Mr Miller, like most others here your work has consistently blown me away in one form or another, and I have a few questions I'd love to hear the answers to:
Are you reading modern comics? If so, who/what are you enjoying/disliking?
As Sin City 2 has new stories in it, do you plan on releasing them as comics/a graphic novel?
To cap off, your art style is incredible, and has beautifully stood the test of time. Thank you for entertaining me and countless others!
1) I enjoy a variety of comics. Most notably I'd say anything by Jeff Smith. His old series Bone and his new series RASL. It's a real side that Jeff is beginning to explore. He's out-charmed everybody, now it's time for him to try something else. Other comics I read are Hellboy by Mike Mignola, and lots of the new stuff, lots of the work of people like James kochalka. He's one of the new herd that are approaching comics without the prejudices my generation came in with. So because they are making all sorts of things that my generation would call mistakes, that were trained not to do, these are young artists without prejudice and I would say (to be fair) they do about 80% of it wrong and about 20% of it brilliantly. I'm learning all kinds of things from 'em.
2) Well, right now I consider it a story told. And I never intended Sin City to be a movie, as a matter of fact, it was done when I was a typically embittered screenwriter who swore I would never work in movies again, but swore I would adapt the unadaptable into film. This crazy man from Texas hunted me down like a dog to adapt it to a technology that I didn't realize existed, and we were able to create a movie that is almost half-animation. A lot of it is drawn, and the actors are all real, so it has that anchor, it's a realistic movie even though the backgrounds are extremely stylized, and the effect is much closer to Fritz Lang than to anything currently coming out. This freed us, in Sin City 2, to take everything a bit further because the first movie was a success. And so the new movie is MORE stylized. It's in 3D. But a very unusual 3D, because it's amazing what B&W can do to 3-D. Unlike much color 3D, you never feel trapped by the frame. It feels much more self-contained. And as with B&W, the 3D shows off the actors beautifully.
Hey Frank. What is your opinion of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy?
I have a habit that I've developed over the years, which is to deliberately avoid any character in film that I've done in comics. Because I developed my own taste in them, and my own opinion of them so deeply, that I will hate it. They could do Citizen Kane and I would find something wrong with it. So I simply don't go to 'em.!
I’m a big fan and thanks for doing this AMA!
I have a few different questions:
Will you have a cameo in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill for?” And what do you think about Eva Green’s poster for the film being censored by the MPAA?
I’ve met a few comic artists and writers that were surprised that various celebrities asked for THEIR autographs. Some examples included David Bowie and Gene Simmons – have you had any similar experiences where a celebrity asked for your autograph?
Lastly what is your favorite written and drawn comic book story? Thanks for your time Mr. Miller.
Oh yea, two cameos in fact. One very minor, where I get buffeted by shards of broken glass and another Robert Rodriguez and I do it as a surprise, as two thugs who end up committing suicide. It's very short, it's very sweet and it's very funny if you know us, because we both stay very much in the character we perform on film. We perform as we are making the film.
I think anyone who has a problem with seeing Eva Green's breasts should probably see a shrink.
Yes but usually for relatives. My nephew would like a copy of Sin City signed, or a given page that was their favorite signed, that sort of thing, and yeah, with Dark Knight, everybody asked me to sign that. I think there are only about 3 copies out there of Dark Knight that I haven't signed.
That's tough, because we are talking about 75 years of history. I list among them Will Eisner's The Spirit, the title was Sans Serif (I remember reading it when I was al title kid on my bicycle, I would go out on Wednesdays and buy comics at the local drugstore - back then there were no comic shops, and I found a strange comic that was just unusual, it was a different size,a different price, and I picked it up out of curiosity, I wound up stopping under a streetlight and reading the first story in it which was san Serif and I was immediately transported. I thought "Who was this new guy? He's brilliant, I can learn so much from this guy." And the copyright on it was 1947. He was that far ahead of his time back in the early days of WWII. He was my mentor and we got to know each other quite well over the years and he taught me a great many things. We had a 25 years argument. Every conversation, we'd be arguing about things like the use of word balloons or panel gutters, and these things that were nothing to most people, but we would argue in very loud voices, him being a Bronx Zoo and me being an Irish Catholic, we were very loud arguers. And every argument would end with him ramming his hand against the table and standing and saying "I don't know why I even *talk * to you anymore. That went on for 25 years) I dearly love him and I can't describe how much I learned from him.
