Frank Miller is a writer first and foremost, but he’s also a director, a drawer and inker of comics and has influenced a great many writers in a long and varied career. I was first exposed to him in junior high when I came across what is now his masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns. Many people have come across his work without even knowing it. He wrote the script treatments for RoboCop 2 and 3 and the movies Sin City and 300 were based on his works. But perhaps his greatest claim to fame was The Dark Knight Returns. Originally released as a four issue mini-series, his story of an older much more apathetic and darker batman essentially changed the way people looked at comic books. While many fans of the medium knew that comics were much more than children’s books, it’s Miller’s Dark Knight (along with Allan Moore’s Watchmen) that opened the eyes to those on the outside looking in. The books showed that true literary talent, genius and stories of a deeper and broader perspective could be told within the illustrated pages of comic books.
It was Miller’s Dark Knight that brought Batman back from the much more laid back and camp character he had been from the sixties and for many years after. It made Batman relevant again and is more than likely responsible for the slew of Batman movies featuring a dark and complicated character in a world just as dark and complicated. While I’ve read many of his works since then, it was The Dark Knight Returns, and Miller’s style overall which stayed with me, inspired me and help light the creative flame within me (though I didn’t know it at the time). It was the grittiness and complexity of the worlds he creates and the characters that reside in them. The stylish narrative which he uses in many of his works that’s a throwback to film noirs from a bygone age add a depth that make the story run through the pages you read at a brief pace. His stories are beautiful, tragic, dark, violent (incredibly so at times) funny, and hyper realistic. There are times where he overshoots his mark as a writer and goes outside his range or capabilities, but credit is given to him for even attempting such a thing.
His later works to date don’t have quite the impact on me as his earlier ones nor are they stylistically amazing as the ones from days gone by, but they’re still better than what many have to offer. Those interested in his work, I strongly STRONGLY suggest picking up a paperback version of The Dark Knight Returns (the original four issue mini-series is incredibly hard to find, not to mention cost a lot of money to buy), Sin City and the paper back version of Batman: Year One so you too can experience the best of this revolutionary writer.