Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy 55th Birthday, Frank Miller!

Frank Miller has become a lightning rod lately because of his incendiary comments about the Occupy Movement in the US, and he is probably best known now for his comics works turned blockbuster movies Sin City and 300.

Miller has been closely related to two large comics properties, Daredevil and Batman, and his work on both characters has been seen widely as being definitive and noteworthy. He created and introduced the character Elektra into Daredevil's stories and wrote crime drama type stories that reinvigorated the series into one of Marvel's top titles. Two collaborations with artist David Mazzucchelli, Daredevil: Born Again and Batman: Year One, are considered modern classics and are perennial bestsellers.

His comics work is also notable because he was one of the first mainstream American artists to draw on Japanese influences in his work, from the martial arts and ninja stories in Daredevil to the manga style of his limited series Ronin, a dystopian future story about a reincarnated samurai warrior. Another of his miniseries for DC, The Dark Knight Returns, chronicles the adventures of an older, broken down Batman and was pivotal in a movement towards more realistic and grim American superhero comics.

Miller parlayed his comics work to Hollywood, where he worked on movies such as the sequels Robocop 2 and 3. After disillusionment with these films, Miller returned to comics working on creator-owned properties such as Give Me Liberty, another dystopian future series starring Martha Washington, the noir influenced Sin City, and the epic 300 that adapted the story of the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae. Most recently, he published Holy Terror, a controversial and bombastic Batmanesque superhero story where the protagonist goes up against Al Qaeda.

In recent years, Miller was lured back to Hollywood where he co-directed the adaptation of his Sin City stories and also had great input on the 300 movie. Both films lean heavily on Miller's artistic style and are very closely linked visually to the comics. Miller went on to write and direct an adaptation of the classic Will Eisner character The Spirit, but that movie was not very well received. Currently he is is working on a Sin City sequel.

A multiple Eisner, Kirby, and Harvey Award winning creator, Frank Miller's influence on American comics has been great. Furthermore, his current work continues to entertain and rankle many readers and viewers.

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