Frank Miller: Transformation of the Medium, From Comic
Book Artist to Motion Picture Director.
Creating a comic book, like making a motion picture is ultimately about telling a story. The nature of the comic book and motion picture industries puts a certain amount of pressure on an author to see his or her vision through to the end of production. The creation of comic books and films is very much a collaborative act. Comic books like the motion picture medium require many roles to complete a project. Simply look at the title pages on any comic book and you see credits for a writer, penciler, inker, colorist, letterer, editor and editor-in-chief. The same can be seen as you watch the credits roll at the end of a movie. A few authors however have made an effort to control the comic book and film making processes by establishing close visionary relationships with their collaborators.
Will Eisner, considered a founding father of American comic book art, noted that- “The comic book form has suffered greatly because the discipline has been broken into an assembly line process. The best work is done by one author”.
Frank Miller, a student of Will Eisner, has taken this idea to heart in his own professional work in the comic book industry. Miller, like Eisner, is at his best both an author and an artist. This has allowed him to explore his own vision of what the comic book medium can produce. Utilizing the franchised characters of the big two publishers, Marvel and DC, Miller was able to establish a popular fan base and eventually transform the medium. Collaborating with ground breaking artists in the field allowed Miller to explore and expand the traditional art of comic book story telling. Few comic book artists are able to comment on pop culture, social morality and politics as Miller has. When he found the industry’s codes too confining for his vision, he boldly chose to move to the independent publishers as a way of exploring expressive boundaries. As an artist, Frank Miller always seeks new directions for storytelling, and because of its graphic and narrative qualities, film making has become his most recent pursuit. As a film director, Miller faces many challenges in defining his own authorship throughout the process. His success will be found in continuing his close collaborative efforts with artists in the field who share his vision to produce signature work.
This exhibition curated by UWM Libraries Assistant Head Systems Librarian Andy Ritter, and drawn principally from the comic book collection in the Special Collections Department, explores the translation of Frank Miller’s comic book vision into motion pictures and the comic book artist into motion picture director.