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.


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9 thoughts on “The ever reclusive, simply elusive, always exclusive Lynn Varley”

    1. Thanks. Yeah, it would be nice to have everyone get the credit they deserve. Lynn Varley has been overshadowed by Frank (maybe by choice) but his iconic early books just wouldn’t have been the same without her.

  1. lynn was my best friend in high school in livonia mich. we had an on again off again friendship until she totally disappeared a about 2003. i have been searching and searching for her ever since.she always loved her privacy but no she is nowhere to be found

  2. Great article – since I read TDKR I always wondered about the elusive Lynn Varley. One comment though, liberals just can’t stop whining about Frank Miller’s “Occupy Wall Street” statements. blah blah blah – Get over it. If you don’t like his work, fine – there’s a lot there to criticize. But he’s entitled to an opinion just as much as Norm Breyfogle or Jon Bogdonave or the other loud left-wingers who are 99% of the comics industry. And, Miller happened to be right about OWS, btw.

    1. Thanks for the comments. Yeah, I wish Lynn would get back into the mix.

      Frank Miller’s opinions on OWS are part of the great social debate that is only possible in a democratic community that values free speech. My left-leaning opinions (although I would prefer to think of them as centrist), include a concern about letting all voices be heard. I would have been alarmed if Frank’s comments somehow had been repressed by leftists. It doesn’t matter that I agree or disagree with him. He, Norm, Jon, Ty, Tony, Jill, Alan, and even Rob deserve to express freely. And I’m also free to think Frank is nuts.

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