it’s Miller time
If you ask today’s top comic artists and aficionados about the art of Batman, one name crops up time and again…
“Frank Miller’s astounding one-two punch combo of The Dark Knight Returns and Year One with David Mazzucchelli was a key moment in Batman’s history,” says Jonathan Duran of Comicsastonish.com. “Both of these stories managed to refocus the character and took all the gravitas that people were once again beginning to ignore and put it under a magnifying glass, cementing – for better or for worse – a darker take on the character.”
In the first of Frank’s two ground-breaking graphic novels, The Dark Knight Returns looks at an older Batman as he comes out of retirement, cynical and disappointed with the world around him. It was written and drawn by Frank.
Year One, meanwhile, was written by Frank but pencilled by David and was originally printed in Batman issues 404 to 407. It takes a look at the damaged psyche of the young Bruce Wayne as his parents are murdered. The ambition in the writing, and in the artwork, brought maturity and creative credibility not just to Batman but to comic books in general. It inspired artists and made them crave working on a Batman title.
Tony S Daniel agrees. “I remember seeing Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and being blown away,” he says. “I always like Batman to be drawn rather big however, so I think I gravitate towards the imagery of Frank Miller. But I try to keep in mind that I don’t want to look like my influences.”
Tony continues: “When people tell me my work reminds them of Frank Miller, that’s not what I’m going for. I’m always looking to craft my take on Batman to be the most natural for me.” Jerry Bingham’s artwork for the graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon was in progress in 1986 when The Dark Knight Returns came out. Although he’s always admired the Neal Adams Batman the most, he instantly knew that Frank’s work was a game changer.
“Frank altered Batman forever,” says Jerry. “His isn’t a drawing style I’d seek to emulate, but I remember as I was working on Son of the Demon, getting those first issues of The Dark Knight Returns in the mail and being astounded by what I was reading. I knew it was breaking new ground in many ways.”
THE DARK KNI GHT RIDE S AGAIN
ACHE S AND PAIN S Written by Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzucchelli,
Year One shed new darkness on Batman’s origins. Frank Miller couldn’t resist having his knight on horseback in The Dark Knight storyline in 1986. Frank’s Batman is older and chunkier, and pays for his acrobatics the following day.