The ever reclusive, simply elusive, always exclusive Lynn Varley

The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)As I’ve mentioned before, one of the very first comic books I purchased was The Dark Knight Returns.  I hadn’t really paid attention much to comics when I was younger, maybe reading some friends’ Hot Stuff, Archie, war, and superhero comics here and there, so TDKR was a big surprise. The format alone (book-bound, vibrant art, mature storytelling, mini-series) was unusual and captivating to me. But, with only four books in the series to dive into, I wanted more so I chased down other works by the creative team: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley. A comic book store clerk suggested Ronin, which Miller and Varley had done (sans Janson) a few years earlier. Although published by DC, Ronin was a creator-driven project that had no connection to the DC universe. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy story with eastern themes. Trippy and complex psychologically. Worth recommending.

Ronin, DC Comics

Anyway, one of the primary reasons I fell in love with The Dark Knight Returns and Ronin was the richness of the colors throughout the books. The reds (I love red) were so vivid. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with improvements to printing technology, but the colorist, Lynn Varley, clearly had supreme talent.

The Dark Knight Returns

So, I asked around to see what else he or she (Lynn could be either, right?) had done. Nobody knew nothin’. I found a couple of Lone Wolf and Cub books (which weren’t really interesting to me) with his or her name on it, but that was pretty much it.

Ronin, DC mini-series

Sure. Why not for a change?

Then, along came the World Wide Web. Eventually, I got around to searching for “Lynn Varley” but found practically nothing, again.  What little I did glean was that she was a she and that she was the wife of Frank Miller. I found a couple of additional credits, but for the most part I had no idea who this color magician was.

The Dark Knight Returns

Lynn scored the slang used by Carrie in the Dark Knight Returns. She left a unique imprint on the dialogue just as Anthony Burgess did in A Clockwork Orange.

Anyway, now it’s 2013 and one would think that anything and everything that there is to say about anything and everything would be easily accessible through Google. Think again. Go try to find some details about Lynn Varley. Other than discovering that she and Frank divorced in 2005, and that she colored some additional stuff for Frank (300, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, details about her are very difficult to nail down.

Superman from The Dark Knight Returns

C’mon, look at those colors! Once you get past Clark’s massive man mammaries, you will notice the details like the vibrancy of the butterflies’ wings and blue sky.

And it gets worse. In my search for more details about Lynn, I realized I hadn’t seen any photographs of her. I put up a valiant effort (well, that’s questionable because I have a very short attention span and I am famously lazy) and still came up blank.  Then, a couple of days ago I was reading up on the next Sin City movie and saw Happy Frank vamping around some red carpet with a dame dangling off his arm. The picture descriptions noted that the dame was Lynn Varley. Here is one of those pictures, along with my patented idiotic vandalism.

Kimberly Halliburton Cox and Frank Miller

Trouble is, that’s not Lynn Varley. It’s Kimberly Halliburton Cox, a Shakespeare scholar, and purportedly a hairless, pasty chimp.* Kim has been with Frank since they stumbled into each other at ShopRite Liquors in Hoboken in 2007. Their torrid affair has included several indictments for domestic abuse, rabble-rousing, public nuisances involving alcohol, and a bunch of other minor crimes I don’t want to bother making up. Kim had a turn at acting as a minor character in the unfortunate rendition of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. Just sayin’. Not sure what, but … I’m just sayin’.

Kimberly Halliburton Cox

This is NOT Lynn Varley, dammit.

* So, the story goes that Kimberly Halliburton Cox apparently didn’t much care for one of her boyfriend’s employees. She went ape-shit (really; that’s the reason for the chimp reference) and spread her feces across the desk of the maligned employee. Now, now. There are always two (or more) sides to a story. Of course there is the possibility that the former employee, Joanna Gallardo-Mills, may have committed horrible acts of her own. But we don’t know that. And she’s not the one being sued. And … seriously? Who strips off their underwear and puts it along with a used tampon in an employee’s work space? And, is the act of throwing telephones at people ever a good idea in the work place? This kind of craziness reminds me of another loony comic book matron, Nancy Silberkleit. Anyway, read more on this bizarre story.

Be aware that, although rare, the Internet is occasionally wrong. Maybe there’s another side to this story we’re not hearing. Maybe Perez Hilton did something on it. Maybe some day I’ll care enough to go look again.

Lynn Varley, Kimberly Halliburton Cox

Anyway, long story shorter, I rolled up my sleeves and found a few obscure pictures of this very difficult to locate woman. Lynn, if you catch wind of this post and aren’t too camera-shy to do so, please (1) post some additional pictures of yourself preferably in the act of coloring stuff, and (2) give us some more opportunities to enjoy your work (preferably not with Frank – we’re pissed off at him at the moment due to his insane banter about the Occupy Wall Street movement).

Lynn Varley, comic book colorist

This is the real Lynn Varley. The photo is obscured and she is seen in profile only. Press on. You’ll notice a disturbing trend.
As for Frank, he has a always considered himself some sort of Comic Book Deity. Here’s Frank during his “I’m bigger than Jesus” phase.

