Robot 6

Frank Miller, conservative comment-thread commentator

Frank Miller and Eva Mendes (photo by UGO.com's Dr. Know)

Frank Miller and Eva Mendes (photo by UGO.com's Dr. Know)

He’s one of the most influential comics creators of all time (and my personal favorite, might I add), but Frank Miller has kept a pretty low profile since the critical and box-office failure of his adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit last Christmas. He’s reportedly continued to work on scripts for his Jim Lee collaboration All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder and the sequel to the Sin City film adaptation he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez; and of course there’s his long-gestating graphic novel that may or may not be about Batman fighting al Qaeda and may or may not be called Holy Terror, Batman! But whatever he’s been up to, he’s been up to it incommunicado, turning down requests for interviews.

That’s why you may be surprised to discover where he has been publicly speaking, albeit in brief snippets: the blog of neoconservative pundit and military historian Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson and Miller have been friendly for years, with Miller using Hanson’s work on ancient Greece as a reference for his Eisner-winning comic 300 and Hanson returning the favor by providing an introduction for 300: The Art of the Film.

Miller’s comments at Hanson’s online hangout were first widely noticed this week, when the cartoonist and director responded to a Hanson post complaining that pervasive liberal influence and cultural decadence had driven him away from the bulk of American popular entertainment. Miller’s comment-thread response encouraged Hanson to take heart, noting the talents of several Sin City, 300, and The Spirit stars, as well as action-franchise leads like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Harrison Ford. Miller went on to invite Hanson to a get-together with the Friends of Abe, a group founded by actor Gary Sinise as a sort of support system for conservatively inclined Hollywood talent.

Doing a little detective work, Comics Commentary’s Rodrigo Baeza dug up several more comments from Miller at Hanson’s blog. The topics range from the casting of Gabriel Macht in The Spirit‘s lead role to how “horrible for my country [the then-pending election of Barack Obama] will be” to later asking that people at least give Obama a chance before freaking out to railing against anonymous commenters. (Click over to Baeza’s blog for a best-of collection.)

Agree or disagree, Miller’s comments (and indeed his very choice of venue) provide an interesting insight into the current state of mind of a comics giant who’s been working at more and more of a remove from the ebb and flow of comics culture.

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Comments

24 Comments

James B Elkins II

October 22, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Current state of mind? More and more of a remove? I submit that this is the same brilliant mind that brought us The Dark Knight. I think that, much like Alan Moore, Frank Miller marches to his own drum beat, choosing to be an island in the “ebb and flow” of comics culture.

Further more… what’s your point? That Mr. Miller is a conservative? You’ve read Dark Knight & 300 and yet you seem to suggest that this is a revelation to you, or that he’s changed his tune. Perhaps I mis-read the tone of your article, and in that case I apologize.

However, I do submit that Mr. Miller has repeatedly demonstrated that while he may be of a conservative bent, he is opposed to any rigidly dogmatic philosophy or group. I think thats it.

I always feel pity for anyone who can believe that Obama could be a worse president than either Bush….

That point-of-view tells more about the generator than it does about the subject matter….

Sean T. Collins

October 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm

James: I promise you you mis-read the tone of the article. As I tried to establish in the first paragraph, the point is simply that Miller hasn’t spoken to the press in months, so yeah, these comments offer a glimpse into his “current state of mind” that we can’t get through interviews, since none exist during that timeframe. It’s not his POV that surprised me so much as the simple fact that he’s out there talking someplace.

At any rate, I bow to no one in the “I love Frank Miller” sweepstakes. Go ahead and get me started on the genius of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, I dare ya, I double dare ya.

Goodbye, Frank Miller. If the narcissism of All-Star Batman & Robin weren’t enough, to find out he’s a half-closeted wingnut is enough to forgo any further purchases of his work, past or present.

I had an inkling from the homophobic, and historically incorrect, tone of 300, but this cinches the deal.

Oh, and Pajamas Media is the same organization that hired “Joe the Plummer” to report from Iraq.

Bye, Frank. Enjoy your golden years, fantasizing of your imaginary dreamworld where all women are hookers and all men spit nails.

I was wondering why Sin City and 300 were so good…how greatness actually happened in our age of tired mediocrity and weakness worshipping. Now I know. They were made by a man who still has his balls attached.

I’ve known that about Miller for quite awhile, even though in MY mind it seems to run counter to what he was doing in The Dark Knight Returns (YMMV on that one, but given how he made Supes a puppet of Reagan’s propaganda I’ll stand by that assessment)… I don’t agree with him on much of anything these days, I’m sure, but it won’t take anything away from some of the great work he did in the past. I just think he’s lost his mind, as any of his more recent work proves (and I’m throwing Dark Knight Strikes Again in there), and he probably drinks way too much too. Which might be part of the problem, actually.

