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…

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“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

YEAR ONE

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.

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