Lynn Varley

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Lynn Varley
BornMichigan, United States
Notable works
The Dark Knight Returns
Elektra Lives Again
AwardsEisner Award, 1999
Harvey Award, 1999
Comics Buyer's Guide Award, 1986, 1999, 2000
(m. 1986; div. 2005)

Lynn Varley is an American comic book colorist, notable for her collaborations with her then-husband, comic book writer/artist Frank Miller.


Varley grew up in Livonia, Michigan.[1] Moving to New York City, she found work at Neal Adams' Continuity Associates.[2] She debuted as a comic book colorist on Batman Annual # 8 (1982), written by Mike W. Barr and penciled by her then partner Trevor Von Eeden.[3] Around the same time, she became professionally involved with Upstart Associates, a shared studio space on West 29th Street formed by Walter Simonson, Howard Chaykin, Val Mayerik, and Jim Starlin.[4] Varley colored the first two issues of Chaykin's American Flagg![2] Frank Miller later became part of Upstart.[5]

Varley provided the coloring for Miller's Ronin (1984), an experimental six-issue series from DC Comics that proved that comics in unusual formats could be commercially successful; and The Dark Knight Returns (1986), a four issue mini-series that went on to become an outstanding commercial and critical success.[6] Miller also noted that Varley helped create the futuristic slang that Carrie Kelley and other characters use.[1]

Subsequently, Varley colored other Miller books, including The Dark Knight Strikes Again, 300, Elektra Lives Again, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (with Geoff Darrow), as well as a number of covers for the U.S. editions of the Lone Wolf and Cub series. She also colored the backgrounds for the 300 movie (2007), produced by Miller.

Varley has only worked sporadically in the comics industry since 2005.

Personal life[edit]

Varley and Miller were married from 1986[7] to 2005.[8] They moved from New York City to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and moved back to New York shortly before the September 11 attacks.[7]

Style and technique[edit]

Varley’s coloring technique evolved to be greatly influenced by the introduction of software programs such as Adobe Photoshop. In the early 2000s, when Varley and Miller released The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Varley's coloring included vibrant and nearly psychedelic coloring styles, vastly different from the subtler tones used in The Dark Knight Returns. Some critics argued that Varley's inexperience with the new technology negatively affected her work, and that she would have been better off using a real brush. As comics have subsequently continued to feature more vibrant color schemes, however, Varley's earlier work has also been heralded by some as ahead of its time.[9]


Varley has received recognition in the comics industry, particularly in 1999, when she won the Harvey Award, the Eisner Award,[10] and the Comics Buyer's Guide Awards for Favorite Colorist. (She also won the CBG award in 1986 and 2000.)


  1. ^ a b "Comic book artist and writer Frank Miller," Fresh Air (November 14, 2002): "Frank Miller: 'The whole thing actually comes by way of Lynn Varley and her brothers. . . . It was a way that they spoke in their neighborhood in Livonia, Michigan. It's simply a reverse way of speaking in patterns.'"
  2. ^ a b Bayer, Josh. "'ALL Of Making Comics Is Pleasurable To Me': An Interview with Trevor Von Eeden," The Comics Journal (JUL 08, 2019).
  3. ^ Ramon Gil (14 August 2016). "Trevor Von Eeden speaks out on 40 years in the industry". Comics Creator News.
  4. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-893905-64-0. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  5. ^ Howard Chaykin: Conversations (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2011), pp. 211–212.
  6. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. It is arguably the best Batman story of all time. Written and drawn by Frank Miller (with inspired inking by Klaus Janson and beautiful watercolors by Lynn Varley), Batman: The Dark Knight revolutionized the entire genre of the super hero.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b Howe, Sean. "CULTURE: After His Public Downfall, *Sin City'*s Frank Miller Is Back (And Not Sorry)," Wired (August 20, 2014).
  8. ^ "Icon: Frank Miller Archived 2012-05-02 at the Wayback Machine",, by Johnny Davis, 27 April 2012, originally published in the February 2009 issue of British GQ, p. 2 Archived 2013-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Rich Johnston. "Frank Miller's Dark Knight Strikes Again, Published Without Lynn Varley's Colours". Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  10. ^ 1999 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees Winners at the Comic Book Award Alamanc


External links[edit]