the dark knight returns
Warner Bros.’ announcement of a “Batman vs. Superman” sequel to Man of Steel at Comic-Con International triggered a 161 percent surge in digital sales of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in July, setting a record for a full-priced DC Entertainment digital title, Variety reports.
The publisher previously mentioned “a huge jump in month-over-month [digital] sales” of Frank Miller’s pioneering 1986 work, but didn’t offer more than that. Like most publishers, DC doesn’t reveal actual sales figures for either print or digital.
The influential four-issue miniseries brings an aging Batman out of retirement a decade after the death of Jason Todd to save Gotham from sinking deeper into decay and lawlessness. With the help of a new, female Robin, Carrie Kelly, the Dark Knight ends the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city and confronts two of his greatest enemies. But then he must face his former ally Superman in a battle that only one will survive.
Although Man of Steel director Zack Snyder was quick to caution at Comic-Con that the sequel wouldn’t be an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, actor Harry Lennix read dialogue from the book — “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat” — and Miller was reportedly set to meet with the filmmaker.
Frank Miller’s original cover for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 sold at auction last week for $478,000, The Associated Press reports. Initial expectations had placed the price at more than $500,000.
Although Heritage Auctions has sold other original art from the landmark 1986 DC Comics miniseries — a page from Issue 3, featuring Batman and Robin in mid-air, fetched a record $448,125 in 2011 — this was the first cover to ever appear at auction. It’s also the only one from the four-issue series to be rendered completely in pen and ink by Miller.
A near-mint copy of 1940′s Batman #1, featuring the first appearance of Catwoman and The Joker, went for $567,625 at the same auction. A similar copy sold for $850,000 in 2012.
The record price paid at auction for a comic is held by a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1, which fetched $2.16 million in 2011.
Before a shocked country, let alone investigators, can begin to get a grasp on what led 24-year-old James Holmes to open fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing at least 12 and wounding dozens more, at least one newspaper writer is willing to take a wild guess: a comic book. Specifically, Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns.
Under the headline, “Was the Batman shooting movie shooting imitated from scene in 1986 comic?,” The Washington Examiner’s Sean Higgins claims the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, “bears eerie similarities” to the scene in which “a crazed, gun-toting loner walks into a movie theater and begins shooting it up, killing three in the process.”
In an effort to bolster his shaky, if not downright groundless hypothesis, Higgins points out that The Dark Knight Returns served “a key inspiration” for director Christopher Nolan’s big-screen trilogy. (Why stop there, though? Coupled with Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Year One,” the miniseries has influenced virtually every depiction of Batman over the past quarter-century.)
Despite the considerable critical backlash, DC Comics’ Before Watchmen line of titles has become one of this summer’s top sellers, and the publisher announced at Comic-Con International that it’s revisiting the classic Sandman in a prequel written by Neil Gaiman. With that in mind, I’ve come up with six other wells the company could return to for new projects. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t, but given recent events this might be where fans, and DC, could look next.
Richard Pace sends up Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in his response to Frank Miller’s recent tirade against Occupy protestors, writing, “I’d prefer to remember Frank Miller as the sometimes brilliant, long-haired nerd glaring from his back-cover photo on The Dark Knight Returns trade rather than the fedora-wearing, incoherent lightweight hack he’s become.”
Read the full comic strip, titled “The Dick Knight,” on Pace’s blog.
The piece actually sold for $448,125 to an anonymous collector — “the single most valuable piece of American comic art to ever sell,” the auction house said in a press release.
“I’ve always loved that drawing,” said Frank Miller, who drew the landmark Batman: The Dark Knight Returns miniseries, before the auction. “Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it. I hope it finds a good home.”
“Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns defined the best of 1980s comics, and has since been universally acknowledged as one of the most important and influential stories ever published,” said Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, “and no image from that important comic series is more iconic than this Splash Page. It’s a little surprising, yes, but fitting that this piece is now the most expensive piece of American comic art ever sold at auction.”
Per the press release, the previous record price for a piece of original American comic book art was set last year when the cover of EC comics Weird Fantasy #29, by artist Frank Frazetta, sold at Heritage via a private treaty sale for $380,000. That of course was a cover, which typically sell for higher prices than interior art. Typically ….
“Heritage auctioned Frank Miller’s original artwork for the cover of Daredevil #188 for $101,575 last year,” said Jaster, “so we knew there were serious buyers out there, especially for Miller’s top work. Now we know for sure what collectors are willing to pay. This piece is far away the current king. Nothing else has even come close.”
