MARTHA THOMASES: Frank Miller Bounceback

Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases brought more comics to the attention of more people than anyone else in the industry. Her work promoting The Death of Superman made an entire nation share in the tragedy of one of our most iconic American heroes. As a freelance journalist, she has been published in the Village Voice, High Times, Spy, the National Lampoon, Metropolitan Home, and more. For Marvel comics she created the series Dakota North. Martha worked as a researcher and assistant for the author Norman Mailer on several of his books, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Executioner's Song, On Women and Their Elegance, Ancient Evenings, and Harlot's Ghost.

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20 Responses

  1. Peter David says:

    As someone who has been repeatedly had declarations of boycotts leveled against him, not to mention being tossed onto blacklists because I dared say something that ran counter to someone's agenda, obviously I agree. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a country where people are all for the concept of free speech…for themselves. But the moment they hear someone of public note saying something with which they disagree, the default reaction is to say, "I'm never supporting this artist ever again." Hell, I've even had people–usually extreme conservatives–right to Marvel or DC (when I was working there) urging them to cease employing me altogether. Isn't that amazing? The thinking that goes into, "We don't like his opinion. But it's not enough that we're going to stop reading his work, even though it doesn't reflect his viewpoints; we're going to try and get him fired off his current assignments."

    I wonder how many people would like it if I tracked down where they worked and went to their boss saying, "Your employee is going around and trying to cripple my livelihood, and he's doing it while using your company computer on company time. Can't say as I appreciate that."


    • Martha Thomases says:

      Actually, free speech means I can respond to whatever you say. If I choose to boycott you, I can. That's also free speech.

      The First Amendment is not there to stifle disagreements. It's to encourage them. That said, one should choose one's boycotts carefully and effectively. I doubt Ron Perelman notices my absence.

    • @j_r_kerr says:

      Et tu Peter David? "Free speech" is not a catch all excuse. We all know we're not allowed to freely transmit instructions to make WMDs. The southern law poverty center does not profile every single reader of racist literature: it profiles the authors.
      I will agree with you defenders of free speech on just a few points. Occupiers being called trustafarians is angering but dismissable. Ignorance about apple's quasi-sponsorship is simply ignorance. Frank doesn't realize that 200,000,000 people in 1,000 cities across 82 countries stood outside in solidarity to get their picture taken on October 15th. Furthermore Frank doesn't realize that Occupy Hong Kong protested Apple because harsh working conditions have led to multiple suicides.

      • @j_r_kerr says:

        But then… we move past wrongheadedness and into libel. The persons raped were Occupier women. Frank casts indictments about rapists as if Occupiers loaded into a car like fraternity boys and went cruising the nightclubs looking for some drunk girl to abduct and pull a train on. Thats not what happened. All six men guilty of raping Occupier women were arrested. Thats far better that the number of arrested fraternity boys. Will Frank be warning women to stay away from colleges next!? Is he the relic of patriarchal protection that women have been praying for? No. No. No.

        • @j_r_kerr says:

          The last most important bit of libelous bullshit to call Frank out for is that he fancies himself a regular Abraham Lincoln telling oppressed peoples to enlist (even though Frank didn't) and earn their freedom and respect. This clearly did not work for Abe, and it didn't work for Frank Capra making Official War Film #51 "The Negro Soldier." American black folks earned their respect by following the prescription of Booker T Washington to sell culturally unique capital. Segregate, integrate, or capitalize: the three possible strategies capable of addressing black disparity. Frank, since he is no other kind of activist, and merely a face painting clown cartoonist with a tin cup…

          • @j_r_kerr says:

            should only ever dare address the lack of finding something to buy or not buy in response to the Occupy Locations. This item should be screamingly obvious to him. There are 30,000,000 guy fawkes masks sold since the beginning of OWS. The sale of these masks have shot Time Warner stock to $70 a share.
            Therefore it is the duty of anyone who can see the way Frank is losing control to alcoholism and ignoring the news to launch a libelous smear against his parent company to recognize that Frank is hurting himself. It is absolutely the time for an intervention. It is not the time to quibble over what we are free to say. He is clearly losing his mind.