First of all, I absolutely love your work. The Dark Knight Returns was the thing that got me really into Batman.
Obviously Batman’s a very popular character. In the spirit of his 75 year anniversary, what do you think it is about this paranoid, obsessive crimefighter that makes him so likeable?
It's a variety of things, really. But mainly it's in a way he's a superhero naked, in that he is plainly out for revenge, so much so that he actually dresses like a villain, and throws bad guys through windows, there's all kinds of rough and tumble stuff. I was also in love with the idea of a character that could not fly. The man needed a car to get around. And he got by on wits and skill alone. That's why I couldn't resist having him beat the crap out of Superman just once, i had to see that just once. You kind of have to be of a mind to like that sort of a character. But Batman is also so personable. You could do him 20 different ways, and they could all work. He's like a giant diamond. You could slam him against the floor, throw him against the ceiling, but you can't hurt it. Everything from the Adam West TV show to my stuff and dozens of others, Jerry Robertson, each contributed to this ongoing myth that has survived and been revitalized on an ongoing basis.
Hi Mr. Miller,
First off, I absolutely adore your work from both a written and visual standpoint. Reading Dark Knight Returns and Born Again were why I got back into comics. Thank you for that.
Two questions: 1) have you ever thought about coming back to Marvel to do one more Daredevil story? 2) what motivates you to keep writing in moments where you're not sure what to write next?
1) Oh yeah, characters never leave me. I would still love to another Elektra story, another Batman story. These characters, the ones who've lasted the test of time, there's a reason. And that's because they are so versatile and they have so much dimension to them, that there's always more to discover. I try to create characters like that, like Elektra, and the same thing with Sin City - I don't think anybody who watched the Sin City movies - boy, I love saying that with an S on the end!- I don't think anybody who watches the Sin City movies will forget who Marv is.
2) Well, if I don't know what to write next, I stop writing, because the way I work on my stories is much like William Goldman advised, which was to begin with a premise, with something unusual that's in your mind, and then to go straight to writing the ending, and where the character is headed. So what I do is I begin with the barest of openings, then I write a very complete ending, and then I fill in all the steps in between.
What is the best advice that has been given to you in your career?
I love to quote Kurt Vonnegut here without attributing it to him. He was asked what advice he would give new writers, and he said "never use semicolons." He was being funny but he was accurate. The best advice I received was probably from Neil Adams, the artist, and he looked at my work when I was an amateur, he was one of my earliest teachers, and he just looked at the work pieces, which was usually done in Comic Book Land because he was publishing back in the 70s when people were very rough on you. And he just said to me "artists are people who know how things work." And that stuck with me. That if I was going to draw something, I had better know how it was drawn together. Including something as virtually impossible as the human body. We've got a LOT of movable parts. And each has a very different function. But getting back to the advice thing, there was also the advice that Will Eisner gave me, which was "never lose track, the story is the thing. The story is all that matters, and everything you do should be in service of the story." Too often you'll read something, prose or comics or you'll go to movies, and you'll get the impression that the writer really didn't think it through or do the research. It's important to do the research, I've got a studio that's chock full of everything from toy figurines to toy clothing to toy guns and I own more than 200 die-cast metal cars, because that way I can draw from anything I want to. Same with the guns and the people and everything else.
I'm super excited for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Its been to long!
My question... What is one superhero or villain you have always wanted to write for but have never had the chance?
Oooh. That's a tough one. It changes a lot. Sometimes I love minor characters like the Flash or The Atom, he's a hero who gets small, atomic sized, if he wants to. They've all funky powers that serve them well, same way they all run around in their underwear. They've done all the ones I like the best. I love what they've done with Iron Man, I love what they've done with Captain America. Captain America would probably be the one I would most want to do.
How does it feel having your books adapted into films?
Well, like I told you before, I'm very, very obsessive when I create a character. So I generally hate it. Through no fault of the authors. It becomes their property once they are doing it. I just tend to get stuck on our version. But the ones I like best tend to be the ones that stick closest to my versions.
How do you feel about Superman? People have an idea that you only see him like TDKR portrayed him.
