Any new comics company faces great pressure and expectation that comes with trying to make a dent in a business dominated by two major players. But when the title of the company is Frank Miller Presents, well, the expectations are just a tad bit higher.
The new venture bears the name of one of comics’ most celebrated storytellers. Miller is renowned for revitalizing Daredevil and Batman in the 1980’s, as well as for indie comics 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 the publisher of FMP, Miller aims to launch a company that empowers and inspires artists and writers to push the medium to new limits.
“The goal here is to create a vehicle for the readers, run by the talent, that will explore the potentialities of our beloved story and art form,” Miller tells IGN.
Check out some early artwork for Miller’s first wave of new projects in the slideshow gallery below (including several exclusive pages), and then read on to learn more about what’s coming from Frank Miller Presents.
Sin City and Ronin Return at Frank Miller Presents
The Return of Sin City and Ronin
The company will launch new properties while also returning to two of Miller’s most revered creations, Ronin and Sin City. On November 23, the first issue of Ronin: Book Two will arrive in comic book shops. Each issue of the bimonthly series will be released in prestige format, at 48 pages and carrying a $7.99 cover price. Fans have been waiting for years for Miller to revisit his samurai tale. This new series will serve as a continuation of the story Miller introduced in 1983, when Ronin was published by DC Comics. Miller is scripting the series and providing pencil layouts, with Philip Tan handling the finished pencil work and Daniel Henriques doing the inking.
For the first new Sin City stories in more than twenty years, Miller is writing a special one-shot illustrated by legendary Italian artist Milo Manara. That book is called Sin City in Color, because it will detour from the noir series’ usual black-and-white format for a full-color printing.
Miller is also writing and illustrating a western prequel series, called Sin City: 1858. According to DiDio, introducing the Wild West into his noir universe has been on Miller’s to-do list for years.
“Frank’s intimately involved in everything going on. The reason why we’re doing Ronin is because it’s never been exploited before,” DiDio says during a phone interview. “We feel that there’s a lot of areas that Frank has a story for. And actually, he’s had this story in mind for Ronin: Book Two since the end of the original series 40 years ago. So this is exciting for him to be able to tell that story because he still carries it with him and he’s finally getting it out.”
Joining the new Ronin series on shelves in November will be the company’s first brand new title, Ancient Enemies. The series, also a bi-monthly $7.99 book, is created and designed by DiDio and artist Danilo Beyruth. It centers on an ancient war between alien civilizations that have made their way to Earth. The final conflict ends up being the spark for the birth of new super-powered beings.
“Even though it’s a big high concept, what we’re really focused on is the individual characters that rise from the stories themselves,” DiDio says. “And that’s the fun part of it because what we were able to do is a contemporary take on the rise and the advent of superheroes and the superhero world with a much more contemporary tone and understanding of the events of today and how they might play out in the course of 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 character The Geek, as well as the backstory for the character,” he says. “[That character] will be an integral part of the Ancient Enemies story from the second issue on.”
“They’ve called us nerds, they’ve called us geeks,” Miller says about his newest creation. “Let my geek become your geek because as geeks go, he’s one of the good ones.”
A Shared Frank Miller Universe?
Considering that nearly all aspects of popular culture seem to be embracing the concept of shared universes, is Ancient Enemies meant to be the launchpad for an FMP-verse? “There might be [something] in there that might have a tie to another series,” DiDio says. “I don’t want to give too much away, but there are little Easter eggs on the basis of Ancient Enemies that if you follow them, might take you to other series.”
That other series could be another of FMP’s brand-new creations, Pandora, whose release date is still undetermined. Miller devised the idea for the science-fiction/fantasy hybrid. “Star Trek: Discovery” writers Anthony Maranville and Chris Silvestri will script that series, with Emma Kubert, daughter of comics superstar (and The Dark Knight III: The Master Race artist) Andy Kubert, being the latest member of her esteemed family to handle the artwork on a Frank Miller project.
DiDio stresses he’s less concerned with building a universe than with just creating a comic that hooks new readers. “The way the story’s being told is pretty similar to the way Darwyn Cooke told New Frontier where you’re telling this long arching story and the characters that are introduced [in that story] are the ones that take us through the story.”
At this point in the conversation, DiDio notes the advantage his new gig has over his old one. “When you look at DC and Marvel, I mean you have characters that are 70, 80 years old, and you’re trying to contemporize them and tell modern-day stories with them, even though their origins come from a different time period. With [Frank Miller Presents] we’re creating characters for today in a story that relates to people and situations that are current.”
When he was 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 roles are reversed and DiDio the writer has Miller the EiC looking over his shoulder, is it a bit weird?
“You know what, it’s very easy to agree with him,” DiDio says while laughing. “He loves to talk character and story, and honestly, we just sit for hours talking character and story and ideas, because it comes so easily to him.
The publisher also notes that he and Miller remain, above all, huge comics fans who spend as much time debating different paper stock as they do discussing plots and characters for their new line of books. That’s influencing part of the Frank Miller Presents approach. For example, DiDio says the company will not be following the current industry trend of countless variant covers for individual issues.
“We’re only doing one variant cover per book and that’s it,” he insists. “We have our primary artist doing our main cover and we have Frank doing the secondary cover. And once you have Frank Miller doing the variant, it’s hard to wonder why you should expand past that.”
One decidedly new-school approach they’re taking is adding an NFT component. FMP partnered with the crypto group Spice DAO (they bought Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune bible for $3 million earlier this year) for a series of NFTs featuring Ancient Enemies characters and even some elements of the stories that will go public before the books are released.
“I’m hoping that it creates some awareness to these characters and excitement for the books,” DiDio says. “Frank is doing the NFTs for The Geek, and Daniel is helping build out this incredible amount of NFT material featuring all the characters of the series.”
The move makes sense from a business perspective, considering 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 he was approached at a convention and asked about NFTs, DiDio’s answer was simple.
“You don’t have to buy the 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 the NFTs around that, not the other way around” he says, adding that he views NFTs as almost a modern-day version of DVD extras. “The NFTs are just a way to license these characters out and reach out to new markets. The main goal is to write books, create books and build something that is really a fabulous reading experience, and I think that’s really important for comics right now.”
Miller, DiDio and Emma Kubert will all be attending MegaCon in Orlando, FL this weekend, where they’ll shed more light on these upcoming books during the Frank Miller Presents panel.
In other comic book news, Batmnan writer Tom King is teasing “the scariest Riddler of all time” in his new graphic novel, and Marvel is finally publishing its first Mandalorian comic.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.