Any new comic book business faces great pressure and expectations that come with trying to make a dent in a business dominated by two major players. But when the company’s title is Frank Miller Presents, well, expectations are just a bit higher.
The new venture is named after one of comics’ most famous storytellers. Miller is renowned for revitalizing Daredevil and Batman in the 1980s, as well as indie comic classics like 300 and Give Me Liberty (with artist Dave Gibbons). Together with former DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio, who has now signed on as publisher of FMP, Miller aims to launch a company that empowers and inspires artists and writers to push the boundaries of the medium.
“The goal here is to create a talent-driven vehicle for readers that will explore the potentials of our beloved story and art form,” Miller told IGN.
Check out some early artwork from Miller’s first wave of new projects in the slideshow gallery below (including several exclusive pages), then read on to learn more about what’s coming from Frank Miller Presents.
Sin City and Ronin Return to Frank Miller Presents
The return of Sin City and Ronin
The company will launch new properties while returning to two of Miller’s most revered creations, Ronin and Sin City. On November 23, the first issue of Ronin: Book Two will hit comic stores. Each issue of the bimonthly series will be published in the prestige format, at 48 pages and carrying a cover price of $7.99. Fans have been waiting years for Miller to revisit his samurai story. This new series will serve as a sequel to the story that Miller introduced in 1983, when Ronin was published by DC Comics. Miller scripts the series and provides pencil layouts, with Philip Tan handling the finished pencil work and Daniel Henriques doing the inking.
For the first new Sin City stories in over twenty years, Miller is penning a special one-shot illustrated by legendary Italian artist Milo Manara. This book is called Sin City in Color because it will deviate from the usual black and white black series format for a full color print.
Miller also writes and illustrates a series of Western prequels, called Sin City: 1858. According to DiDio, bringing the Wild West into his noir world has been on Miller’s to-do list for years.
“Frank is intimately involved in everything that’s going on. The reason we do Ronin is because it has never been mined before,” DiDio said in a phone interview. “We think there are a lot of areas that Frank has a story for. And in fact, he’s had that story in mind for Ronin: Volume 2 since the original series ended 40 years ago. So that’s exciting for him to be able to tell this story because he always carries it with him and finally gets it out.
Joining the new Ronin series hitting shelves in November will be the company’s first all-new title, Ancient Enemies. The series, also a $7.99 semi-monthly book, is created and designed by DiDio and artist Danilo Beyruth. It focuses on an ancient war between extraterrestrial civilizations that made their way to Earth. The final conflict ends up being the spark for the birth of new super powerful beings.
“Even though it’s a big concept, what we’re really focusing on are the individual characters that grow out of the stories themselves,” says DiDio. “And that’s the fun part because what we’ve been able to do is a contemporary take on the rise and rise of superheroes and the world of superheroes with a much more contemporary tone and understanding of events. today and how they might play out over these stories.
As if to further emphasize the hands-on involvement of the company’s founder and namesake, DiDio reveals that Miller also contributed an original idea to the Ancient Enemies storyline, which IGN can exclusively reveal here. “Frank created and designed The Geek character, as well as the character’s backstory,” he says. “[That character] will be an integral part of the history of ancient enemies from the second issue.
“They called us nerds, they called us geeks,” Miller says of his latest creation. “Let my geek be your geek because as geeks go, he’s one of the good guys.”
A shared Frank Miller universe?
Considering that almost every aspect of popular culture seems to embrace the concept of shared universes, is Ancient Enemies meant to be the launching pad for an FMP-verse? “There could be [something] in there that might have a connection to another series,” DiDio says. “I don’t want to say too much, but there are little Easter eggs in the Ancient Enemies database that, if you follow them, could lead you to other series.”
This other series could be another of FMP’s brand new creations, Pandora, whose release date is still undetermined. Miller conceived the idea of the sci-fi/fantasy hybrid. ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ screenwriters Anthony Maranville and Chris Silvestri will script this series, with Emma Kubert, daughter of comic book superstar (and The Dark Knight III: The Master Race artist) Andy Kubert, being the newest member. of his esteemed family to manage the artwork on a Frank Miller project.
DiDio points out that he is less concerned with building a universe than just creating a comic that attracts new readers. “The way the story is told is quite similar to how Darwyn Cooke told New Frontier where you tell this long arcing story and the characters that are introduced. [in that story] are those who guide us through history.
At this point in the conversation, DiDio notes the advantage of his new gig over the old one. “When you look at DC and Marvel, I mean you have characters that are 70, 80, and you try to modernize them and tell modern stories with them, even though their origins are from a different time period. With [Frank Miller Presents] we create present-day characters in a story that relates to current people and situations.
While at DC Comics, DiDio oversaw Miller’s The Dark Knight III: The Master Race series with Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson and The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child with Rafael Grampa. Now that the tables are turned and DiDio the writer has Miller the EiC looking over his shoulder, is that a little weird?
“You know what, it’s very easy to agree with him,” DiDio laughs. “He loves talking about character and story, and honestly we sit for hours talking about character and story and ideas because it comes so easily to him.
The publisher also notes that he and Miller remain first and foremost comic book fans who spend as much time debating different papers as they do discussing the plots and characters of their new line of books. This influences part of Frank Miller Presents’ approach. For example, DiDio says the company won’t follow the current industry trend of countless variations of covers for individual issues.
“We only do one variant cover per book and that’s it,” he insists. “We have our lead artist doing our primary cover and we have Frank doing the secondary cover. And once you have Frank Miller doing the variation, it’s hard to wonder why you should go beyond that.
A decidedly new school approach they are taking is to add an NFT component. FMP has partnered with crypto group Spice DAO (they bought Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune bible for $3 million earlier this year) for a series of NFTs featuring characters from Ancient Enemies and even some story elements that will be made public before the books are released.
“I hope it creates some awareness of these characters and excitement for the books,” DiDio said. “Frank does the NFTs for The Geek, and Daniel helps build this incredible amount of NFT material featuring all the characters on the show.”
This decision makes sense from a commercial point of view, given a Miller Sin City NFT sold for $840,000 in 2021. But some fans don’t like the concept. When asked what he would say if approached at a convention and asked about NFTs, DiDio’s answer was simple.
“You don’t have to buy NFTs. Just read the book because we built the story first. Spice DAO saw the designs and the story and they built their ideas for NFTs around that, not the other way around,” he says, adding that he views NFTs as an almost modern take on DVD extras. . “NFTs are just a way to license these characters and reach new markets. The main goal is to write books, create books and build something that is truly an experience fabulous reading, and I think that’s really important for comics right now.
Miller, DiDio, and Emma Kubert will all be at MegaCon in Orlando, Florida this weekend, where they’ll shed some light on these upcoming books during the Frank Miller Presents panel.
In other comic book news, Batmnan writer Tom King teases “the scariest Riddler ever” in his new graphic novel, and Marvel is finally releasing its first Mandalorian comic.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.