      • SDM says:

        "We all know we're not allowed to freely transmit instructions to make WMDs. "
        WE should be allowed. Having knowledge of a thing should not be prohibited. Actually making use of that knowledge to build a bomb (or whatever) and hurt someone, yeah that's a big punishable no-no. But knowing how to do it? Nope.

  2. Rene says:

    Frank Miller is the guy that "called people names" first, Martha.

    I mean, "pond scum"?

    I don't really understand the industry insiders that are condemning people for blasting Frank. As if he had the right to call people names, but people were wrong for hitting back.

    When you act like an asshole, don't be surprised when other assholes do the same for you.

    • SDM says:

      Ah, yes. The "he did it first" justification.

      • Rene says:

        No justification, just explaining to Frank's defenders that actions engender reactions.

        Personally, I didn't call him names. I don't respect him enough to get worked up over whatever he says.

  3. jjchandler says:

    I would tend to agree on the stupidity of boycotting Miller. Granted, that's easy for me to say since I haven't been over the moon about a lot of his more recent work and not buying it to begin with, but I'm not going to not buy something he writes down the road that I do find myself enjoying or not watch something based on his works just because I disagree with what he said or how he said it. That's just plain ignorant and an act that cuts my nose off to spite my face.

    I don't agree with some of the major stands taken and statements made (both Left leaning and Right leaning) by most of the writers, singers, actors and directors out there. Some I've found down right repugnant. If I cut their works out of my entertainment libraries, well, I'd have damn few things left to enjoy and in many cases I would have to also stop enjoying the work of other people who just happened to work with the person in question whether I have an issue with them or not.

    Besides, I daresay it's a safe bet that most of the people talking about boycotting Miller's works and wanting to see his works pulled from shelves were some of the loudest voices decrying the Right's actions during the entire Dixie Chicks flap started from Maines saying, "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." If you say/think it's wrong when done to someone you like or agree with, then you're wrong for wanting to see it done here.

    On the name calling though… Whatever. I've known and know of some very strong and consistent defenders of other people's freedom of speech and freedom of expression who have absolutely no issue at all with pointing out when that person's expression of that freedom makes them come off as a moron or an outright asshole and/or questioned that person's family tree and whether or not there are more straight lines than branches in it. If Miller wants to say something that makes him look like an ignorant schmuck, I see no reason to not say that he's saying something that makes him look like an ignorant schmuck.

  4. kplanx says:

    Martha, I think you missed the point in Miller's comments and in the reaction to them.

    Most people I've spoken with about it, and most boards I've trolled, seem to be offended not so much with his POV, but his juvenile way of expressing it — never mind the fact that he proved himself to be clearly and completely uninformed about the issue. I know several people against OWS for reasonable, understandable reasons — Frank Miller is most definitely not one of them.

    And there are plenty of reasons to boycott Frank Miller — including his utter disdain for his fans. Not only have I personally heard Miller state, in an aside to a publicist at a convention when he thought no one could hear, that he has "zero respect" for the people who buy his works, but much of his last several years of work — especially the incredibly lazy Holy Terror where white-out made something old purportedly new again — seem to prove it.

    Which is a terrible shame. Perhaps he's going through some personal or creative struggles — I don't know.

    • Martha Thomases says:

      It was not my intention to tell people how to feel. Would that I could. We'd all get along better.

      That said, I don't want to descend into name-calling. I don't want to assume the worst about someone (except possibly Dick Cheney).

      More important, I get to do my little superior dance when I'm behaving impeccably.

      • kplanx says:

        Hmmm…This is a reply to MY post?

        Sorry if I misspoke (mistyped)…I in no way stated you were telling people how to feel. As said, I don't believe Miller's opinion was what put him at fault, it was the way in which he worded it. I feel this is a fair statement.

