Nobody does blood splatter like Frank Miller.
Frank Miller (born January 27, 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 conservative 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 these prostitutes portrayed as sympathetic and strongly independent characters (except when they die), but that two of Frank's most famous creations are Elektra and Martha Washington. Others will point out that many think Elektra's best writing came after Miller, that Martha Washington ended up tangled up in Miller's personal views and that Miller tends to fall back on the same tropes when it comes to writing women. As you can see, it is not an easy topic.
He has won multiple Eisner, Kirby and Harvey Awards, as well as a nomination for the Palme 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.
- 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, turned former Spider-Man villain The Kingpin into Matt Murdock's 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)
- Spider-Man - Handled the art in two annuals of Amazing as well as a multi-part storyline in Spectacular Spider-Man in which a temporarily blinded Spider-Man teams up with Daredevil. This wound up being Miller's first work on the Man Without Fear.
- Holy Terror
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). Miller and Tom Wheeler co-wrote the young adult novel Cursed, which was turned into a Netflix series of the same name.
He's recently indicated he'd like to go against type and tackle Captain America, exploring Cap's idealism contrasted with the dark post-9/11 world. Considering how his previous major use of the character (Daredevil: Born Again, ironically enough) had Miller write some of Cap's most memorable moments (and lines, such as the immortal "I'm loyal to nothing, General... except the Dream.")... that might not be too bad of an idea.
Frank Miller's works contain examples of:
- The Adjectival Superhero: Created the first DC example with the God Damn Batman in All Star Batman and Robin.
- All Women Are Lustful: Or at least a member of The Oldest Profession. This has gotten Miller a lot flak in recent years.
- 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.
- His more recent works do show he may have gone downhill a bit as they are more scribbly, sketchy, and not very clean. It is not known if this is due to old age or if this is the direction his recent comics have wanted to go.
- 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 male heroes either.
- 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 Film 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.
- 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 Backlash: In 2018, he admitted to letting anger and hatred override his thinking when making Holy Terror and expressed regret over making it and comments he made around the same time related to it.
- Darker and Edgier: The general opinion is it worked with the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and did not work so well in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, though some people have suspected the latter is a 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.
- Emphasize EVERYTHING:
- Rare is the work by Miller that doesn't emphasize certain words and phrases for dramatic effect.
- His characters repeat themselves. They repeat themselves.
- Everyone Has Standards: He was absolutely disgusted with the call-in vote to kill off Jason Todd in A Death in the Family:An actual toll-free number where fans call in to put the axe to a little boy's head...to me the whole killing of Robin was probably the ugliest thing I've seen in comics, and the most cynical.
- Filibuster Freefall: Holy Terror, and Give Me Liberty.
- 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 religions (except for Islamism) 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). The second Sin City has him cameo with it.
- 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.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Or at least influences the setting; Miller was mugged twice on the streets of New York before beginning his Daredevil run. This probably helps to explain why the city is often seen as a crime-ridden pit.
- Refuge in Audacity: Particularly in his later works.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Very much on the Romantic side. His works glorify individual will, initiative and the greatness of unique events and acts over that of collective and larger scale historical and social forces. Miller is a fan of Ayn Rand and frequently sprinkles references to Objectivism in his work, most notably in Give Me Liberty
- 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.
- 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-Gray 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 both Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and The LEGO 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...
- However, he does seem to have softened on the Man of Tomorrow a bit in his old age. His miniseries Superman: Year One was overall a very respectful retelling of Superman's early years and gives back much (but not all) of the humanity that was missing from his characterization in Returns and its sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again. In fact, during their inevitable meeting, it's Batman who comes across as the unsympathetic and borderline-villainous one. Ultimately it seems Miller's opinion of Superman is shifting from 'ineffectual alien stooge' to 'ineffectual and alien, but by God he's trying.'
- He also stated that he dislikes Green Lantern and thinks of him as useless. It becomes quite apparent in his "All-Star Batman And Robin" comic series, when Hal Jordan is treated like crap by Batman and Robin almost kills him by accident.
- Frank also seems to have little, if any, respect for Superman.
- Those Wacky Nazis:
- Ultimate Universe: The Dark Knight Universe, officially known as Earth 31.
- Verbal Tic: Frank Miller loves his THROWBACKS to pulp DIALOGUE where people emphasize certain WORDS to make it sound IMPORTANT usually expressed in his characters' INNERMOST THOUGHTS along with REPETITION. Along with repetition.
- Vice City: Sin City, Gotham, Hell's Kitchen, etc.
- Wretched Hive: See above.