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Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. Open Up about Superman: Year One

Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. Open Up about Superman:...

By DC Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Superman: Year One is going to surprise you.

That’s pretty astonishing when you consider that we’re talking about a character who debuted in 1938, written and drawn by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr., two stalwarts of comics that have been working in the medium for several decades. And yet, Superman: Year One still manages to feel unexpected, distinct and like a new high-water mark for the character and all those involved in the story’s creation. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the format and imprint that the comic is a part of. Releasing in three, large-format periodicals in June, August and October of this year, Superman: Year One is the third new book to come out as part of the DC Black Label line. However, it’s also clearly a labor of love for the two men behind it, as we learned when we spoke to both of them about their much-anticipated new project.

Frank Miller

What can you tell us about the 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.

Why are you excited about this project?

I’ve been waiting to do this one since I was a very little boy.

What’s it like working with John Romita Jr.?

Working with artist John Romita Jr. is wonderful as always. He always exceeds anything I ask for.

Is this connected to your earlier work?

It ties in with my Dark Knight Universe and Batman: Year One.

Why should fans check this out?

Because we’re bringing our best with very good material and an incredible character.

Describe the series in seven words or fewer.

Superman arrives. Nothing will be the same.

What should first-time readers know before picking this up?

Absolutely nothing whatsoever.

John Romita Jr.

What can you tell us about the story?

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.

Why are you excited about this project?

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.

Also, having Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair working on this with me, three artists, has been so great. It’s a great fallback having three artists instead of just one.

Why should fans check this out?

I say this with humility and as a humble, shy person, but this is the best book you’re ever going to read.

How does this tie into the current DC Universe?

I’m not sure if it does—and that’s the fun part of this. If anything happens as a result of this story, then that would be the answer. The commonalities are the use of the same characters, but the story is a departure.

Describe the series in seven words or fewer.

A complete examination of Superman from birth.

What’s it like working with Frank Miller, Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair?

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.

What should first-time readers know before picking this up?

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.
 

Superman: Year One #1 by Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair is available in print and digital on June 19, 2019.