The only thoughts I’m going to bother collecting on the whole Mark Millar business are thus:
1. I enjoyed Millar’s work when I was into superhero stuff. I’m not going to act like I think it’s suddenly bad or anything. My favorite Millar book is the Unfunnies which is a book that is one offensive thing after the next in the same sort of vein Johnny Ryan comics are(which I also enjoy)
2. I think that within the world of Millar comics it is correct to say that rape is used just as a tool to show “hey this guy is evil” in the same way that murder or decapitation is.
3. This is not something that Millar invented. Rape as a plot device is damn near a trope of the superhero genre. And while I have a problem with THAT. I don’t have a problem with Millar saying what he said, because it is fundamentally true about both his approach and the approach of maaaany writers in the genre, male and female.
4. People have the right to be offended at what they are offended at.
5. In a medium where there is very little coverage given to the best books of the medium, and most of the coverage is already heavily stilted toward books that DC/Marvel and Mark Millar—I do not believe in the utility of articles going after Mark Millar as a kind of witch hunt. Even if I were to agree with your positioning of him as a kind of modern De Sade(which I don’t). The end result of your outrage is more money in the bank for the companies you are decrying.
6. This is so because the primary demographic of people pumping money into these kind of movies and comics is straight, white, male and conservative with a huge persecution complex. So you going at them all crazy where you are trying to convince them that Mark Millar of all people is writing work that is beyond the pale—you’re not converting anyone to anything. The end result of that discussion is that everyone who already agreed with you, still agree with you, and the people who don’t rushed out to Chick-Fil-A to pour money into the thing they think you want to take from them. It didn’t work when Tipper Gore went after Hiphop. It won’t work for you to go after Mark Millar. Not on these grounds.
7. We live in a culture that WANTS to be offended. Not truly offended mind you. But this safe sanitized kind of offended, where you have to jump through three hoops to understand the actual offense. There is nothing in Mark Millar’s work that is truly transgressively beyond the pale offensive. If there were, he would not be banking so much money in hollywood. His work is offensive enough that you are talking about it, and giving him publicity—but it is not so bad that it would actually cost him box office, or readers. You are participating in a marketing scheme.
8. Comics needs real critical evaluation and discussion. Not hysterical bullshit that is more about stroking egos than it is about what is actually happening. That new republic article was a joke critically. Its analysis of Millar’s work could not have been more half-assed, or more decontextualized—and that’s the bullshit you want to rally around? But whatever. People can do what they do. React how they want to react. My reaction is just meh.
9. I feel broken. I don’t respond to these type of stories like ever. The “oh shit did you hear this terrible thing this entertainer said? oh shit did you see this terrible thing in that movie, song, game?” It’s all so mundane to me. Everyday I wake up to horrors that are so beyond my abilty to deal with them, that to even entertain that bullshit like an off-panel remark in the middle of a campy Mark Millar superhero comic actually truly disturbs me…man. I’ve been almost in tears all week because of the bullshit that Putin and those nazi assholes are putting Russian LGBT people through. I feel powerless and revolted. And you come at me with this shit? I’ve read that Nemesis comic, and know exactly the scene the article references—and holy shit, I could not care less. Kanye West wrote a sex rap over a Nina Simone song about lynchings this year. Stop bothering me with mindless bullshit.
10. Why are you people reading these comics? Why are you writing about them? Why are you talking about them? I don’t care about them. I care that you care though. It is a waste of everyone’s time and energy. People WANT what Mark Millar is making. People WANT shitty avengers and Thor movies. There is absolutely 100 percent, nothing you can do about it. People are for the most part, shitty, dumb, evil, non-caring assholes, who literally could not give a fuck. We want what we want. And in a country where politics has become the shadow puppet game played by the unnaccountable. A country where a dude can drop the info that “hey government is listening and monitoring and collecting everything you do”. In a country where the president can assassinate an american citizen without any kind of trial or due process. A country where half the country doesn’t believe in reading people their rights. Where if you are not white, you have a disproportionate chance of going to jail. A country where no one has any real political voice, and nothing you say or do changes anything, or means anything—yeah, y’know…I don’t think you’re going to really sell the majority on this Kick-Ass is a threat to society shit. Would that it were an actual threat to this society. You know they used to riot after seeing Bunuel films back in the day? You know Burroughs had to go to the supreme court to defend Naked Lunch? Do you understand what a threat would look like?
