DC has signed a new five-project deal with Frank Miller, PW reports. This deal will include Superman Year One, and a Carrie Kelly book with artist Ben Caldwell. Kelly first appeared in The Dark Knight Returns as a Robin-type sidekick, and took center stage as a Batman in the Dark Knight III series.
But the busy Miller is not just DC bound, he’s also signed with Simon & Schuster’s Children’s division for a book set in the world of Arthurian legend, starring Nimue. An art excerpt is above.
PW’s Calvin Reid chatted with DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee who position the Miller deal as part of DC’s pivot to longer form comics:
In a phone interview, DC copublishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee (who is also one of DC’s most popular artists), emphasized that the new deal with Miller is one part of several ongoing initiatives (which include several new imprints) to focus its publishing on the book trade and to better position DC Entertainment in an evolving North American comics marketplace. Long dominated by sales of monthly superhero periodicals via comics shops, the American comics industry is beginning to acknowledge a future that will be defined by new readers looking for book format graphic novels.
“We’re looking at our business strategy and how the market and our fans have changed,” Didio said. “We’re developing a new strategy about how we deal with all our characters and we want to get the widest audience possible.”
DC’s new strategic initiatives are aimed at increasing its profile in the book trade, Didio and Lee said, and will include superhero and genre comics works published via a series of “pop–up imprints” aimed at young readers and adults. Miller’s deal is only one part of the initiative. The beginnings of DC’s effort to focus its publishing program on the book format, Didio and Lee explained, goes back to 2008 when DC switched its distribution in the book trade to Penguin Random House Publisher Services. The switch to PRH, the publishers explained, was the first step by a major comics periodical publisher to add a serious book program and that process is speeding up now.
DC has been doubling down on their “new markets” strategy for over a year now, so obviously they’ve been ahead of the shifting winds of the industry.
While Miller’s DC’s projects are firmly in his established wheelhouse, the King Arthur book is a bit more unusual, EW writes:
EW can exclusively reveal that the Dark Knight Returns and Sin City creator’s next project will be Cursed, an illustrated YA book reimagining of the King Arthur legend from the point of view of 16-year-old Nimue — the young woman who first wielded Excalibur and became the all-powerful Lady of the Lake. Miller will provide original full-color and black-and-white illustrations, and Thomas Wheeler (Puss in Boots) will write the book.
“I have always been entranced by the mythological Arthur story — and by Nimue, in particular,” Miller said in a statement. “It can be interpreted in any number of ways — from a delightful children’s story, as in The Sword in the Stone, to a terrifying interpretation like Excalibur. This tale represents an incredible opportunity and an exciting challenge for me as an illustrator, and I’m excited to collaborate on the story with Thomas Wheeler. I inherited a collection of antique children’s books from my mother, and I’ve always wanted to have a crack at it myself. This project is a dream come true.”
All in all it’s a big comeback for Miller, whose health issue prior to DKIII were well known. During the press tours for DKIII, he mentioned wanting to work on material for younger readers, and Cursed would seem to be one of the fruits of that desire.
Miller’s long-simmering Xerxes project is coming out this spring from Dark Horse.
DC’s official press release also included some of our first looks at the interior pages of Superman: Year One, which Miller is penning with John Romita Jr. on art for DC’s Black Label line.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.