At the Rome Documentary Festival last week, Frank Miller talked about different aspects of his career tying in with new documentary Frank Miller Genius which showed at the festival. Here’s his interview translated from Italian into English…
The three hundred Spartans and the vision of heroism
A film that inspired me a lot is an old film from 1962, The Three Hundred Spartans. I saw it in a very small movie theatre in the town where I was born, in Olney, Maryland. Eventually all the protagonists died and with the death of the heroes I changed my vision of the heroes at that time. Until then I thought that heroes should always survive, but there I changed my mind and promised myself to make a comic about this, which was then 300. In my stories, many heroes die, but believing in heroism means believing in hope.
The first meeting with Stan Lee
I met Stan Lee when I started working on Daredevil for Marvel. There was always a one-hour meeting with Stan to get the lecture. He was an incredible man for his energy levels, and there was no-one like him. He started telling me about Daredevil and why he was such a great character. He explained to me what was the main character point to remember: He was blind, and usually superheroes are known for skills and not for lack of skill, but for Stan it wasn’t like that. He told me that this character was a bit like when we used to go around the house in the dark as children, just to show that we were capable of doing this.
The special bond with Will Eisner
From Will Eisner I learned a lot, I stole from him by studying his tricks and with him I learned the meaning of a story. Just being able to meet him was great for me, but then I was lucky enough that he was also a man of great personality and intellect. To summarize it, we can say that he saw comics as a noble form of expression, which is not only for children. It was an aspiration for him. When I met him he was on the verge of retiring and said: “I draw comics for people like me”. He had changed his touch by dealing with the passage of time, and the Second World War in which he had also fought. He taught me a lot, but above all the sense of ethics: not as a form of loyalty to a company, obtaining work at the expense of others, but as a need to defend one’s intellectual honesty. Professionally it is the most precious source for me.
The relationship with one’s inspiration
Sometimes I observe something on the street and the spring is released, other times I start creating a story without even realising the inspiration. The stories present themselves. I now look at a few hundred stories in front of me, so storytelling is my function for me. It is not something I consciously build brick by brick, it is the reason for my existence.
The studio behind the tables
The thing I like most about my job is the research part, I don’t have such a thorough knowledge of history that I can move without studying. As a student I was a disaster, I was almost abandoning high school studies, but if one thing interests me I study a lot and I have become an expert in some battles. I would also like to explore the History of Rome, of course! Rome has a lot of history.
Sin City and cinema
The relationship between Sin City and cinema is very funny. I started my film career writing the screenplay for Robocop 2, which was a deafening flop and a disaster. Years later Robert Rodriguez called me saying that he wanted to make a film based on Sin City and I replied: “You seem very nice, but I don’t want to do it”. He called a month later and told me to come to Texas to do a little rehearsal scene maybe with some friends, and you can’t turn down an invitation like that. After seeing her I shook hands with Rodriguez and said: “I’m in”. He had big credit at the studios, churning out hit after hit.
Milo Manara and Hugo Pratt
I love Milo Manara very much and Hugo Pratt’s clean lines and black and white, after meeting him that trait also appeared in my stories. When I met him in Lucca it was very funny, we were in a hotel at breakfast and someone introduced him to me. He said to me: “I know her! For six months I kept a comic in my bag ”. He was happy to see an American imitating Europeans, since I also did it with Moebius. We spent the whole day together, what a person, and what a great artist.
Fellini is an artist I would like to explore more, I haven’t seen all of his work but everything I’ve seen threw me into an ecstatic state. He had given full space to all of his imagination in his films.
Talking Frankly At the Rome Documentary Festival last week, Frank Miller talked about different aspects of his career tying in with new documentary Frank Miller Genius which showed at the festival. Here’s his interview translated from Italian into English… The three hundred Spartans and the vision of heroism A film that inspired me a lot
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