Then again, I haven’t snuggled up with Eva Mendes recently…. That sonuvabitch.

“At any rate, I bow to no one in the “I love Frank Miller” sweepstakes. Go ahead and get me started on the genius of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, I dare ya, I double dare ya.”

Taking this bet!

Sean T. Collins

October 22, 2009 at 5:50 pm

You’re on! Keep your eye on savagecritic.com …

If Miller does in fact think that the “neocons” are correct, I disagree with him, a lot. (And i do in fact disagree, a lot, with both Bush *and* Obama, who has retained in his administration many of the neocons who served Bush, and continued many of Bush’s most odious policies re: wiretapping, the security state, etc.) But I’d never write off his work because of that disagreement. He’s not my enemy. Hurting him doesn’t help me or the things I believe in. Ditto for, say, Brian K. Vaughan, even though I understand that his comic Ex Machina embodies other political ideas with which I also disagree. He’s not my enemy, either. Shunning him wouldn’t elevate the things I value. (And it would rob me of Y: The Last Man, which I greatly enjoy.) I think that anathematizing people who disagree with us only makes us more susceptible to being fooled by the charlatans who pretend to represent our interests; and decreases our understanding of, and empathy towards, other human beings.

This post would be incomplete without noting that Sean T. Collins voted for Bush in 2004.

Ohhhh – I can’t wait for the DKSA review on Savage Critics. I am a big defender of the work as well, but my argument always falls apart at the end (like the book).

James B Elkins II

October 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Sean: That’s cool. I was just saying is all. I’ll let you duke it out with david brothers for the “I Love Frank” title. …. and Savage Critic is now in my favorites.

TonyJazz, nice job with your closed-mindedness.

Obama is already far worse than either Bush in a very important area: the deficit.

That is a fact.

“”I always feel pity for anyone who can believe that Obama could be a worse president than either Bush…”

Well, if the first nine months is any indication of what is to come, I don’t see why anyone would find it hard to believe. Obama has been an absolute embarrassment.

Sean, I don’t know if you saw, but I did a two-part DKSA post-mortem here and here. Bring it on.

I just think he’s lost his mind, as any of his more recent work proves

Yup, that has been my opinion for a while now. Not sure exactly when his brain asploded (pretty sure it was either on 9/11 or during the Clinton impeachment), but everything he’s written since ‘Big Guy and Rusty’ is just terrible. I was excited for ‘All Star Batman’, but NOPE, turned out to suck.

But I’d never write off his work because of that disagreement.

Well, no. Plenty of creators I like whose views I don’t. But I hate it when I’m looking for a good exciting story, and instead get a barely-disguised political lecture or lame half-assed “allegory” about this modern world of ours and oh my isn’t it awful how men aren’t real men anymore and on and on and etc.

Cole Moore Odell

October 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I for one am shocked that Frank Miller’s world view and politics sound like something out of a comic book for pubescent boys. It just doesn’t add up.

Irwin: I definitely deserve to be reminded of and shamed for that from time to time, although for some reason it’s always by pseudonymous commenters. At least I always put my name to my crazy, stupid, malicious ideas, man.

Miller’s politics and opinions are lamentable and a bit repugnant but, at the very least, the guy could find a more constructive outlet than comment-section flame wars.

Use your real name or be known as a coward!! Stand and fight me, sir!!

Anyone want to predict a Zell Miller-style challenge to duel?

Wow, am I late for THIS party!

ASBAR was a farce from the beginning. No, really. Haven’t you figured it out? The tongue-in-cheek humor? Miller spent almost the entire series so far making fun of the various quirks in Batman’s 70-year history. Only SOME of the story was stupid on accident (Nazi-boobs in the hotel hall? Really?). I thought ASBAR was hilarious and thrilling. It was like a roller-coaster for me; my heart-rate would actually pick up drastically from page-to-page–something that hadn’t happened to me since I read TDKR.

Now, Miller himself: He’s not crazy. Like me, he’s a Rand fan. A Neo-Objectivist at best, a Randroid at worst. If any of you condescending nerds are willing to read 1000+ pages of Capitalist ethics (Heh…), you’ll realize that BOTH Dark Knights drew heavily on Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. The graphic novel “Martha Washington Goes to War” essentially copies the entire plot. The place where the cops go to try to kill Robin in ASBAR is called “Galt’s Gulch”, named after the novel’s hero. It has remained a permanent location in the Batman series. Miller has publicly announced his affection and credit to Ayn Rand’s work. I guarantee you, she was more fair than either leading party is willing to admit.

I would love very much to compare lines from his graphic novels and Rand’s novels, but I doubt I can hold anyone’s attention long enough for a philosophical discussion.

