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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


From the Michael Fleischer interview in COMICS JOURNAL #56 (1980):
"A lot of people think that a story is the place to be a good citizen.  The place to be a good citizen is not in your stories.  The place to be a good citizen is in your life and in your behavior... a story is an arena for the expression of real feelings, and not for the expression of platitudes or the feelings you think people ought to have."

This is actually a pretty good statement as to why I validate a writer like Frank Miller, even though I wasn't entirely happy with the implications of his 300 graphic novel (as noted in my review of the film-adaptation) and can't begin to understand his perverse political take on the Occupy Movement. 

Now, I will note briefly that what we consider "canonical literature" is often if not always informed by some meditation on moral nature.  Such moral concern causes me to label it the literature of "thematic realism," while those forms leaning more toward kinetic concerns I designate in terms of "thematic escapism."  I won't say that the dividing line between the two is hard and fast; it's more like an equator, approximated rather than physically locatable.

Yet I do feel that great literature is never purely defined by morality, as some critics, like John Gardner and Wayne C. Booth, have implied.  Expressiveness in the Cassirerean sense remains at the heart of both forms of literature.

Food for future thought? We'll see, but at present I'm trying more to work around to a response to Curt Purcell's thoughts on crossovers.  So morality will have to wait for later.


"100Aliases" said...

That is a great quote to live by. Fleischer would know, of course, considering all the flack he took over his Spectre and Jonah Hex stories, as well as his novel "Chasing Hairy" (which is just begging to be a Tarantino movie, if 'Natural Born Killers' doesn't count already). I met him at a con once, and he seemed pretty mellow.

As for Frank Miller's rant about the Occupy movement, well, I certainly find it ironic that he'd say that considering the borderline anarchic themes present in a lot of his works that he seems to champion ("anarcho-fascism" is what a friend of mine called it), as well as that so many of the villains in them are corrupt businessmen (Wilson Fisk) and politicans (pretty much all of the villains in Batman: Year One). I wonder if he's going to pull a Peckinpah one of these days and claim that Daredevil and Batman were meant to be the "true villains" of those stories.

Gene Phillips said...

Fleischer and Miller have in common the ability to write scenarios that are extremely visceral-- a talent which a lot of comics-makers play at, but show no real talent for.

I've sometimes thought I ought to see if I could whip up a copy of "Chasing Hairy" through interlibrary loan. Some fan once wondered if the real reason Fleischer sued COMICS JOURNAL was not due to the remarks of Harlan Ellison, but because he Fleischer took offense when a JOURNAL reviewer raked HAIRY over the coals, the same year as Fleischer's interview.

I present the above only as someone's speculation. Certainly not mine I DON'T WANNA BE SUED!!