. . . because if you were to pierce the fabric of spacetime and ask eleven year old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer “Frank Miller.” Go back a little further to Coles Books at the Seaview Square Mall just before Christmas in 1986 and you’ll know why – there, in the science fiction section, stands a wide-eyed boy reading a book unlike anything, ever. That boy was me. This is the book:
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns made me want to create. This was a classic superhero presented in a manner that was bold and new. I was too young to truly appreciate everything Miller was doing, and there are plenty of resources available that deconstruct the work, but upon reading it again, for the first time in about 20 years, I can see how it made its way into the pages I write. My penchant for “talking heads” scenes is a direct correlation to the repeated television screens used throughout Dark Knight Returns, only without the subtext that the newscasters, experts and pundits bring to Miller’s work. Early in my writing I tried to jam as many panels onto a page as possible, subliminally borrowing from the 16 panel grid layout Miller used to heighten the sense of a claustrophobic Gotham City. I just didn’t know how to tell a story.
As a kid, the grand vision of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was lost on me. What wasn’t lost on me were the images – iconic and beautiful.
Like this, the Dark Knight ready for battle:
Or the Dynamic Duo leaping through the night:
And of course the simple cover from Issue #1:
But the image that stuck with me the most was this page, and what Bruce says before dying:
Followed by Superman cradling the body of his fallen friend, telling the soldiers “Don’t touch him.”
This is the type of book I wanted, and still want, to create, and every time I sit in front of another blank page, eleven year old me appears as a reminder that I will never be able to “touch” this masterwork from Frank Miller.
But that doesn't mean I can't try.
One page at a time.