Alan Moore's surprisingly positive thoughts on Frank Miller, from 1983

Alan Moore and Frank Miller are perhaps two of the best known comic book creators—or at least, two with the most notable personalities. They've both had their properties—creator-owned, and otherwise—adapted into hit movies (for better, and for worse). And they've both been known for expressing, erm, shall we say, unpleasantries and other controversial opinions.

But long before the self-made legends preceded themselves—before Swamp Thing and Watchmen, and just a few years into Miller's celebrated run on Daredevil—Alan Moore actually sang the praises of his fellow comic creator in a column featured in a Marvel UK's Daredevils (a British-focused series, not to be confused with, well, Daredevil).

Even in 1983, a then-30-year-old Moore was already making jokes about the crotchety cynicism for which he would become known:

Listen, don't you kids try and talk to me about comics! I've been reading the damn things for the past twenty two years and I'm bitter, jaded and cynical in terminal proportions. I was there back in 1961 when Marvel comics began their grand experiment in attempting to endow two-dimensional superheroes with believable personality quirks and genuine human anxieties. I was there a few years later when the noble enterprise had sunken back into the same weary, formularised rut and it seemed that in order to become a superhuman you had to have a bad leg, a dicky ticker or a maiden aunt with chronic varicose veins.

"Don't talk to me about comics. It's too painful," he adds, as if predicting his own daughter's future words about him.

Then Moore goes on to talk about what makes Frank Miller so uniquely brilliant as both a writer and an artist, focusing specifically on his now-acclaimed Daredevil run:

I was introduced to Frank Miller while we were both guests at the '82 Comicano convention, and it grieves me to report that he is one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, that his ego is constrained to entirely manageable proportions and that from all indications he seems to intend to remain in the comic field until his eyesight goes the same way as that of the character he is most frequently associated with. You live and learn, lads. You live and learn.


In Miller's work, thought balloons and captions have become less and less a part of his characterization technique. All we know of what's going on inside his character's minds is what we can deduce from a raised eyebrow, a quirk of the lip or a narrowing of the eyes. Just like in real life. (It's perhaps worth noting that Miller's creation Elektra, who most comic fans seem to love for her well-defined character as much as her 'less-is-more' approach to costumery, has never utilised thought balloons to expound upon her motivations. Thus, much of her characterization is in the reader's mind. Perhaps that's exactly why it's so effective.)

The second aspect of Miller's work that deserves comment, that aspect which makes his stories such a fluid joy to read, is his flawless and precise sense of timing.

He seems to compose his stories with a musician's sense of rhythm and metre, often interrupting the staccato drama with a sudden oddly-shaped or silent frame that strikes a brief pause, a single downbeat before the story spirals off again in some new direction.

It's wild seeing Alan Moore speak with such young enthusiasm—but even weirder that he's singing the praises of Frank Miller of all people (who, while also famously crotchety, is far more of a Libertarian compared to Moore's Left-Anarchistic leanings).

Nearly 30 years after a 30-year-old Alan Moore celebrated Miller, a then-58-year-old Moore responded to Miller's bizarre Occupy Wall Street rant by calling him out as being "wildly misguided," and "homophobic," specifically citing his "unreconstructed misogyny," "wildly ahistoric" writing, and "rather unpleasant sensibility."

Still, it's fascinating to read the words of a once-bright-eyed Alan Moore, and you can find the whole (very long) essay on The Comics Cube.

The Importance of Being Frank (Miller) [Alan Moore / Comics Cube]

Image: Matt Biddulph / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0) & Ferran Cornellà / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)