"With bloody hands, I say good-bye."
— Frank Miller
, when asked to imitate Hemingway
Nobody does blood splatter like Frank Miller.Frank Miller
(born 1957) is a comic book writer and artist, most famous for helping to popularize Batman's return to his dark and gritty roots. He specializes in gritty, over-the-top noir, and usually draws in an immediately recognizable style - replete with stark black-and-whites and often no color at all. Most of his work is narrated in first-person, usually by a macho Sociopathic Hero
. Pretty much all of his work is incredibly violent and bloody, sometimes to the point of Refuge in Audacity
. Could be described as the "Patron Saint of Badass
." His heroes will
be brutalized to the point of Heroic BSOD
, but they will also ultimately prove that a single Righteous
Badass is superior (or at least equal) to any number of evil mooks.
Miller has been the center of controversy and the hatred of a very vocal sector of the Internet population
, mostly due to his perceived over-representation of prostitutes, sadistic violence (seen as violence for the sake of it), and his libertarian and hawkish political views, although many people alternatively like his works for exactly those reasons
. Hence the fan conflicts. For instance, many people think his portrayal of prostitutes and female heroes implies a form of misogyny; however
, fans will point out that not only are said prostitutes portrayed as sympathetic and strongly independent characters, but that two of Frank's most famous creations are Elektra
and Martha Washington
He has won multiple Eisner, Kirby and Harvey Awards, as well as a nomination for the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Sin City
Frank Miller has worked on the following comics, amongst others:
- Batman in general - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, famously. All Star Batman and Robin and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, infamously. He writes Batman excellentlynote it's just that WMDs should be used to keep him away from non-Badass Normals.
- Daredevil- Whatever Frank Miller did for Batman, he did twice over for Daredevil, or so the saying (roughly) goes. Introduced nearly all of the major elements we associate with the character today, apart from the costume, the blindness and Bullseye, though the latter got some defining moments under his run too. In his run, Miller created Elektra and The Hand, added Spider-Man nemesis Kingpin as a new Arch-Enemy, made Catholicism a fundamental part of the character of Matt Murdock, added a bigger focus on martial arts in the combat and brought a noir sensibility to the storytelling that's stayed with the series ever since. See Daredevil: Born Again for the magnum opus of the run.
- Sin City
- Give Me Liberty and the various Martha Washington sequels (with Dave Gibbons)
- The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot and Hard Boiled (with Geof Darrow)
- Wolverine's first limited series (written by Chris Claremont)
Frank Miller is also known for writing RoboCop 2
and RoboCop 3
(though is at pains to point out both suffered from extensive Executive Meddling
). He also co-directed and wrote the film adaptation of Sin City
. And he's directed a movie adaptation of The Spirit
, which it may or may not have turned out well, depending on who you ask and whether or not they're fans of the Spirit's comics and Frank (The comics are actually very over-the-top like the movie, though Frank did add some of his signature grittiness).
Not to be confused with fellow comic book author Mark Millar
, or with the crook that tries to kill Will Kane in High Noon
(incidentally one of Miller's favourite films).
Frank Miller's works contain examples of:
- The Adjectival Superhero: Created the first DC example.
- All Women Are Lustful
- Art Evolution: Went from drawing in a somewhat generic way, to take more and more on to an original style. From Sin City onwards, his style would contain mostly large shadows and blocky figures, with a lot of large splash pages. His art has evolved, as now he's mostly known for large black and white ink brushes in his art. Mostly consider his art has become better, original and memorable. Others just find it plain horrible.
- Ascended Meme: The use of the word "goddamn" has seen a significant increase in his work since he gave us the Goddamn Batman.
- Author Appeal:
- Frank Miller seems to be a big fan of prostitutes, casting them in a few of his works. However, they are usually portrayed as sympathetic characters, albeit often homicidal and mentally unstable - not uncommon traits in Miller's heroes.
- And most recently, Patriotism. He credits the anniversary of 9-11 for creating his desire to write Holy Terror.
- He is a big fan of crime stories, particularly the noir genre. These elements can be found in all of his work.
- He is also a Japanophile. His Daredevil and Wolverine runs are responsible for adding the ninja-elements to these characters. Meanwhile, Ronin and Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot were huge homages to Japanese pop culture. Then there is Miho from Sin City.
- Badass Boast: "It was up to my generation to basically give Batman his balls back."
- Badass Normal: Batman, Martha Washington, most of the Sin City main characters.
- Black and Gray Morality: He has very few good guys in his stories and has stated that he finds them a little boring. The villains are even worse.
