Retelling A Classic Superhero Story
Superman: Year One by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr is a new series from DC’s Black Label starting this June and here’s 10 things we learnt from them from a chat they did on DC’s own website…
- Frank Miller offered a little bit of a clue about what to expect with this story: “This is baby Kal-El’s odyssey from planet Krypton to planet Earth. From a strange little boy to Superman. It’s a hero’s journey wherein a boy discovers his powers and more importantly, his destiny.”
- This project has been a long time coming for Miller, he admits: “I’ve been waiting to do this one since I was a very little boy.”
- He has been very happy with Romita Jr’s work on the series: “Working with artist John Romita Jr. is wonderful as always. He always exceeds anything I ask for.”
- Miller reveals how the series is connected to his earlier DC work:”It ties in with my Dark Knight Universe and Batman: Year One.”
- The series is designed to be accessible to everyone, even readers who know nothing about the character, Miller explains, offering the highest quality work from himself and Romita Jr: “we’re bringing our best with very good material and an incredible character. Absolutely nothing whatsoever [is needed for first-time readers to know].”
John Romita Jr.
- Romita Jr filled people in on the story a little:”It’s a different take on the origin and the growing up of Superman. It’s really peeling away the layers of the character, aging from infant to young adult and then finally to adult. The periods of time that we are covering haven’t really been covered before, other than maybe some tiny vignettes, and this really investigates deeply each of these moments in his life. It applies the problems of being an alien in Kansas, amongst regular children, and how he has to deal with it. It’s a deep, deep examination of the growing up of a super-alien living on planet Earth.”
- He explained what excited him about the book too:”First, working with Frank. He and I go back way too long in the business. Second, working on possibly the most famous, iconic character in the business. And third, the size and scope of this—200 pages of story on super-large paper, for a super-large format. Everything about this is large. It’s all been great starting with the brilliant story from Frank, passing it on to me, allowing me to basically do what I want with it. He gave me so much room to play, and of course, then I run it past him and the editors—but they gave me so much latitude. I’m relatively a neophyte on the history of the character, but that’s the fun part. We have kind of changed the format with examining his growing up.”
- Romita Jr is very proud of the series: “I say this with humility and as a humble, shy person, but this is the best book you’re ever going to read.”
- He has had a great experience collaborating with Miller and the rest of the team, he reveals:”First, working with Danny and Alex has been amazing because we are all artists. This is not one artist and an inker and a colorist. And even Frank is an artist, so there are actually four artists on this book. Having a brilliant group of artists has been amazing—I cannot quantify it. It’s why it is as good as it is. Danny has gone through more liquid ink than any human being in this business because of the size of the paper. I’m just using graphite—pencils and erasers—but all that ink, it’s almost comical if it weren’t so difficult. Everyone is putting their heart and soul in it. With Frank, we’ve done this format before where he gives me a plot and allows me to run, and then he’ll fill the dialogue in according to the artwork, so to speak. I love it this way. It is daunting because it’s 200 pages, and there is a lot of room to play with, and a lot of area to fill, and I didn’t really go by the lore of Superman when I filled in these anecdotal vignettes of youth. I kind of brought some of the things I experienced—football playing, running into bullies and dealing with crushes as an adolescent. I tried to do that because there are areas that you can’t print out to use as reference. So, I tried to give some of my own experiences in those moments. And then Frank brought in Clark going into the Navy, and I was able to run with that as Clark goes to the SEALs. Frank even contacted the SEALs to take a look at this and they gave us their approval, which was so great. And it all makes perfect sense for Clark. He’s living in the Midwest, but he’s from a planet that has oceans. So, at one point he thinks, “I need to be near water!” So, joining the Navy is a very normal progression. He goes to his parents for advice, and then a short time later, he’s joining the Navy. I think this kind of storytelling is going to set a precedent—the size and scope of the story—I don’t know if I’d jump at doing another story like this immediately, but maybe again in a few years.
- He also pointed out how accessible this series was going to be for first-time readers: “If they have any memories of their youth, they’ll be able to appreciate this. It parallels any person’s adolescence. Even a super-being has trouble with romance, deals with bullies and learns from their parents.”
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Superman: Year One #1 by Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair is available in print and digital from 19 June 2019.