The other day, I sold all of my ‘Sin City’ trade paperbacks.
I didn’t do it as a grand gesture or anything; I was making one of my occasional trawls through my bookshelves, clearing out the stuff that I didn’t think I’d miss and selling it to Half Price Books. But it struck me as significant that when I looked at a series I’d once greatly enjoyed, all I could think of was how much of a gigantic douchebag Frank Miller was, and how badly his desperate “misogyny and machismo” act made him equally worthy of pity and contempt. (And also that he hadn’t done anything worth reading in years…it’s hard for me to pick up ‘The Dark Knight Returns’, knowing that it inevitably led to ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Back’.) And so I sold them.
Now, this isn’t a grand announcement of how I’m done waiting for Frank Miller’s work to be good again, the way I just did with Marvel and DC. It’s not intended to be a statement of moral superiority: “Why are you still following Frank Miller, don’t you know that you’re giving money to a man who kills puppies and hates freedom and loves ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ and…” (Et cetera.) It’s just that it struck me that everyone has that breaking point, even if it’s different for each person and different things trigger it. Everyone has that point where they can no longer separate the art from the artist, and they just can’t keep following a person’s work because as talented as they are, that person is a thundering asshole. Dave Sim hit that point for me, Orson Scott Card did too, and as mentioned, Frank Miller finally reached that level as well.
(And let me stress, this is different from suddenly realizing that someone’s actually horrifically untalented and that everything you thought you liked from them was really just superficially entertaining in a glossy way that covered up its huge, fundamental flaws. That’s what we call a “Mark Millar” moment.)
But I was interested in finding out what makes it happen for other people. Is it politics? Is it a series of particularly personally offensive works? Is it just ugly personal practices, like finding out that someone ripped off their business partners to get all the proceeds from an AMC TV series? (Not that I really care about it…I wasn’t following Robert Kirkman even before that…but it strikes me as something that might turn some people away from his work as well.) Is it gradual, or sudden? I’d like this to be as open and friendly a discussion as possible, so try to avoid saying things like, “I can’t believe you haven’t given up on (Orson Scott Card, Frank Miller, Dave Sim) yet, don’t you realize how terrible he is?” Or, for that matter, “How dare you slag off on (Orson Scott Card, Frank Miller, Dave Sim), don’t you realize he’s really a wonderful person who’s absolutely right about women being black voids of emotion that swallow men’s divine light of reason?” Let’s try to keep it to what makes that moment happen, and how you handle it when it does.