Well, you think of the ancient gods, which is really where these characters all come from. It's really strange that a bunch of American Jews imitated a bunch of greek heroes to create the new superhero. They changed because of the times. Jack Kirby was originally Jacob Kurtzberg, Stan Lee was Stanley Zeiber, and Bob Kane (who created Batman), his real given name was Eli Katz. It was part of the anti-Semitism of the time, that people wouldn't get as noticed without all-American names, and back then that meant Anglo-Saxon. It meant names like Rip Torn, or other very Americanized names. Sometimes to the point of absurdity. And so for obvious reasons, namely American anti-semitism which have been covered up over time (most people don't know that Jack Kirby was fighting the Nazi Bundt, for instance, and when WWII came along he was one of the first to go out charging as a five foot four man with the soul of a warrior - he actually trained to become a boxer before he became a comic book artist. Yeah, he failed but he did become an excellent scout, who would go behind enemy lines). Compare him to Will Eisner, who was the same age, and Will Eisner being a much shrewder businessman and (I suspect) much less of a fanatic on the subject, he went to the military and showed them that he could draw, and had a proposal drawn on a buxom woman putting guns together. So he spent the war as a drawing boy). Keep in mind that Superman was the first of the superheroes, he even pre-dated Batman, he was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster in Ohio, and as time went by they changed Superman accordingly. He started out as a what the Jews call a Golem, a product of the earth who would bring the leaders of warring forces face to face and make them then and there, in the trenches, face each other. And thereby diffuse a war that was happening. Along came WWII, everybody was wearing a flag, and Superman hoisted the flag.
Hello Mr. Miller,
A few years ago my uncle passed away and in sorting through his belongings I found this - http://imgur.com/a/zebGQ.
I guess what I'm asking is - is this your work or not?.
I have no interest in selling it, I actually really like it regardless of being your work or not. I'm more interested in finding out how you and my uncle crossed paths and if you have any kind words that you would like to share about my uncle Jeff.
I'm sorry about not giving more info about him, but you know ...internet.
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer all these questions!
As best I can guess (I've done a lot of work). It could be.
Did you have any input on casting Eva Green? It seems too great a coincidence that she's in 300: Rise of an Empire, and the star of A Dame to Kill For.
Haha. You know, I can't say I had any role in her work on 300, much as I admired it, and I remember jumping up and down like a little kid about her taking on such a powerful and deadly role in Sin City.
Hey Frank, cheers for this. Do you think you'll ever do any more Batman comics?
Anything can happen! It all depends if a story bites me hard enough and gets formed fast enough. Hasn't happened yet, but you never know.
Hello Mr. Miller, I love the first Sin City movie and can't wait to see the new one. My question is how did you get involved co-directing the first Sin City? How was your experience working with the fantastic Robert Rodriguez, the cast, and staff? Thanks in advance!
EDIT: Wow, firstly thank you Mr. Miller so much for tremendous elaborated answer. I'm so glad you came aboard and loved doing the project. Hope to see you working in many more features whether directing or working on a new project based on your novels.
Secondly: Thanks for the Gold! That's crazy, really appreciate it!
