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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Comics Journal Library: Frank Miller -- I've discussed before how formative an experience it was reading Frank Miller's work as a teenager; he was rising to stardom on Daredevil around the same time I was discovering the greater world of the comics artform beyond the narrow parameters of Marvel and DC. Even within those parameters, Miller managed to bring a singular new sensibility to his comics work, and I maintain that his Daredevil work with Klaus Janson, David Mazzucchelli and others is among the best superhero comics ever created.

The latest in the Comics Journal Library series focuses on Miller, with all his various TCJ interviews re-presented, a new interview, a career overview, and top-notch design throughout.

What comes through primarily is Miller's fascination, love and loathing for New York City -- which in retrospect is what his Daredevil run was all about. No surprise, then, that the attacks of September 11th, 2001 had such an impact on his work -- resulting in the fractured, divisive DK2. Miller discusses that work at length with Gary Groth, and that alone is worth the cost of the book. I still think DK2 was a massive failure on just about every level, but I have more sympathy for Miller's intent after reading his thoughts, and I hope that his struggle to deal with September 11th someday manages to coalesce into a work more worthy of the subject, and worthy of Miller himself.

He's a great talent, and one of the biggest influences on how I think about comics. He's not without flaws, but you'll find in some of the earlier interviews that he was positively prescient about the current state of the American comics industry, and I think this book is something every comics reader should study carefully. It's one of the most important pieces of comics journalism to be released this year.

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