There are sixteen panels I can put in this grid. Six are televisions, three are flashbacks, six are close-ups of objects falling through space. The other one... hurts.
October 26, 2012 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Away From Human Memory: Editing And Composition In Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns'
posted by Artw (17 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also a great CA piece on The Dark Knight Returns:

Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are bookends, but not to each other. They're in the other order: DKR is the ending of everything that came before it, and Year One is the start of something new, the version of Batman that we have today.
posted by Artw at 8:54 PM on October 26, 2012


Every post about Frank Miller and his work now gets an obligatory comment linking to his infamous blog post, and maybe a link to a summary article.
Because everyone who enjoyed his dystopic vision of the world should know where it was coming from.
Because it hurts.
posted by clarknova at 8:56 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every post about Frank Miller and his work now gets an obligatory comment linking to his infamous blog post, and maybe a link to a summary article.

I haven't clicked on your links, yet, but I think I can handle it because (a) I already knew that Miller was a bit of a right-wing crank, and (b) I've managed to keep appreciating Cerebus despite all of Dave Sim's batshit ways. Still, I've been careful about these kinds of revelations since Orson Scott Card.
posted by Edgewise at 9:36 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much of the post 9/11 fuckibg crazy Frank Miller is in Dark Knight Returns?

On the one hand, it's got this whole 80s vigilante movie thing going on, the nietzchian ubermenche battle wave after wave of rapists, scumbos, muggers and crooks.

In the other... It's almost like The Wire in the extent that it shows every conceivable social institution as inherently fucked and the rot going to the top. It's questionable if that guy is still around.

The little vox pop panel where some guy is singing Batman's praises and then then unwittingly sours it with "he should go after the homos next" - I don't think he could write that now.
posted by Artw at 9:41 PM on October 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


The little vox pop panel where some guy is singing Batman's praises and then then unwittingly sours it with "he should go after the homos next" - I don't think he could write that now.


Actually, Miller could write that- he would just be serious. I don't think any bit of right-wing lunacy is past Miller at this point, he's out there in Orson Scott Card land.
posted by happyroach at 9:54 PM on October 26, 2012


Every post about Frank Miller and his work now gets an obligatory comment linking to his infamous blog post

He mentions something called "the occupy movement"... what is that?
posted by gertzedek at 10:06 PM on October 26, 2012


[This isn't actually an Occupy post, so let's avoid a derail there, please. And while there's always some room for discussion of an artist's RL beliefs and actions, especially in terms of how it informs their art, attempts to hijack every single thread about them to rant about their politics isn't cool, and please don't do that.]
posted by taz at 10:42 PM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Before I read this article, I would have been willing to bet cash money that Robocop came before DKR. I would have been wrong.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:07 PM on October 26, 2012


Nice to see the callout to Flagg.
posted by mwhybark at 11:19 PM on October 26, 2012


Miller did some truly fantastic work in the 80's. That his brain turned into mush in the 90's doesn't diminish my appreciation for his old work, it just makes me sad that he'll never again write something as good as Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: Year One or TDKR.
posted by martinrebas at 8:41 AM on October 27, 2012


Arkham Rising
posted by homunculus at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2012


Before I read this article, I would have been willing to bet cash money that Robocop came before DKR. I would have been wrong.

And now thanks to the DarK Knight Returns animated movie you can get Robocop reciting Batmans lines from DKR verbatim in a slightly stilted manner!
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2012


Miller's use of composition and design to tell the story can be quite extraordinary. Looking at Sin City recently, I had many "Wow!" moments. Despite the slavishness of Rodriguez' fidelity to the books, he can't achieve the same power in film that Miller did with exactly the same effects in ink. Same thing with 300 and the film of that.

But parts of Sin City are simultaneously astonishingly beautiful and at the same time really, really, really... not beautiful. Ugh.

Did someone decide that 80s comic book creators had to decide between ritual magic and complete insanity? The magicians made the right choice, I think.
posted by Grangousier at 12:28 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who won the 80s?
posted by Artw at 1:07 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like I always repeat this when TDK comes up, but the original issues came out exactly concurrent with Watchmen's original run, and also the first run Love and Rockets stuff. There was one day in which I left the comic shop with original distro issues of The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and the issue of Love and Rockets which includes "The Death of Speedy," as I recall it.

An aspect of both Watchmen and TDK in original serialized distibution was that both creative teams were absolutely competing with one another to create the single darkest cliffhanger ending to a comic book ever. That whole year, anyone who cared about comics had release dates circled, anticipating the nameless depths of stygian horror that awaited.

Jaime's "Death of Speedy" was clearly a part of this dialog. One of the hallmarks of the style was the panel-count as narrative pacing device, and as events on the page slowed and heightened in intensity, dialog fell away, often to be punctuated with a climactic reaction frame which was larger and more still than the preceding panel sets.

Watchmen, of course, varies page layout much less than TDK, but clearly uses cuts or repetion within the nine-panel layout to control timeflow, and equally clearly uses the panels-to-fullpage-on-turned-page technique.

Jaime ended his story on a standard panel-page layout, facing the interior cover of the issue. The interior cover was printed a full-bleed pure black. The design choice carried the reader into the mourning emotional state of his protagonist (Maggie, again iirc). It brought tears to my eyes.

Then, when you closed the issue, flipping that full-bleed black closed, the back cover was a full-page color drawing of Speedy y sus vatos, full of life and laughter. It kept you in the protagonist's headspace but functioned as a smashcut to months later, after the mouring had attenuated. It was virtuoso, amazing, beautiful, human.

It was also, no question, an answer record to TDK and Watchmen. Who needs heroes? We have Hoppers.
posted by mwhybark at 3:58 PM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see someone to Marathon right, either in comics or on film. It was the first victory of the Greeks over the Persians, the one that proved it was possible to fight back. It really was a fight for freedom (the Spartans stayed home), the triumph of a coalition of democratic states under a democratically elected general against the most powerful empire on earth, the victory of a ragtag free militia over the professional soldiers of the invading army. Tell me that's not a story. The legendary 26 mile run of Pheidippides which we commemorate at the Olympics is just the icing on the cake.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:30 PM on October 27, 2012


When I think of Miller's work from TDK onward, I think of a description I read years ago comparing Moore and Miller -- Moore is an anarchist, while Miller is a former liberal who's been mugged. That anger at the perceived flaws of liberals and vindictive attitude towards perpetrators - that's as judgemental as old horror comics, where anyone who transgresses is punished and how.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:39 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


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