Wednesday, 31 December 2008

#2 Frank Miller: Artist Turned Director

With Frank Miller’s new film The Spirit set for release with in the week, something hit me. How did a comic book artist become a director and producer? By no means I am I saying that I think he should denounce his new found passion for film making, but I was curious as to if this will become a trend for other comic book writers and artist to become directors?

Frank Miller set out from Only, Maryland (USA) into the world to become an artist and ended up in comic book. After working on several Marvel and DC comic’s such as Spider-Man, he got his big break with Marvel’s Daredevil (Daredevil #158, May 1979). In 1986, Miller and DC comics release a small four part comic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns which along with Alan Moore’s Watchmen defined a new type of comic books… the graphic novel.

Ok, I hear what your saying, “what do comic books have to do with films? And why am I still reading this?” Well bare with me for a second. In 1990, Miller stared in RoboCop 2, even though he was uncredited Miller got an inside view on film making. Years later in 2003 he had another small part in Daredevil and put him self in Sin City which he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids). After the huge success of the graphic novels, Sin City final deserved its cinematic debut.

In 2005 Troublemaker Studios and Miramax studios joined to make Sin City with Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller and guest directions by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs). Whilst it got positive reviews I think it got a lot of audiences to get back into reading comics and graphic novels and got Frank Miller noticed by the non-comic book audiences. With a fantastic line up of actors the film really did the graphic novel justice and it’s one of the few comic book adaptations that look’s like the comic books.

Then a little director called Zack Snyder (Dawn Of The Dead) came calling and wrote the screenplay (along with Kurt Johnstad and Michael B Gordon) for on of Miller’s earlier graphic novels 300. This time though Miller didn’t have a hand at directing but was one of the producers. The film once again was a success (especially with the online community) and it was also true to the book which adaptations lack these days, take I Am Legend (book by Richard Matheson).

Is it coincidence that the films the Miller have worked on are true to their origin or will his luck run out? Could it be because he is a comic book artist so that’s what he brings to film making? Is Miller a one track pony or will he eventually stop doing comic book adaptations and try a different genre like horror perhaps? After his latest work The Spirit comes out can we see if he will keep true to the 1940’s comic, I think even that will be hard to pull of?

The Spirit, released on 1st Jan 09 (UK release)

Oliver Hunt
31st December 2008

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