If you’re a bigwig at an animation company and have your pick to adapt a story from anywhere in the DC mythos, where do you go? After animation has covered just about every major character in DC’s pantheon, they have begun focusing in on specific story arcs to translated into animated movies, and rumors now have them aiming for the top of the mountain: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
BleedingCool.com is reporting an unsourced rumor saying that the DC Entertainment animation wing is in the “early stages of development” on a animated adaption of this, which could prove to be the darkest animated work they’ve done. There’s been no confirmation or denial by official sources, leaving fans to speculate on the veracity of this and also who could voice the characters — notably an aged Batman.
Thanks to its connection to parent company Warner Bros., DC Comics’ animated properties have long outpaced Marvel’s and the recent string of straight-to-DVD animated features only further cements that dominance. In recent years Marvel has made big strides to close that gap, but DC’s animated track record of Batman: The Animated Series, Teen Titans GO! and the Justice League series put them ahead.
Would you like to see this epic series animated? And going further, what other DC stories could be great as a cartoon?
Billed as “one of the most important pieces of original comic book art Heritage has ever offered,” Heritage Auctions expects to bring in $100,000 or more for page 10 of The Dark Knight Returns #3 , drawn by Frank Miller.
The iconic shot, arguably one of the most recognizable images from the series besides the covers (and maybe even including the covers), features Batman and the Carrie Kelley Robin leaping through the night.
“Artwork from this famed series is much scarcer than anything else from the period, as demonstrated by the fact that Heritage has only offered two Dark Knight panel pages previously, along with the fact that any splash page – much less a such an undeniably classic image – has never been offered at auction,” Heritage reported in a press release. “This gem has been locked away in a single collection since being purchased upon the series’ original publication. Unlike many pages from the series, where differences between the original art and the published version are evident, no changes were made to this artwork for publication, and the original contains no paste-ups or stats – it’s pure art, just the way it appeared in print.”
Heritage will begin taking bids on April 16, with the final auction running May 5-6. More details on the auction can be found in the press release after the jump.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Strap yourself in for a long read, because this month we’re looking at the rather lengthy and considerable career of one of the most influential comics creators of the past 40 years, Mr. Frank Miller.
Marvel.com: What is your proudest achievement as far as what Marvel has accomplished under your reign?
Joe Quesada: I’ll give you the long answer to your short question. When I was reintroduced to reading comics around 25-26, I remember the first comics I read were [The Dark Knight Returns] and Watchmen. I’m a big believer in role modeling, setting goals for yourself and shooting for those goals, shooting for the moon. So when I broke into comics, the goal became not only did I want to be a writer, not only did I want to be an artist, but someday I wanted to do something as great as Dark Knight or Watchmen—that was the goal. I think a lot of creators have that when they start; they find that one book and say, “someday I want to create something that’s just like that.” That’s the path I tried to follow.
Now nobody, myself included, has ever really had that kind of story that has redefined the genre like those two books. But when I look back at my 10 years at Marvel and everything we’ve accomplished, from Chapter 11 [bankruptcy] to now where we’re part of the Disney family; now that we’re a movie studio, a television studio, and animation studio; we’ve got all these things going on—when I look back on that, I look back on that as my Watchmen. That’s what I hope I’ve left behind as a good thing. It wasn’t a book, but it was certainly a period of time for me that I will remember very, very fondly.
–Outgoing Marvel Editor-in-Chief and reigning Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada gives Marvel.com’s Ryan “Agent M” Penagos what strikes me as an extremely revealing answer to the question of his legacy. Everything I’ve ever heard from Marvel creators and employees led me to conclude long ago that Quesada’s great strength as EIC (and a few of his weaknesses as well) stemmed from the fact that he is an artist first and foremost; seems like he still thought in those terms even when far from the drawing table.
Today Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson did something that some consider too revealing even in this socially networked, airport x-ray’d age: She posted 20 movies from her Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue. Like anyone else’s, it’s a motley crew of movies made possible by a massive library of films and the power to watch any of them at any time with a few clicks of a mouse — a blend of “comfort food” you want access to at all times, unwatched stuff you’re dying to see at the next available opportunity, major investments of time or energy you haven’t been prepared to make just yet, “eat your vegetables” fare you know you ought to watch eventually, and goofy guilty pleasures you’re simply tickled to be able to watch whenever you feel like it.
This got me thinking. I know there are any number of logistical and financial reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist for comics. But we comics readers are an imaginative bunch, no? And today I choose to imagine a world where I can load up pretty much any book I can think of and read to my heart’s content. So here’s what my imaginary “Read Instantly” queue would look like, circa today. Check it out, then let us know what’s on your queue in the comments!