Saturday, February 4, 2017


It's hard to imagine what path my life might have taken if I hadn't been exposed to the work of writer/artist Frank Miller in the 1980s. During his creative explosion Miller redefined Daredevil as a dramatic Noir saga with Japanese-influenced Ninja and panel design. He also wrote an epic Samurai sci-fi adventure called Ronin, inspired by the work of Moebius and Goseki Kojima. Fans also included Kevin Eastman, who went on to co-create the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My deep interests in Japan (I lived there in '85 and then between '88-'91) and in the comic arts were really fueled during those bus rides back to boarding school from Moondance Comics in Brattleboro, Vermont. Tucked under the arch in Harmony Parking lot back in the day, Moondance was my oasis and steady supplier of glossy bliss. I never knew when issues were coming out, so every Saturday I signed up for the "Bratt-trip," hoping to follow up on Miller's cliffhangers. I have so many vivid memories of reading his comics on the bus back to school. We weren't allowed TV back then, and these comic characters really came to life and inhabited my imagination for years. Each episode in his stories was incredibly dynamic and thrilling. And by the time I got back to school, I was already thrown into great suspense and eager for the next installment. These were the days before binge-consumption, when we could keep stories alive and vital for months and months. The death of Elektra and the first chapter of Ronin are forever imprinted in my inner landscape. My mind can replay the images in total, as if I had watched Miller's stories up on the film screen, rather than as a series of panels on paper. He was a genius! Of course, his Batman book, The Dark Knight Returns, was yet another masterpiece, and it changed the direction of Batman for all time. Miller is currently publishing a new installment in his growing series of Dark Knight sagas. I got to meet Frank Miller twice. The first time was rather rushed, but it was at the height of my Miller-mania. He stopped by Mort Walker's Cartoon Art Museum when in was in Port Chester (a cool castle location!), and he spoke to a small audience about his various projects. I had some copies of his books to sign, but Brian Walker whisked him out of the room at the end. It all worked out well, though. Brian and I eventually became friends and I wrote the Conversations series book about his dad, Mort. And I met Frank Miller again at the first MoCCA festival in NYC. Although I spent most of my time there with Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), I also had a drawing made by Klaus Janson, which both he and Miller signed. I've recently been looking back at Miller's Daredevil and Ronin covers and letting my mind sift through the memories. I have so much to thank him for! Below: some iconic images from Daredevil, Ronin, and Wolverine (art), and Frank Miller talking about his work in 1987. Enjoy!

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