Thirdly: As mentioned by u/LaoBa, that was where I was going with the question. I thought I would ask how a writer would end up co-directing a movie based on his own novel. What I thought I would get a couple of lines, I get a profound answer with details that I have not heard or read before in any other medium (eg. IMDb)
Robert Rodriguez approached me. He really wanted to do it and saw how to do it. I didn't want to do it and didn't see how to do it. So he pursued me, he met me at one point in Hell's Kitchen and showed me what he had in mind, and my answer was "no" because I didn't trust the process. To me it was all Hollywood (keeping in mind I was talking to Austin, and there's a lot more to recommend working in Austin). Anyways the next stage was about a week later, when Robert Rodriguez phoned me up and said "hey Frank, why don't you come out for a weekend, I'll fly you out, we'll do a scene with a few friends. If you like it, maybe we'll do a movie, if you don't we'll have a cool DVD to show our friends." So I went out there, his so-called friends were trained professional actors, and for a freelance scene, and we shot it in 10 hours, and partway through the shooting, which was all going well enough but the female lead I didn't believe she was getting it right, she came over to me and stared at me with those big actress eyes (they really are very hard to take your eyes off) and they said "Well I always wanted to ask- why would I hired somebody to kill myself?!" I ended up talking to her for about 10 minutes, and telling her things i told NO ONE. I told her the entire backstory of the character, and she brightened and went back out and did 3 times the acting job she did before. I went over to Robert and kicked him in the shins, and that really established to me something that I hadn't realized before. I had been mostly nervous about working with actors. I mean, I knew I could put pictures together and tell stories, but a cartoonist's life is a very solitary one, at least while you're working. And movies are quite the opposite, you are surrounded by people and the most prominent among them are the actors. And what I was surprised and delighted by was that I get along great with actors, in fact I love them. I love working with them and they love wring with me. And I feel like i've made a whole pile of new friends. And when we did the sequel, one of the things that made things go so smoothly was that the actors (who were a hard working bunch) had integrated the characters - they had gotten used to them. It was no longer a matter of reminding Marv who he was every time he showed up or having King show up and be walked through her part. All the old characters already had their parts down so I could concentrate on the new ones. But at the same time I did the day-to-day work of adjusting actors when it felt like they were offsript or if they lost track of the part of the story they were in- John Ford said it best, which is that "80% of his job was telling an actor where and when they were." Which is, to my estimate, pretty accurate. That once the actor knows who he is, then it's a matter of reminding an actor that this is the scene BEFORE they get shot, or the scene where they are on the run from the cops, because (having worked in minor roles as an actor) I could see how lost you could get with those bright lights shining on you. It's a very understandable need to have a calm voice tell you, especially a voice you can trust, tell you where and when you are, that can really make a difference.
What was working with Mickey Rourke like? He just seems fascinating. Thanks for all you do Mr. Miller, can't wait for more.
Working with Mickey Rourke was one of the adventures of a LIFETIME. The man is unlike anybody I've ever met. When Robert Rodriguez had the idea of casting him, all I could think was "you mean the skinny guy from Body Heat?" and then we met him in a hotel room. And we saw and waited and when he knocked the door, he was practically knocking it from its hinges. He was carrying this dog, i think you'd call it a dog, i thought it looked like a deformed rat, and he sat and talked about his therapy for 20 minutes. We never discussed the role. I remember writing on my little notepad: That Mickey Rourke. He is Marv.
Then he got up and left the room, and incidentally, that rotten little dog had peed all over Robert's hotel room couch.
But Mickey and I went through all the stages that I think he puts every director through. It would start out with him mocking every word I say, disagreeing with all of it, then gradually I would earn his respect. This time, though, he and I worked much more as a team and I could feel that the work was going more smoothly, there weren't as many extra takes, and he seemed to be much more comfortable in the role. I think it's a hard character to bring nuance to, but he managed to make the character completely believable and add additional layers of nuance to it.
What is your prize possession comic book wise and not comic book wise?
My prize possession, comic-book wise, would have to be a drawing that Will Eisner did for me once, that I've got in a very safe place. It's on a light table, it's a drawing board with a light board so you can trace off of it. And his was built sometime in 1920, and the irony is that his is less than 1/4 the size of mine. And there I was, getting this gift from this legacy, and realizing that I had a big studio full of all this equipment, and he did all those books on this tiny little handmade, handcrafted little piece of nonsense. But I think he probably did every single thing he ever did on it.
And for non comic book possession: I'd rather not say.
Hey.. Thanks for doing this AMA .. My question is simple.. which dame would you kill for?
When it comes to Sin City, I'm a sucker. Any of 'em.
What sparked the idea for Sin City?
I always wanted to draw comic books. I decided I would draw them when I was six years old, and read them avidly. Then I turned 12 or 13, and I lost all interest in reading Spider-Man and the other ones. The stories seemed silly to me, and meanwhile I'd fallen in love with detective comics. So combining the 2 interests to me seemed quite natural, so I started doing tough guy comics. So when I moved to New York in order to break into the business, they would all at me as if I brought in a dead rat and say "All we do are guys in tights, why are you showing us this stuff?" and here I would be working so hard on getting the art right. So I had to learn how to draw superheroes, and I did them for must have been 18 years or so, and when I started getting invitations from Hollywood, it was always as a screenwriter and always frustrating, because I equate writing a screenplay to creating a fire hydrant with a block's worth of dogs lined up to pee on it. And so when I finished my stint in Hollywood, I hadn't drawn in 2 years and I decided would simply indulge myself doing the comic I wanted to, so I would be doing the guys in trench coats. Only now there was a market for it. I didn't know that, but I knew I wanted to try it. And it succeeded.
