So, in the news from the Perpetually Offended class (who transcend all political boundaries), Frank Miller was uninvited from the Thought Bubble Festival in Yorkshire. It was at the insistence of the other guests, because of his graphic novel Holy Terror, which even he admits was not one of his best works. But, because it was written and published within ten years of 9/11-back when a lot of people were afraid that the next “conversation” with the Islamic world would involve explosions and dismembered bodies-it didn’t age well and it didn’t read well when it did finally come out. Fair enough, everybody is allowed to screw up on occasion-and the better you are, the more obvious your screw-ups are.
But, this isn’t about Frank Miller.
Not directly, at least.
Why Frank Miller was canceled (and, he’s probably laughing to the bank, regardless-there’s probably a cancellation fee in his contract with the festival) is the same reason why manga and crowdfunded comics are beating out the “traditional” comic book market. It’s why, despite Warren Ellis having a comic book rockstar lifestyle in the late ’90s and early ’00s and everybody in the industry knowing it-many of the same people that were “angry about the revelations” were the same people that were on his various forums as his groupies. They got jobs because he went to bat for them, were a part of the world he created, and when his steps faltered…the knives came out.
Many of these people know-deep in their hearts-that they aren’t as good as Frank Miller.
And they never will be. They never can be.
If Frank Miller dropped dead tomorrow, Holy Terror will be buried in the text somewhere. He’s going to be remembered for Daredevil:Born Again (the definitive Daredevil story), Batman:The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, 300, and more. Many of his smaller and one-shot works are still well-regarded to this day and that just makes his few mistakes all the more noticeable. If you have Frank Miller show up at your convention, he’s going to fill up any panels he shows up at. Fans are going to come for him. And, for most of these creative people, they know that they won’t even reach a tenth of his popularity.
Let’s take a look at the remaining guest list for Thought Bubble, just to see who’s left. Of all the names here, I recognize only four of them. One I wonder why he’s here (Chuck Palaniuk), mostly because while he’s done comics…he’s not exactly a comic book creator as his primary job. One I would prefer not to be in the same time zone (Magdalene Visaggio), because I have never been impressed with her work. And the last two (Gail Simone, Scott Snyder)? They’re B-list at best, with Scott edging out Gail because he did the “Night of the Owls” story-line for Batman, and I can actually recall that.
They might be able to fill up one or two of the secondary auditoriums, but I wouldn’t go on a Saturday (when ticket prices are probably the highest) to see them. I might glance in to see how their panels are…maybe. And they-and the rest of the guest list-has to know this. Frank Miller would have been the big draw. The rock star.
And, if I had a table there, I’d have been happy for him to be there. Why? Because, the more people that come to the convention are more people that are coming by my table. The more people coming by my table, the more possible and actual sales I’ll make. There are more people seeing what I’ve made, taking my fliers, buying my comics and art, and that means I am showing up on people’s radar. It also means that I’m getting more sales-which means that I can pay for the table, the production costs, the hotel room (if it isn’t a local event), eat somewhere where the question “do you want fries with that” isn’t usually asked, and maybe turn a profit to start on other projects with.
I wouldn’t come just to see Gail Simone. She wouldn’t be the thing that would tip me over into getting a ticket, especially in the post-COVID convention era.
I wouldn’t come just to see Scott Snyder.
I definitely wouldn’t come just to see Magdalene Visaggio.
Frank Miller just might tip the balance for me.
And, all of these “creators” can never forgive him for that.
So, it’s not about Frank Miller. It’s not about Warren Ellis. It’s not about R. Crumb. It’s not about how people are crowdfunding comics. It’s not about how manga is sexist, racists, bigoted, and all of the other naughty words. It’s not about the “GamerGate” boogieman that they drag out when they need a straw-man to burn.
It’s about small people with envy. People that have been promised greatness in one way or another-and they realize that they’ll never quite get it. They’ll forever be not quite good enough. And, if they can’t be great…nobody else should be great.
And, they are some of the first people to tear down others.