Sin City London Premiere - Frank MillerFrank Miller in London, image by juliet_a via Flickr

One of the few comics creators who has become his own brand, writer-artist Frank Miller first made his mark with a gritty, film-noir take on Marvel Comics’ “Daredevil.” He went on to pop-culture stardom with DC Comics’ ” The Dark Knight Returns,” a 1986 miniseries envisioning a bitter, reactionary Batman a few decades from now, fighting against a corrupt world as seen through Miller’s Ayn Rand-devotee eyes. His vision helped inspire the similarly dark Batman movies, and the less successful “Daredevil” film (2003).

Miller went on to such creator-owned comics as “Sin City” and “300,” from independent publisher Dark Horse. Each became the basis of a popular movie, with director Robert Rodriguez granting Miller co-director credit for his help on “Frank Miller’s Sin City” (2005).

Now flying solo, Miller, 51, has adapted ” The Spirit,” Will Eisner’s legendary 1940-52 comics series that appeared as seven-page stories in Sunday newspapers. (The movie opens Thursday.) Its tales of an average-Joe-masked crime-fighter in a rumpled suit, encountering both Everyman criminals and exotic international thieves, became famous for both their humanistic fables and Eisner’s pioneering techniques. Miller recently spoke at the Waldorf- Astoria with frequent contributor Frank Lovece.

For those poor, deprived souls who don’t know his work, what makes Will Eisner so important to comics?

Well, it’s like asking what Thomas Edison did for the lightbulb. Eisner was one of the people who created [the medium of] comic books. He was one of the first people who ever took comics out of the four-panel strip and showed the possibilities of the full page. And so he was one of the founding fathers. It’s like asking what Thomas Jefferson had to do with the Constitution.

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