was the most anxious I have ever been waiting for something in the mail. Then, one day, out of the blue, it just arrived. And not just the first issue, but Book 1 AND Book 2 together!

The Dark Knight Returns is a 1986 DC Comics prestige format, four-issue limited series about Batman in his waning years, as written and drawn by Frank Miller, with finishes by Klaus Janson, and painted by Lynn Varley.

I was so thrilled. I ran inside, tore open the packages and I eagerly skimmed through the books. there was a feeling of deep satisfaction coursing through my body as I flipped through the pages. Then, as I eagerly scanned the inside front cover I noticed something odd on it, a very small  translucent sticker was taped over part of the indicia that had two words printed on it, “SECOND PRINTING”. You can’t imagine the sheer frustration going through my young comic collector mind as I realized that the MINT copy of one of the hottest books in years that I paid my hard earned money for was an worthless SECOND PRINTING edition. My diamond had turned into a cubic zirconia and my joy into deep disappointment. 

For the next few days I tried to formulate my plan of attack. What kind of threat could I make to get those precious books that I could have bought in the store but waited for them in the mail. And as I deliberated on the subject over the weeks a miracle happened. On a regular day no different than any other I went to the mail and to my delight, inside was a copy of Dark Knight Book 1 and Book 2… FIRST PRINTING! It seems I wasn't the only one plotting the demise of DC Comics for their slight because without having done anything DC had sent me two new books. So now I not only had a complete set of the Dark Knight, FIRST PRINTING, but I had reader copies of Book 1 and Book 2. It looks like I lucked out on that deal.

I remember when your Elektra Lives Again graphic novel came out to little fanfare, it was a bitter sweet moment for me. The art was stunning. I always loved when you inked your own art. Here you gave space to your art and really let it sing. You hadn't done such beautiful work since Ronin. And Lynn Varley was as good or better than ever with her coloring creating this beautiful atmosphere and mood. Though Elektra Lives Again was primarily an art piece as the story was serviceable. 

Elektra Lives Again is a 1990 graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley that was published through the Marvel Comics imprint Epic Comics.
It was becoming increasingly obvious to me that it was the end of an era, that all the amazing work that was coming out of the 80's had reached it's end. When you left mainstream comics I kind of lost interest in comics all together for a while there. I couldn’t really stomach the direction the new comics were going. Moore left DC and the new Image (over substance) boys were raging it on the X-Mutant titles picking up the superficial bad boy qualities of your work but never really comprehending the first thing about things like characterization or story telling. I felt I was leaving a sinking ship and in hind sight I wasn’t half wrong.

Anyway, your work meant the world to me then. It got me through my high school years when I had to suffer my dense piers and their stupid antics. Your comics gave me something to get excited about and look forward to, stoked my lifelong passion in comics. You introduced me to greats like Moebius and Goseki Kojima and I thank you for that as well.
Moebius (above left) and Kojima (above right) were big influences on Miller's work, especially his Ronin.
You made my life a little better and I just would like to thank you for that.

Thanks Frank and get well soon!
Ronin review by Kim Thompson

Ronin review by David Brothers

1 comment:

  1. Here's hoping Frank is recoveringwell and prospers well for another few decades! Awesome post with so much detail thank you