When comic book scholars chart the moment the medium shed its one-dimensional sensibilities and veered toward adulthood, they cite Alan Moore and Frank Miller as the duo that made it possible.
A recent dust up between the two shows that making comics more adult was all they had in common. In response to Miller’s recent characterization of the Occupy Wall Street movement as “nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness,” Moore countered that the protesters represented a “completely justified howl of moral outrage” and have behaved “in a very intelligent, nonviolent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it.”
Not content with attacking Miller the citizen, Moore went on to attack his works as well. Surveying Miller’s twenty-plus years of output, Moore stated that these comic efforts showcased, “a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time.”
The comic fan community has been shocked that these two giants are disagreeing, but they shouldn’t be.
From the start, Miller and Moore expressed divergent sensibilities in their work, which foretold their differences on the War On Terror (which the former supports, the latter opposes) and The Occupy Movement (which Miller opposes, Moore supports).
Moore’s sensibilities have always been on the side of revolutionary destruction. In “Watchmen,” he has a character establish a lasting peace by destroying half of New York. In “V For Vendetta,” whose mask the Occupy Movement wears, his terrorist blows up Parliament. All of this violence waged for a progressive purpose is supported by Moore.
Although not supporting the 9-11 attacks, Moore acted as if he didn’t know what all the fuss was about in the US.
“We’ve (Europe) been getting bombed since Guernica,” Moore told an interviewer (forgetting to note the fallacy of this analogy since no one in 1937 sought to understand why the Nazis hated them).
Miller, by turns, has always expressed a dislike of sixties liberalism. In his seminal “Dark Knight Returns,” he portrays the leftist response to the vigilante’s war on crime as supportive of the criminals while attacking the Batman as a “fascist.” This is not so far off the mark today when one witnesses the feverish efforts by the left on behalf of the cop-killer Mumia abu-Jamal. Miller doesn’t let the establishment off the hook – corrupt cops prowl Gotham – but like a true critic, he attacks everyone.
In Moore’s world, only the mass murderers are the heroes. In Miller’s, the good guy is the one who fights the mass murderers. Thus, he takes on the violent fantasizers behind the V masks. Moore supports that, not in spite of their violent wishes, but because of them. Moore sees revolutionary violence as something to praise. Miller sees revolutionary violence as something for his heroes to suit up and stop.
Small wonder, then, the way political events have been viewed through the prism of how Miller and Moore do comics.