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Black silohuettes - who used them first before Miller?

16 posts in this topic

The recent HA auction featured a DKR page with Superman depicted through a black silouhette:

Frank Miller and Klaus Janson The Dark Knight Returns, Chapter | Lot #92031 | Heritage Auctions

The auction did quite well and got me thinking who used this technique first? It is not just using a black figure, but using a black figure with some elements in white to add a dramatic touch.  Obviously Miller perfected this technique with his mastery of negative space, but what are the earlier examples?

I have a  Giffen example (circa 1977) that comes close (blackened face + white eyes).

Keith Giffen - Defenders 45 - page 22 - Valkyrie - Hellcat - Red Guardian, in Carlo M's Keith Giffen Comic Art Gallery Room (comicartfans.com)

Any ideas as to who came first?


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Silhouettes with or without highlights are as old as india ink. If you're still interested in pursuing "first", I'll suggest going to the newspaper strip artists.

Maybe Chester Gould's Tracy?

Meanwhile, I've never looked that closely at DKR before. But the example you're mentioning...shoot, I can see why this stuff sat at $800/page in 1987.

Original Comic Art:Story Page, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson The Dark Knight Returns, Chapter Four: The Dark Knight Falls Story Page 11 Original ...

Take away that bottom Superman panel and the general hype for the book...it's a $50 page back then.

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Thanks to everybody contributing.  I can see that the technique was defintely used pre-super hero. Anybody aware of examples in early Marvel super hero comics?  I don't recall the Kirbys, Adamses, Buscemas etc using this.  So I guess Miller's point was he took inspiration from noir comics in doing super hero stuff.

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