As part of Will Eisner Week, celebrating the life and career of the visionary comic creator, 100 Years of Genius: The Life and Legacy of Will Eisner, a conversation between frequent comic creators Frank Miller and Klaus Janson was held this week at the SVA Theater.
Known for their past critically acclaimed and celebrated comic collaborations such as Batman: The Dark Knight and Daredevil, as well as their own projects independent from one another, Miller and Janson discussed a variety of subject matter on stage from the remarkable life and career of Eisner to their own personal experiences in the comics industry. Here are some of the highlights:
-Miller can’t recall the exact year he met Eisner, only that it was at a party with other creators in the 80’s that eventually developed into a close friendship until Eisner’s passing in 2005. Janson regrets never having a chance to meet Eisner.
-As Miller has said many countless times in the past, he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Eisner in particular how he unashamedly copied the introduction of the character Sand Saref in Eisner’s The Spirit for his first issue of Daredevil that debuted Elektra.
-Eisner was very adamant with how a comic panel should capture one moment in time.
-Apparently Eisner refused to acknowledge the influence of cinema on comics. Miller feels this was due to Eisner’s desire to have the art form treated seriously and believed that associations with pop culture would lower the status of comics.
-Eisner wasn’t impressed when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster pitched him Superman.
-When Miller visited Eisner’s studio in Florida, he was surprised to see for himself the modesty of Eisner’s art supplies and setup.
-Advice Miller shared with budding creators breaking into the industry: pick the loser books to work on. If a book is doing well, you’ll only be compared unfavorably to the previous creative team no matter how good you are. The sales of Daredevil were so bad by the time Miller joined the book that it was nearly going to be canceled.
-The advice Miller received from artist Neal Adams when he moved from Vermont to New York to become a comic creator: “Go back to Vermont and pump gas.”
-After eventually wearing him down, Adams got Miller his first assignment drawing a short story in a Twilight Zone comic from Gold Key. Miller said he was delighted to get the chance to draw Rod Serling.
-While Spider-Man had an amazing rogues gallery like Doc Ock, Miller was extremely dissatisfied with Daredevil’s lackluster villains like Stilt-Man or Gladiator but he and Janson made due. Not surprising to learn Miller brought in Spidey villains whenever he could, most noticeably Wilson Fisk/Kingpin.
-Miller views his original run on Daredevil with Janson as one long story between 4 central characters: Daredevil/Matt Murdock, Elektra, Bullseye, and Kingpin.
-Janson also mentioned Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich as another pivotal character in their Daredevil run. Though he didn’t create the character, Miller divulged his take on Urich was inspired by the title character in the TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
-Both Miller and Janson had high praise for letterer Joe Rosen and the great work he did lettering each issue by hand.
-Janson noted that Miller has said that his favorite line he’s ever written is from a panel in The Dark Knight Strikes Back that succinctly describes the powers of the Atom, “Ray Palmer/The Atom/He Gets Small”
-This led to a discussion of the powers other superheroes, in particular Green Lantern which Miller considers a terrible name. Because of Green Lantern’s ability to create nearly anything with his power ring, Miller believes he has to be one of the “stupidest” people hence how Miller portrayed him in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder.
-Any fans out there still holding out for the next issue since issue #10 came out in 2008 may be happy to hear that Miller said that he recently spoke with artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee about returning to finish the All-Star Batman & Robin book they started over a decade ago.