ENG3402, The Graphic Novel: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (Continued…)

Continuing from my previous post on The Dark Knight Returns, I’ve assembled a selection of videos below featuring Frank Miller and others talking about Miller’s work in The Dark Knight Returns.

In this interview introduced by science fiction writer and editor Harlan Ellison for “The Masters of Comic Book Art (1987), Frank Miller discusses The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, and other works.

DC Comics interviews people about their work on and memories of The Dark Knight Returns.

The Frank Miller episode of G4’s Icons discusses The Dark Knight Returns at the 16:00 mark.

Frank Miller was interviewed for Comic Book Confidential (1988). His part of documentary is embedded below.

In this final video, Frank Miller talks about his work and influences.

Minireview: The Reconcilers Graphic Novel Volume 1

The Reconcilers Vol. 1.
The Reconcilers Vol. 1.

While Y and I were sitting for several hours in an airplane–on the ground, I had the pleasure of meeting the writer, actor, and director Erik Jensen. After I mentioned to him that my specific area of training is in Science Fiction, he gave me a graphic novel saying, “here’s some Science Fiction for you.” I was thankful for the gift and thankful for the time on the tarmac to read it!

The graphic novel that he gave me is volume one of The Reconcilers (2010) co-created by R. Emery Bright, Jens Pil Pilegaard, and Jensen. Volume one is written by Jensen and drawn by Shepherd Hendrix. Neal Adams created the cover art.

The narrative takes place in 2165 after the ascendency of religion-like mega-corporations and the gradual establishment of elaborate gladiatorial matches fought by “Reconcilers” to decide disputes between corporate entities. The story  follows Sokor Industries attempting an extra-legal takeover of Hansen Engineering’s claim to the motherlode of exotic, energy-rich “liberty ore.” Hexhammer, Hansen’s miner who discovered the the vein, leads their underdog team against Sokol’s seasoned fighters to keep what they had earned. However, Hexhammer’s past choices threaten his ability to overcome his final confrontation with Sokor’s best Reconciler, “Masakor.”

The megacorporations of Fredrik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants and William Gibson’s Neuromancer, as does Weyland-Yutani of the Alien film series also, inform The Reconcilers.

The Reconcilers has a lot of interesting material for thinking through the convergence of corporate personhood, entertainment, religion, capital, and rule of law. I believe that it would be informative to research and engaging to students.


I’m Not Sure Mark Millar Gets the Whole Internet Thing

After Frank Miller wrote some nasty things about OWS and other things on his blog [something that I wrote on yesterday here], a lot of folks went on the attack. Fellow comic book writer Mark Millar responded on his website:

It’s strange to watch your favourite writer getting strips torn off him for a couple of days.

Politically, I disagree with his analysis, but that’s besides the point. I wasn’t shocked by his comments because they’re no different from a lot of commentators I’ve seen discussing the subject. What shocked me was the vitriol against him, the big bucket of shit poured over the head by even fellow comic-book creators for saying what was on his mind.

Obviously, it’s within their rights to exercise the First Amendment as much as it was within Frank’s to make the original point. But there’s something so distasteful about that cyber-mob mentality that revolts me.

[via Millar’s messageboard here]

Disagreeing with Miller’s analysis is the point. We all take a risk posting things to the Internet–on our blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. When we do put our thoughts on the Internet, they are recorded in a public space where there are others who read and respond to the things that we have written. This isn’t a mob–this is just the way the Internet works. The Net is a medium of discourse where people can exchange ideas and engage the ideas of others. From Millar’s perspective, the responses to Miller’s thoughts might be harsh, but it is exactly the right of others to call someone out when they say something boneheaded.

Of course, this calls me out for holding a certain politics, but this is one of the reasons why I run this blog. It is an expression of myself and my thinking about a variety of subjects including politics. Others have certainly called me out on my views, and I have responded to those criticisms. The Internet is a medium where these kinds of discussions, those I would consider constructive as well as those I would consider discouraging, can take place. It is a fascinating experience engaging others through the Internet.