Frank Miller

This legionnaire from Asterix reminded me of Frank Miller. Did you know that Frank co-wrote the screenplay for Robocop 2? Did you know he had a minor part in it as a scientist. His character gets killed off unceremoniously by the bad guy.

Lynn Varley

Lynn Varley. Again, blurred picture and this time her face is slightly obscured by a water bottle.

Frank Miller at a signing party

Lynn Varley. And again, only partially viewable face.
Incidentally, Frank’s surly stare is due to an eye condition called Stinkeyesitus.

Lynn VarleyOh, c’mon! What? Is Lynn akin to Bigfoot? The Loch Ness Monster? Was she going for the whole Shroud of Turin look in the picture to the left? We’re seriously beginning to wonder if Lynn is in the Witness Protection Program. Wikipedia has nothing more than a stub on Lynn and … surprise, surprise … no picture.  C’mon Wikipedia! I paid my $5 donation, dammit!

Lynn Varley

Oh, for goodness sake. Finally! This may not be a current picture, but at least we have an unobstructed view of Lynn Varley. And, Frank Miller’s ubiquitous brooding face. And the other guy. Sorry folks, we don’t have source information or the ID for the other member of this triumvirate. Feel free to comment and update our information.

Here’s a comprehensive (we can only suppose) list of credits for Lynn.

Awesome Red Comic Book Covers, because … why not?

The color RedWe like red. There, we’ve said it. Out of the bag, it is.  Here are some of our favorite comic book covers that are soaked in red. What a beautiful color.

Amazing Spider-man #50: Iconic image. Our pick for best Spider-man cover. Yes, ever. What’s inside? 1st appearance of Kingpin and a soul searching that leads Peter Parker to throw away his suit and figure he is done with vigilantism for good.  Of course, he is sucked back in because — “WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!”

Amazing Spider-man

The Avengers #57: Pretty much as red as you can get. No other colors on this cover other than black and white and they only serve as shadow and light respectively. What’s inside? The 1st appearance of The Vision (who is a very cool character … most of the time).

First appearance of The VIsion

Frank Miller’s Ronin # 1: Frank Miller’s art took a weird turn in Ronin. His personal project was pretty far out there compared to the more mainstream work he had done on Daredevil. We were already fans when we picked up Ronin as back issues because The Dark Knight Returns had just come out and we wanted to find anything by Frank that we could get our hands on. Anyway, besides the billowing eastern get-up, we like the look of this cover with all the thatching and, of course, the wonder color red.

Frank Miller, comic book

Mage: The Hero Discovered #10: Issue number 7 of Mage was the first comic book we ever bought. The maxi-series is still one of our favorites. The technology today is so much more advanced than in 1985, but the vibrancy of the four-color printing on Baxter paper that was the rage in the 1980s blew us away. This issue also has a lot of red in it and for that we are grateful.

Matt Wagner, Comico, and Mage

Punisher War Zone #1: The 1990s was the Dreadful Decade of the Gimmick. We will write a future post on that but suffice it to say that after a fantastic run of experimental, creator-driven stories and art in the 1980s, the early 1990s were all about the collectability side of the comic book hobby. Pure garbage was coming out right and left and in order to hook the consumer, comic book publishers turned to technologies that were already making an impact on the ugly step-sister of the collectibles hobby (sports cards) for flash and pizzazz that they hoped would compensate for the terrible stories inside. Covers often became the only reason to buy a comic book. Chromium and lenticular surfaces were big “wows” as were die cuts like this comic. Of course, the prices jumped like crazy for the increasingly not-so-special “special” books. The $2.25 price tag on this issue was a dollar more than the average cover price in 1992 when this was released. That was a lot back then. Anyway, we have to admit we really liked this cover. Still do.

The Punisher War Zone (1992 series)

Mister X Volume 3 #4: This comic book came to our attention because we had fallen in love with Stig’s Inferno and since Vortex was the publisher of both, there was an ad for Mister X in one of the Inferno issues. It was some of the most stylish stuff we’d seen to date and the covers were fantastic. Later, the rights to the series migrated to Caliber Comics. We bought those issues but still haven’t read them – no idea why, just haven’t. Anyway, this is one of many good covers and it’s also our favorite of the outstanding red ones (Volume 1 #1 and Volume 1 #12 (the later of which is our favorite cover overall by creator Dean Motter) are also fantastic). Take a look at all of the covers in this gallery.

Mister X in Caliber Comics

Rocketeer Adventures #2: This is a reprint of Dave Stevens’ fan-favorite comic book from the 1980s. We love the art, the stories, and we are even proud to admit we love the Rocketeer movie (even though it was Disney-fied). This gorgeous Art Deco cover demonstrates why the Rocketeer is a comic worth admiring.

IDW publisher, Rocketeer

So, there you have it. This was just a small snapshot of some fantastic red-colored covers that we love. Which one do you like best? You’re welcome to comment on other red covers you really like.

Thank you and good night!