        As for the name calling…again, unclear. I refer to him as "uninformed" based on his own commentary. It seems awfully clear to me he formed an opinion based on limited exposure to the facts. (Comparatively, when Herman Cain comments on, say, immigration or Libya's uprising, one can immediately discern he's not fully aware of the facts on those issues.)

        Again, it's not that Miller doesn't support OWS, it's what he said about it which informs me on his knowledge (or lack thereof) about it. And considering he expressed his opinions by calling people names, for reasons of which I feel he is clearly uninformed; to me, that's juvenile. As in: That is what children do.

        Sorry if that was unclear.

        So while you remained restrained, and I stuck to the facts as I saw them, the only person resorting to name calling … was Frank.

        Finally, I'd like to see some video of your little superiority dance. Is it anything like Snoopy's Happy Feet dance? Does it resemble the Watusi? Please provide further info.


  5. Markus says:

    Martha, thank you.

  6. mike weber says:

    If a creator says something incredibly stupid about Real World politics, which the comments here (not to mention the original column) lead me to believe Miller has, well, that's irrelevant to his work, and if i like his work, and he doesn't start using it to push a political agenda i don't like, well, i'll keep buying and reading his work.

    (Steve Ditko came close to pushing me away with his Objectivist rants a couple times, for instance.)

    But if i don't like his unrelated-to-his-work political rants, i just don't have to read 'em. (For a long time there were generally several pages in the back of each issue of Cerebus that i didn't even bother to glance at…)

    OTOH, i've been pretty much boycotting Miller's work for quite a while because most of what i've seen from him for years has been pretty much doggie poo.

    Which would be a complimentary term to apply to that travesty he committed when he pissed on his "friend and mentor" Will Eisner's grave.

    • Steven E. McDonald says:

      I don't consider THE SPIRIT to be Miller pissing on Eisner's grave. Good grief. Yes, it was a bad film from a declining artist/writer, but it wasn't meant to be any sort of insult to Eisner, nor was it. It tried to capture some of the strip's spirit, overreached, and was soundly panned for its failings (even so, some people actually did like it.) I don't think it was overall any worse than the previous attempt to do The Spirit (as a TV pilot.)

      I frankly think Miller was an idiot in what he expressed about OWS. It's practically the astroturf commenter script, and almost as though he's parroting Fox News. I'm not going to try and censor him, though — much better to let him drive off the cliff in full view, using his own base as the launch point.

      Dioes it inspire me to boycott his work, or call for a boycott? No, it doesn't. There's always going to be fanboys who will vacuum up everything Miller, and there's going to be people like me who even separating the art from the views of the artist, won't bother with the art any more because the quality has declined so much without any evident goal or thesis in that decline (unlike, for instance, Miller's design intent in the Sin City books.) Whatever drives Miller is being fed unvarnished through his work more and more, which seems to be damaging what he produces (some people can use their personal passions and beliefs to produce stunning work; Miller's work is tending to be stunningly awful or stunningly offensive, and often both.)

  7. mindyp51 says:

    Okay, I read Frank's blog.

    Wow! I had heard that Frank is pretty reactionary, but this is beyond that….this is Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gringrich by way of K Street, Americans for Prosperity, and American Crossroads just about verbatim!

    And speaking of the Newt, I'm listening to the man who handed his second wife divorce papers as she lay dying from breast cancer in the hospital talk about OWS on Chris Matthews right now…"Go get a job right after you take a bath," Gingrich said about OWS.

    Yeah. Get a job. I'm speaking to you, Mr. Miller. How dare you criticize people when you sit in your castle in the clouds and pontificate about those who are on the edge of survival??? Enlist in the military? Where did you serve, Mr. Miller? Where's your honorable discharge?

    I think you're just worried about having to pay more taxes, you selfish bastard, after the Repugnanticans get kicked out of office in the next election.