In Miller’s case, I believe that he knows what he is doing with his hyper-conservative talk. Millar, on the other hand, should recognize that the Internet enables something deeper than a mob–at least people have to write their thoughts down rather than expressing their views with sticks and stones. There may be radical responses like calls for a boycott, but at least these responses develop through conversation.

Occupy Wall Street and Its Ultimate Question, Beginning with Frank Miller

I will admit that I haven’t kept up with Frank Miller. I read his Batman books and Sin City, but that is the extent of my knowledge of the man. I only know him through his work–neo-fascism on the one hand, decadence on the other, and vigilantism on both.

Yesterday, I ran across his blog after hearing something about a new book that he has out called Holy Terror. I have not read it, so I will not pass judgement on it. However, I will say that some folks in the blogosphere are calling it nuts for its depiction of Islam, the US response to radical Islam, and the need of the US people to support a government unleashed.

Back to Miller’s blog: He wrote an ad hominem attack against who he believes the Occupy Wall Street are. He attempts to totalize OWS in the very way that the media has been befuddled to make sense of it all. This is a good thing, because the OWS movement is heterogeneous and inclusive. It resists totalization as much as each member thumbs his or her nose at centers of wealth and power.

Miller jumps the tracks, worrying more about his “enemies of mine”: “al-Qaeda and Islamicism.” The First Amendment “exercise” called OWS is “nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.” He has nothing but contempt for those he considers “babies” and “schmucks.” The implicit message is that Miller, via his blog–a theme he repeats here, is righteous in his condemnation of OWS.

I have spoken privately about the OWSers to friends, but I haven’t written about them here. I think that I should redress that omission on dynamicsubspace.net.

The OWSers, I believe, recognize the limits of Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life. Certeau argues that resistance against power–institutionalized in governments or networks of capital–can take place on the microscale, by individual actions, that additively will make a difference by changing the systems of oppression for the better of everyday people.

Others have said that as certainly we can vote at the polls, we can vote with our dollars. Now that a super minority in the US holds most of the dollars, those with the dollars get to do the voting. This is the wisdom passed down from the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v FEC case.

The OWS crowd are fed up with the way things are: fewer jobs, fewer well-paying jobs, fewer opportunities to put college degrees into practice, fewer chances to be an entrepreneur, and fewer ways to accumulate even a meager level of personal wealth. They are fed up with high rents and gridlocked government. They are angry at the continuing stinginess of big business in terms of hiring and spreading their accumulated wealth. They wonder where has American innovation in government and business gone? Is the iPhone the high water mark, and if so, what does that mean for the future? As certainly as the iPhone was designed in California, it was built a world away. The jobs in the States for the iPhone are at the top or the bottom, but there are very few in the middle. Furthermore, they beg their elected representatives to provide some solution since business seems unwilling to do anything of lasting value for the American people. Unfortunately, Congress is deciding how best to restrict bodily and cultural rights of its citizens–the very people who put them in power to begin with. On a smaller level, on the local level, it is elected mayors and other leaders who want to shut OWS down–no more protesting, no more occupying, no more voice.

The OWS is all of this and more. That’s what’s so amazing, wonderful, and scary about these seeds of unrest around the country. This is very likely the beginning of something far greater and hopefully more influential than the Tea Party. Like the so-called Moral Majority of a previous generation, the Tea Party is orchestrated from the top by some wealthy persons who can use Citizens United v FEC to influence elections. Part of that influence has to do with convincing some folks who don’t have any money to buy into the flawed logic of ultra-conservatism. For example, the idea that the US government should be reduced in terms of spending and in terms of services while history teaches us that America’s rise to greatness was facilitated in part by luck coupled with an explosion of governmental expansions and spending. If we cut our government back to pre-1900 size, we can welcome a period of backwardness and insignificance as certain as our post-revolution standing in the world.