Hi Frank. This is what you wrote on your blog ( http://frankmillerink.com/ ) in Nov 2011 about Occupy Wall Street.
Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense: The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America. “Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves. This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find. Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy. Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism. And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently - must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh - out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle. In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft. Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape. They might not let you babies keep your iPhones, though. Try to soldier on. Schmucks.
Do you still think OWS protesters were "nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness"?
I think they did a very good job of proving that by themselves, they don't need my help.
Frank, what is your favorite novel and what is your favorite sandwich? Thank you.
My favorite sandwich? Probably baloney and cheese with mustard, as far as sandwiches go. But it's not my favorite novel. My favorite novel would probably be Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett.
Hey Frank Miller, big fan of your work (at least that which I've read and seen)...
One question, do you like video games? if so, what kinds or any in particular?
EDIT: you have also been a big inspiration on my style of drawing and art in general. So thanks for doing everything you've done!
I am very careful to avoid video games. I am terrified that I might enjoy them too much!
What it's been like to be a director? Do you plan to make more movies in the future?
Yes I do. I absolutely ADORE the job. It's a perfect contrast to my cartooning. In my cartooning I work with absolute freedom, and am able to create things out of whole cloth that I can then develop and work until they become a complete entity. This opens up a world of possibilities how something can be filmed. It also closes out a world of mistakes that can be made. For 300, even though I had seen the original 20th Century Fox movie, I decided I would do the story myself when I was old and good enough. I waited until I was 40, and then decided it was time to stop talking bout it and start doing it. And re-interpreted it VASTLY, having no intention of it turning into a movie, it's very funny that the things i have no idea of turning into a movie end up becoming that way. I was thrilled with the results. As a matter of fact, my involvement in Sin City 2 right now is mainly I'm working with Robert, I'm sort of ad libbing on the edit, I'm saying "let's lose this scene, let's keep this shot" but he's such an expert editor he doesn't need that much help. But I am able to help work on the characters a bit more, and make the entire thing feel very Sin City, because it has a very particular tone to it, a very particular intent. I don't talk too much about what Sin City is because it's really my secret. Meanwhile, the other thing I'm eager to do and I've got plans (in my head anyway) for Sin City 3 - that will of course be subject to me and Robert having countless lengthy and productive arguments.
Are you going to be at NYC comic con this year? Cause if so, we should have a beer.
Probably! We haven't really finalized the summer schedule. It's going to be very much the studio's decision of where they want me and need me.
What's something we don't know about you?
Well you know as little about me as I'm willing to say. I don't feel that my personal life is one that I care to share. If I walked around sharing all my personal secrets, then I wouldn't be much of a mystery, would i?
I love old Irish ballads.
Hey Frank. I understand that you are making a sequel to “That Yellow Bastard” in “A Dame to Kill for”, can you tell us a little more about the story and are you going to write the comic version anytime in the future?
Well, "Yellow Bastard" is a comic book. I did it YEARS and years before I did the movie. There is a conclusion to it in Sin City 2, where we see a completely different side of Nancy as she is out for revenge. It's a completely different side of her. Jessica Alba in the intervening 8 years has increased 20 fold as an actress. And if there's a woman who goes and has two kids and you can still bend a fork on her stomach, she's in incredible shape. All I want to say about it is that it's her descent into hell, really. She's been everything from a molested child to lost the love of her life. And so she's really out to avenge Bruce Willis. And it turns out all of her skills as a dancer serve her extremely well in combat. Also, Jessica Alba looks great with a crossbow.
Which legendary comic hero would you like to do a story for?
Again, I get back to Captain America, because I find him such a wonderful anachronism. And also, I feel that he features virtues that my country has either lost or misplaced for a very long time. Especially at a time when the country is so clearly threatened, a hero like that is outstanding. I remember telling people at Marvel, just a few days after 9/11, that I hoped they realized what they had there, because Captain America's reaction to 9/11 would have been pretty direct.