Sometimes it feels like everybody likes to have a go at Frank Miller. Any new article, essay or interview with the creator that appears online attracts bitter comments about Frank’s stories and abilities, often ascribing personal world views to his work that can be a little tenuous.
It’s certainly gotten worse since the rise of the internet, and some people - who have certainly never seen the kind of commercial and critical success that has been enjoyed by Miller - feel entirely justified in laughing at him.
For every one person who adores All Star Batman, the general buzz around the sadly silent series seems to have 10 people who can’t stand it, to the point where comicblogging king Mike Sterling’s unashamed love for the comic is sometimes assumed to be taking the piss. (And maybe he is, but he still seems to genuinely love the book.)
And the worst part is – none of this is new. Read some old, yellowing Amazing Heroes magazines or David Anthony Kraft’s Comic Interview, and there is plenty of Miller-love to be found, but also the same criticisms of his work – that ridiculous fascination with his plot machinations, a snide sneer at the most superficial aspects of the work that ignores any real depth.
Some people actually seem to enjoy missing the point of Miller’s work, even if they haven’t realised their snark has no currency. One of the most irritating things about the criticism of Miller’s work is the superficiality.
Mention Sin City to a Miller-hater, and they will come up with a long (and occasionally valid) list of things to hate. They’ll bang on about the misogyny, the stale plots, the harder-than-diamonds dialogue and all that jazz, and completely ignore the craft.
It’s a little mindbending to think that Frank started Sin City nearly two decades ago, because a lot of the things he has done in the comic are still being picked apart by draftsmen who are getting rich rewards from the veins he has mined.
Look at the panels, the negative space that spills out over everything, the transitions between scenes, and there are some remarkable things happening in Miller’s comics. The man’s work might look like he’s stuck in a certain style, but there is also a sense of brave experimentation.
That experimentation doesn’t always work, or it may take some time to see what the hell Frank is getting at, but at least he’s forging his own path, going his own way.
But this is ignored in favour of sneering at something like Miller’s typically strong women. It’s just irritating, like the morons who refuse to read Beto Hernandez’s traumatically good Palomar stories because they can’t get past the big tits.
Despite these dismissals, Miller does find an appreciative audience, and there are even some poor souls out there who can find nice things to say about The Spirit movie.
Me, I’m always up for some Miller. His work – both writing and art - is strangely compulsive, slightly frustrating, occasionally devastating and always entertaining. That beats the same old shit anytime, sweetcheeks.