Perhaps a thread running through OWS is the question regarding the future of the US. If our government defaults, not on its loans, but on its citizenry by catering to the ultra-wealthy and big business, then what future will there be, not for the idea of the US, but for what really makes the US work, its people?


Catching Up on Superhero Movies with Thor

I was impressed with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor. I finally had a chance to see it, because Y won a free Redbox code from the McDonald’s Monopoly promotion. I have been so busy lately that I have fallen out of touch with much of recent movie and television going-ons. Thor, however, was a treat tonight, because I made some time to watch it with Y and it was a pretty good story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosvich. I believe that the film is a step in the direction for superhero filmmaking. There is certainly spectacle, but that spectacle is tastefully rendered and presented to the audience through good cinematography (for the most part). Despite the compression of Thor’s path to wisdom, it was done in a way that connected with the audience in a stronger way than, say, Hal Jordan’s (Ryan Reynolds) terrible training montage in the Green Lantern. Also, I liked the tiny bit of explanation of the Einstein-Rosen Bridge or wormhole, but Natalie Portman’s “science” didn’t make the story itself as science fictional as it could have been. What about all of the other Asgardian technology? How does that work? Perhaps the movie was largely meant to be magical. At least they mentioned Arthur C. Clarke, but they should have given him his due with a full quote.

The PhD Movie–Coming to Kent State in November

First, it was superhero comics being turned into movies. Now, it’s webcomics about graduate students making their way to the big screen.

Did you know that the famous PhD Comics has spawned a movie? The PhD Movie is showing at college campuses all over right now, and it will be at Kent State in November! Hooray!

The Graduate Student Senate is sponsoring showings in the Kiva on Wed, Nov 2 at 3:30 (Kiva), Fri, Nov 4 at 5:00 (Cunningham Hall 101), and Tues, Nov 8 at 3:30 (Governance Chambers, 2nd Floor Kent Student Center).

Anyone in Kent interested in going?

DC Reboots Full Line of Comics to No. 1 in 2011

Seth and I were talking about DC’s planned reboot of its comic lines after we saw X-Men: First Class with Y and Joy tonight at the Kent University Plaza Theater.

After I got home, I saw this article by George Gene Gustines on the New York Times that discusses the scope of DC’s plans:

Audacious. That is the best way to describe the recent DC Comics announcement that it was renumbering its entire DC Universe line of comics: by September 52 series will have begun anew, each with an issue No. 1.

Via: Restarting Comics’ Clock Is Issue No. 1

This move by DC is intended to give the comic publisher’s major titles a fresh start for new readers to catch up. Looked at from another angle, it is a stunt to revitalize the lines and grow the circulation.

I haven’t read many comics in recent years. I did read all of the Sin City comics before the film came out. I also read all of Frank Miller’s Bat Man before the Nolan’s reboot of the film version of that comic line. Personally, I haven’t been interested in keeping up with the latest story lines by the major comic publishing houses. Perhaps this is partially due to a lack of time on my part and not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the comics. However, I don’t think this major decision of issue continuity and character redesign results in long term rewards for the comics. Perhaps this isn’t the ultimate goal of DC. They need to sell comics and a windfall in the short term may sustain the company for a time. On the other hand, this move by DC might grow the number of comic readers. Also, I think they are smart to release digital issues on the same day as print releases.

Good luck to DC on this bold move!

The Oatmeal’s “This is the web right now” Webcomic is Spot-On

If you haven’t kept up with what is going on in the tech world recently, you should read The Oatmeal’s latest set of comics linked below. This compact, graphical guide will get you up-t0-date on Facebook, Apple’s Ping, Tumblr outages, Groupon, Netflix, HTML, and the AT&T vs. Verizon drama. My favorite is the Tumblrbeasts, which have been kindly adopted by tumblr (see here).

This is the web right now – The Oatmeal.