11. You’re not going to sell me on this Mark Millar is a horrible human being thing. That dude has shown me nothing but support even when I was just making shitty collage comics and couldn’t draw for shit. He used his message board constantly to try and find new talent and help them into comics. He has gotten his collaborators PAID. Against the industry standard for how to treat artists when money comes around, he is one of the guys most on top of his game ethically. I mean he is splitting out 50/50 of his producer money in movies out to his artists. In a time when a lot of artist are only getting paltry page rates while writers and publishers are banking millions.
Dude hasn’t had to work for DC or Marvel for what…4 or 5 years now? He owns his shit. Which is something that is rare in comics when it comes to successful properties. He has been open about calling for better more equal treatment of artists, and local comic book shops. He was one of the first people to openly question how DC and Marvel were splitting digital money out to artists and writers. He has worked, sometimes clumsily, but always in earnest to try and increase the space for women as creators in comics, and as decision makers. And when he fucks up what he says, I’ve never known him not to be open to engagement, and I’ve seen him change opinions through discussion.
What I’m saying is, just talking about the man, when I see him getting blasted for things which are right now in plenty of DC and Marvel books—and are not exceptional to the genre or industry—when I see him gettting blasted on that shit, and then I know that whatever you think about the content, he has been a positive force in the things I do actually care about in comics—it’s just tough for me to get on this pitchfork and torches shit.
Again. You are totally fine being offended at what you’re offended with. I agree with some of the sentiment even. So it’s not like I’m sitting here trying to be an apologist for the pervading rape culture that exists across the superhero genre in mainstream comics. BUT—what you are talking about is a systemic thing, and I do not agree with Millar as an appropriate choice as vector. I do not think it is useful on any level, beyond getting webhits to your site, or putting more dollars in Millar, DC, and Marvel’s pockets at the box office.
12. I was reading HIroaki Samura’s Brute Love and at the back there is a section where he’s trying to explain his mindset and how he made this horrifying book of just truly mind wrenchingly terrible things to women—like you want to talk about beyond the pale. This is some beyond the pale, I’ll never forget this stuff from my brain, shit. Anyways, he’s talking about how he’s not a monster or something, and he gets into this thing where he talks about this time where he had one of his models cut herself, and then he immedietely is backing off saying it was such a horrible thing to him, and he’ll never allow it to happen again—but THAT is actual realness right there. That is an artist whose art is LITERALLY harming women in its production. That’s not some off-color cartoony joke. That is some real “uh oh” kind of things. And I’m not saying “well if you think Millar is bad, there’s some really horrible things that are worse out there—so stop complaining”—I’m more just like, for me that is a more interesting conversation—because I do think that Samura’s Brute Love is much more morally complex to discuss and engage as a piece of art, than something like Nemesis or Kick-Ass, which I view as more sort of standard issue pop culture stuff. And I will probably find a way to write about that soon once I figure out what I think about all of that. Plus I just wrote a thing on Samura, so I’m not overly excited to do another one so soon. But maybe I will. I don’t know. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot the last few weeks since reading it. There are craft things that are interesting to me about Brute Love as well.
This was more words than I intended to write on this. Bleaugh. Plus I think I’m mostly alone on all of these thoughts amongst my friends in comics. But I also am uncomfortable with the type of people who might read this and agree with me. Because I mean…what’s your damage?
If you agree with me because you don’t think that talking about rape in pop culture is important, or because you don’t like feminists, or are overly concerned with politically correctness and that it’s going to ruin the world—-that’s really not where I’m at intellectually, and we’re really not sharing the same headspace, so much as a strange bedfellows kind of thing.
13. I hope you disagreed with most of what I wrote. You’re probably a safer human for me to be around for it.