- Charles Atlas Super Power: Many of his characters have few, if any superpowers but that doesn't stop them from doing the impossible any way.
- Creator Breakdown: After witnessing the September 11th attacks firsthand, he's developed a quite disturbing hatred of Muslims.
- Darker and Edgier: It works with the The Dark Knight Returns and fails miserably in All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder - so miserably, it's a suspected Stealth Parody.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "I'm having a date with Bruce Wayne". "Dick Grayson, Age Twelve". In fact about half the dialogue in All Star Batman and Robin repeatedly consists of people repeating themselves repeatedly.
- Determinator: Marv, Martha Washington, and many others.
- Doing It for the Art: Even though he could've continued to work with Marvel and DC and gotten huge paychecks form them, he decided to go to lesser-known publishers so he could do some creator owned work with less pay.
- Heroic Sociopath: All his protagonists, Sin City's Marv in particular.
- Hollywood Atheist: Averted, actually. Despite being himself an atheist, he has been noted as generally writing all faiths, or lack thereof, with as much respect as anything else. Some religious heroes (Daredevil), some villains (Sin City). Daredevil is notable since Miller was the first writer to portray him as overtly Catholic, and made it a major part of his character.
- I Die Free: That's pretty much the Aesop of most of his independent work, particularly Bad Boy.
- Indecisive Parody: Much of his more recent work can come across as this, especially All Star Batman and Robin.
- Inner Monologue: Due to his noir roots.
- Monster Misogyny: Most of his villains in his Crime Stories. It usually ends with a Karmic Death so bad you almost feel bad for the bad guy. Almost.
- Nice Hat: Never seen without one, except for his small roles in RoboCop 2 and Sin City (The Movie).
- Psycho for Hire: Many of his villains have been assassins and hitmen. He is the man responsible for turning Dardevil villain Bullseye into the man he is today.
- Refuge in Audacity: Particularly in his later works.
- Running the Asylum: Any Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny that involves Batman.
- Self Plagiarism: In his story-arc Daredevil: Born Again, one of the Kingpin's lieutenants speaks with an excessive amount of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, which is played for laughs. He would later use the same type of gag when writing Shlubb and Klump (a.k.a. Fat Man and Little Boy) from Sin City.
- This may be a case of actual plagiarism, as there was an incredibly similar character in Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest. Much like Miller's character, he was a criminal with Delusions of Eloquence. Miller has, on more than one occasion, cited Hammett as an influence.
- He ripped some of Batman's internal monologue from ASB&R #5 from the first part of Dark Knight Returns. Similarly he ripped dialogue from the last page of Born Again for use in his Spirit movie ('It was a nice piece of work, Kingpin/Saref. You shouldn't have signed it').
- The final version of Holy Terror still reads like it was part of the Dark Knight-verse.
- Shout-Out: We know he likes Taxi Driver because there are tons of subtle references to the movie in his work, from stuff like All-Star Batman and Robin to Elektra: Assassin and The Dark Knight Returns
- We also see the Unfortunate Implications of making Batman too much like Travis Bickle in All-Star.
- The basic premise of Batman: Year One, from Gordon's side at least, is that of Serpico, one honest cop trying to do good in a system full of corrupt cops. In fact, one might call it Serpico with Batman.
- Sin City contains numerous shout outs and even an expy or two to pulp fiction and crime-noir stories.
- Ronin also contained shouts outs to samurai movies and anime.
- Signature Style: Usually Black and Grey Morality and a Bittersweet Ending at best. Artistically, he tends towards large expanses of black with just enough white and occasional splashes of color. He's one of the more recognizable comic artists out there.
- Super-Detailed Fight Narration
- Take That: Some have speculated that All Star Batman and Robin is a big insult to the people who complained that the Dark Knight Batman was too crazy, as perhaps evidenced by the line "You want nuts?! I'll show you nuts!" A close variant of this line occurs in Tim Burton's Batman movie.
- Frank also seems to have little, if any, respect for Superman.
- Dark Knight Returns was a fairly respectful Superman treatment. Took the view of "Superman is a good guy, but won't step outside the law / civilian authority structures like Batman will". Which isn't too unfair. Then Superman breaks his Thou Shall Not Kill rule to kill dirty communists, nearly gets killed by a nuke *even though he's been surviving nukes since 1947, and basically turning Superman into an energy vampire...
- Those Wacky Nazis:
- Ultimate Universe: The Dark Knight Universe, officially known as Earth 31.
- Vice City: Sin City, Gotham, Hell's Kitchen, etc.
- Wretched Hive: See above.