DC is making a play for the bookstore market, and a big part of it is signing 300 and Sin City creator Frank Miller to a five-project deal to develop new graphic novels for the publisher.
The deal, which begins with DC's Black Label release Superman: Year One (which Miller will write and John Romita, Jr. will draw), also includes an all-ages-friendly graphic novel featuring Carrie Kelley, the female Robin first seen in Miller's best-seller The Dark Knight Returns. Marking Miller’s first-ever foray into storytelling for young readers, the new graphic novel will feature illustrations by Prez artist Ben Caldwell.
“I am psyched to continue my partnership with DC,” Miller said in a statement. “Developing the Carrie Kelley project and Superman: Year One with Dan and Jim has been a dream. It’s thrilling to have Carrie Kelley take center stage for the first time, and the energy that Ben is bringing to her is new and different—it’s incredible to see. It’s also a lot of fun working alongside John on Superman: Year One, this project is a childhood dream come true for me.”
The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were the 1-2 punch that helped prove that mainstream superhero publishers could be valuable in the bookstore market back in the '80s, and have remained perennial best-sellers in both comic shops and bookstores. For years, DC outsold other comics publishers in the bookstore market by developing adult-oriented material for Vertigo, much of which appealed more broadly to audiences outside of the comic shop than the superhero fare. In more recent years, graphic novels from mainstream publishers have become big business, outselling traditional comics publishers by huge margins in part because of their bookstore distribution and easy accessibility.
Miller first expressed a desire to write a "Nancy Drew-style" Carrie Kelley story during a 2015 interview with ComicBook.com.
“Well, to me, she always has had the potential for longevity," Miller said. "I would love to do a series — in fact, I intend to do a series of her and her alone that would be very much like a comic book Nancy Drew series. It would be her detective stories. They would be smaller-sized, they would be designed to that they could be, even though they would be comic books, they would be comic books for children. That’s something I intend to do. Just picture a small figure of Robin on a cover holding a magnifying glass.”
“Frank is a creative force in this industry, not just with a transformative take on iconic characters like Superman and Batman, but also by tackling the young reader genre,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio. “He is an icon. As a publisher, I’m thrilled—as a fan, I’m even more excited.”
“Frank Miller is an absolute visionary,” said DC Publisher Jim Lee. “He continues to push the boundaries of storytelling, and I can’t wait for a new generation of fans to meet Carrie Kelley. Joining Frank as collaborator on Carrie Kelley is one of my favorite artists--Ben Caldwell, a singular talent who brings his stylized, clean line and rock solid, playful storytelling to this project. We couldn’t ask for a better creative team.”
In addition to the above two books, Miller will pen three additional upcoming projects yet to be announced.