"With bloody hands, I say good-bye."—Frank Miller, asked to imitate Hemingway
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 recently been the center of controversy and has earned 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 - though many people like his works for the same reasons. Claims about the reasons for the decline in the quality of his work are the exaggeration of his signature style to ridiculous levels, too much emphasis on satire and his political views, exploration of particular storylines or premises to the detriment of characters, or just plain laziness as time has gone on. While his work today is generally considered below the level it was at height of his career, his fame is quite justified, as 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.
Nobody does blood splatter like Frank Miller.
Frank Miller has written the following comics, amongst others:
- Batman in general - The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, famously. All Star Batman and Robin and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, infamously. He writes Batman excellently - 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 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
Frank Miller is also known for writing RoboCop 2 and 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 (he didn't technically do any directing work, but the film's look was based so closely on his art that Rodriguez gave him credit). 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).
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.
- 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.
- 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 Grey Morality
- Charles Atlas Superpower
- Darker and Edgier: It works with the The Dark Knight Returns and fails miserably in All Star Batman and Robin - 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 the All Star Batman and Robin repeatedly consists of people repeating themselves repeatedly.
- Determinator: Marv, Martha Washington, and many others.
- Doing It for the Art
- Heroic Sociopath: Pretty much 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.
- Inner Monologue
- 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 role in Sin City (The Movie).
- Psycho for Hire
- Refuge in Audacity: Particularly lately.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Frank also seems to have little, if any, respect for Superman.
- Those Wacky Nazis: He seems to love making them look as stupid as possible, then killing them off in various brutal ways. Not that they don't deserve it...
- Give Me Liberty features the Aryan Thrust, a group of militant gay white supremacists.
- His Muslims are treated with about as much respect in Holy Terror. Then again, they are jihadists...
- Ultimate Universe: The Dark Knight Universe, officially known as Earth 31
- Vice City: Sin City, Gotham, Hell's Kitchen, etc.
- Wretched Hive: See above.