So as it was said by someone else, none of this should be news. This is, and always has been, Frank Miller. He’s not a Fascist, or even a Republican. He’s a Libertarian: “Free minds and free markets.” No tradition or taboo gets in the way of logic, and the government stays the hell away from business (unless they break contracts or violate the natural rights of others). Libertarians are generally much more tolerant than Republicans and Democrats, but that might just be because they spread the hate around.

They dislike conservatives because many of them let religion get in the way of logic and (in the case of homosexuality) tolerance. They are closed-minded on many important issues and fail to provide more credibility for ethical arguments than “God says”. The Conservatives who don’t live at Church are really scrappy, and Libertarians find many of them too trigger-happy in foreign relations. But because most of them wear fuzzy sweaters, talk politely, and don’t riot [VIOLENTLY] in the streets, Libertarians usually don’t bother much with them. Oh, and Conservatives usually support laissez-faire Capitalism, which is an enormous plus.

They dislike Liberals because they make-up “rights” that, by their very nature, NULLIFY the natural rights already guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s a kinder, friendlier Communism to them. Libertarians see Liberals as so inclined to guarantee equality that they destroy even what it means to BE exceptional, destroying the image, the incentive–the potential–for even mediocre men to stand out. Libertarians are all about the individual, who always comes last in Liberal ideology. Because it pervades so much of American culture and government, they are, admittedly, the most often condemned by Libertarians

So that’s Frank, or at least someone a lot like him. (Don’t tell me I have no right to describe his ideology; I have as much a right to analyze him as anyone does to call him a “wingnut”) The reason TDKSA sucked was because there was too much going on. He mixed a complex political thriller with a million obscure and often lame superheroes/villains. The pages were LITERALLY unreadable, the way the art and the text was arranged. I had no idea what was happening. He recycled the coolest stuff from TDKR and kept the exact same themes. The latter was not the mistake, because that’s what helped sell his stories for the past 30…ish…years. It was just ugly and confusing. Sorry, Frank.

because the trickle down and less government policies installed by Reagan and reinforced by Clinton brought the american economy to the current situation. That is how good that idea was…
It is just a fact, if you let big companies doing things without any government oversight nothing good comes out of it ( go to the gulf of Mexico and give a look at ). They will cut costs wherever they can for major profit no matter the consequences. That is just the way corporations work through economical principles not ethical ones.
after all that is why you ellect a government to begin with. So at least in principle you have some influence over the direction of the country through your vote. You expect your ellected representative to protect interests you agree and believe instead of ‘let big corporations do whatever they want without any sort of control like the country belongs to them’. It turns into taxation without representation.

But this is not an economical forum and I really think all this political discourse doesn’t really apply to Miller these days ( and questionable how much it did apply back in the eighties ).
His current work doesn’t carry any level of depth beyond:
-A tough guy
-A sexy slut
-and the villain is gay

300 was that, Sin City was that even Spirit was that.
No doubt his Holy Terror book will be a variation of these 3 elements.
Other random issues he may add are just to increase dramatic effect over these 3 elements without an in-depth political comment we would get of a better writer as Alan Moore or Grant Morrison.
Everybody understood his All Star Batman was a joke. The problem is that it was not a good one.
Come on, his artwork may be awesome but as a writer he is being a slacker.

As far as I understand he is just playing this 3 elements card over and over again and treating the readers as cash cows.
No wonder so many of his long time fans, myself included, feel betrayed.

His current work is based on impressive visuals without any depth comparable to Daredevil: Born Again or Batman Year One. I do not believe he couldn’t write such good books again but what I see is that he is not putting any honest effort into it.
If he is avoiding interviews as fas as I understand it is just to save face after the Spirit’s fiasco and beginning to question himself of ‘maybe those critics people have been saying are true?”

all the same I haven’t been snuggling with Eva Mendes either…
sunavabitch

Grant Morrison good? More like hack, who just throws “hero character can do anything without explanation” around alot. Not compelling, Not well characterized and way too unrealistic, even for a comic book. Oh, and don’t get me started on lazy character writing, COMPLETE lack of understanding of anything political or his obsessive way of pushing his life history on characters without any proper development. X = Y because i said so and my girl friend dumped me. So that should happen in continuity. Crap. His JLA was pretty good, but after that he’s hardly written anything worth 25 cents. Miller’s just having fun and being himself. I love how people who disagree with Libs are suddenly fascists. GROW UP LIBS. you can’t tell people to fight for what they believe and then chastise them as Nazis for it. Stop trying to alter life to you F@#@d up perception of it and get over your issues. And yes, crippling America’s posiion, while spending more than WW2, THE NEW DEAL, AND THE MARSHAL PLAN in 2 years is WORSE THAN BUSH. and hey, anyone remember Obama using homeland security to scrutinize anyone who disagrees with him? or trying to sneak in legislation when he said he’d be transparent? but hey i transgress. its not like there’s any good comics anymore. Except mabey Hickmans. At least he knows what he’s doing.

Spit wads at twenty paces.

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