Fank Miller’s Holy Terror: If You Hate It, Blame The Terrorists.

I wish Frank Miller’s Holy Terror didn’t have to exist, but it does. With that said, we should all thank our lucky stars that guys like him are willing to tell the story.

Frank Miller’s Holy Terror came out a decade after 9/11. For those who don’t know Frank by his artwork, you might recognize him by the celluloid adaptations: 300 and Sin City. If you’re fan of the grittier, darker portrayals of Batman, you can also thank Miller. In short, he’s an artist with a body of work that can claim to have reached the rarefied air of genius.

What really makes Frank Miller an interesting case study is his epiphanic eye opener to the “existential menace” that is radical Islam. His NPR piece, This Old Cloth, is beautiful and touching and sad:

Then came that sunny September morning when airplanes crashed into towers a very few miles from my home and thousands of my neighbors were ruthlessly incinerated — reduced to ash. Now, I draw and write comic books. One thing my job involves is making up bad guys. Imagining human villainy in all its forms. Now the real thing had shown up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country. Breathing in that awful, chalky crap that filled up the lungs of every New Yorker, then coughing it right out, not knowing what I was coughing up.

For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die. All of a sudden I realize what my parents were talking about all those years.

Patriotism, I now believe, isn’t some sentimental, old conceit. It’s self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation’s survival. Ben Franklin said it: If we don’t all hang together, we all hang separately. Just like you have to fight to protect your friends and family, and you count on them to watch your own back.

So you’ve got to do what you can to help your country survive. That’s if you think your country is worth a damn. Warts and all.

The last pages of Holy Terror turn to Dan Donegal. “A hard man. A tough cop.” Interesting thing about Dan: he sports “a cough that comes out of nowhere, no telling when, making the most body-proud health nut sound like a chain smoker.” Funny thing is, when some of us see “Dan Donegal” on the page our minds read “Frank Miller”…and it’s with that lens customers should look through as they approach the book. Some reviewers haven’t done that, and as a result their analysis has been unfair.

The plot to Holy Terror is pretty cut-and-dry, as it should be. “The Fixer” and his sidekick, Natalie Stack, must weather a storm of suicide bombers and stop a larger terrorist plot from unfolding in Empire City. It’s that simple (mainly because the nuances are almost exclusively in the artwork). Readers who are upset over the mostly black and white (and red) presentation, or the storyline that lacks intricacy, miss the point entirely, which is to highlight the distinction between “us” and “them.” Dangerous? Yes. But Frank Miller should be commended for being one of the very few artists out there with guts to do it. Holy Terror isn’t just a comic — it’s a story about how 9/11 affected an artist who was there in New York — who had friends die in the terrorist attack. That is an aspect of the book Frank had no control over.

The Comics Alliance review by David Brothers asserts that the work is bigoted, the artwork at times incoherent in indecipherable. He complains about a panel of oblivious Transformers-watching American teens juxtaposed against the stoning of a woman in the Middle East.

Dear David,

The artwork is incoherent and sloppy at times (and at times truly touching) because it reflects the confused and complex feelings of the artist. It’s in black and white, but it’s still difficult to follow — just like the subject of 9/11 and Islamic terrorism! Detached, clueless teenagers who say “Kewl” and “Awesome” in Holy Terror are propped up against a stoning because Americans are clueless and detached from the very real stonings and state-sponsored murders that go on today in places like Iran.

For the first time in a comic book, someone had the guts to shed light on the barbaric practices going on, in 2011, in the Middle East. Bravo. (This too sickens David Brothers.)

Holy Terror is at times raw, confusing, and poignant. Sometimes it angers (do you think that might be intentional, David Brothers?). It also makes anyone who reads it wonder why it had to be written in the first place. Fans of Holy Terror know why, and some of us aren’t afraid to talk about it. Critics of the book liken any frank (no pun intended) discussion of Islamic terrorism to an attempt to make it synonymous with Islam as a whole. Again, whose fault is that? Perhaps we should ask Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch film director to whom Frank Miller dedicates the book. Or not…because he’s dead, slain by Islamic radicals.

Perhaps we should ask another comic book writer and movie director, Kevin Smith. Or not…because he’s busy writing horror movies about Christians.

Frank Miller is a brave man who wrote a bold book. Go out and buy it, and then tell a friend.

Robert Rodriguez: From Dumb Till Dawn? Say it Ain’t So!

It looks like director Robert Rodriguez is trying to slowly step backwards from the May 5th Machete trailer he released:

“The movie is very over-the-top satirical, and it’s only because of what’s happened in Arizona that some scenes actually feel at all grounded in reality, which is pretty nuts and says more about Arizona than any fictional movie.”

Here’s the deal: I like Robert Rodriguez. When I was younger and wanted to

Robert: I love hispanics. I love your movies. I loved Salma in From Dusk Till Dawn. So please don't act like an idiot because I disagree with you over complex public policy problems facing the nation.

make movies he was an inspiration to me. I think every aspiring filmmaker should read Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player.

I thank Robert for introducing me to Salma Hayek as a teenager in From Dusk Till Dawn. The first Spy Kids was incredibly fun. And Sin City is a classic. Period.

Robert seems like a really nice guy, but like other Hollywood liberals he needs to realize that when you insinuate that people who disagree with you over complex public policy issues are racist…there’s going to be blowback. I’ve supported Robert Rodriguez in the theaters for years, and introduced countless friends to El Mariachi—yet the guy has the nerve to label me a racist because I think not having control of our borders is detrimental to the country? I’m sorry Robert, but as Hartigan might say, you’ve “made a terrible mistake.”

“It’s time to prove to your friends that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying…and sometimes that means killing a whole lot of people.”

Robert, this isn’t worth killing your career over. Hispanics know you’re a good guy. I know you’re a good guy. But if you want to go down the Sean Penn path I’ll refuse to ever spend a dime on one of your movies ever again. Stick to the Bruce Willis balancing act and you’ll do just fine.

Listen to Bruce Willis, Robert. He's a smart man.

Now get going on Sin City 2, because I’m getting impatient.

Yippie Ki-yay…Steve Doocy. Bruce Willis is Sheer Awesomeness.

It was a toss-up tonight. I was either going to blog on the sheer awesomeness of Bruce Willis inspired by his cameo in a Gorillaz video, or Steve Doocy (he’s got a fever, and the only prescription is more nepotism!) Bruce Willis won, which means Doocy gets a reprieve…for now. It’s probably better that way; I’d rather write about someone who is in good company with patriots like Michael Yon than Fox and Sons who get that big break because their dad’s on the payroll Friends.

Bruce Willis admits he has a conservative streak in his veins. How deep is it? I’m not sure. He does mediocre buddy cop movies with liberal guys who are threats to national security.

But that’s what I like about Bruce Willis-he gets along with everyone (even Hollywood guys who hang out in liberal echo chambers), and he’s willing to take chances. For every misstep there’s a Hartigan or a John McClane or David Dunn.

Bruce Willis takes chances that sometimes blow your mind and sometimes come up short, but he almost always plays the hero. And when he’s “on”, he’s on. He’s noble. He’s tough. He’s no-nonsense, and he gets the job done. Bruce Willis is a rarity today, like Clint Eastwood.

Speaking of which, Eastwood has a connection with Gorillaz as well. And since I have a writing background, coming full circle like this dictates I bring this post to an end.

Yippie ki-yay...Steve Doocy.

In short, love your conservative movie icons. They don’t come around too often. Yet. And we need to do what we can to cultivate more men like him, because if we don’t we’ll one day have a world where Steve Doocy rules. And when that happens we’re all dead.

I’m just kidding. Sort of.