How to Deflect Criticism

Vicki Vale butt shot by Jim Lee

In a Howling Curmudgeons post that tries to understand outrage over Frank Miller’s butt shot (as drawn by Jim Lee, it’s beginning to look like the shot heard round the blogosphere) by pretending that such things are common in fine art, Marc Singer posts a hilarious checklist that made me laugh out loud.

Vicki Vale butt shot by Jim Lee

Checklist for deflecting criticism of a comic:

– Claim it’s actually a parody.

– Claim that it’s all a big joke on the mundanes/fanboys/idiots who don’t get the parody.

– Claim the work can’t be judged until it’s finished, even if it’s being released in serial installments. (Extra credit: claim it’s so complex, so far above the heads of its mundane/fanboy/idiot critics, that it can’t be judged for one year after it’s finished.)

– Attribute any flaws that you can’t explain away to the collaborator you don’t like, salvaging the reputation of the one you do (henceforth to be known as the All-Star Batman & Robin Special Dispensation). Assert that the collaborator you do like is somehow above the material, concluding that he therefore must be making a joke at his audience’s and his partner’s expense.

– Compare it favorably to a much worse comic or comic artist that your audience can reliably be counted upon to dislike.

That’s a great parody of the “it’s a joke on you” defenses of All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. (Using the proper title makes for good typing exercise.)


  • Michael Denton

    I wrote a whole post in reply (and support) of your viewpoint on the whole sexism in comics, but just deleted it because I’m not sure all the discussion over this title is warranted (and other people are saying essentially what I would have said).

    But, I will say that I saw the book as broad farce the first two issues and found it mildy entertaining from that perspective, but the third issue convinced me that it’s just bad (and sexist) work.

    I am somewhat baffled over the Vicki Vale buttshot uproar, since, to me, what Miller does/did in Sin City is a 1,000 times more degrading to women, but doesn’t receive hardly any raised eyebrows (because of the genre?).

  • I agree with you, Michael, but Batman is ten times more visible in the American comic market than any other title.

    I’ve tried to express elsewhere that I don’t read certain comics, regardless of their classic status or being well-regarded, because of the way the women are drawn, and I’ve been shouted down and told I’m not justified in calling myself a critic if I’m going to judge books on that criteria. Perhaps others have had the same experience when it comes to Miller’s other works. (For instance, I was put off by 300’s homophobia, but that wasn’t a popular position either.) Or maybe, as you say, it’s less surprising to see sexism and objectification in a tough-guy crime book.

  • Johanna: I don’t mean to veer off-topic, but homophobia in 300? Care to elaborate? I’m not disagreeing, but I don’t see it. Scorn for the handicapped, sure, but not homophobia.

  • Dan Coyle

    The head of the Spartans accuses another group of being “Boy lovers” derisively IIRC, which according to actual history makes no sense, since the Spartans were gayin’ it up ol skool too.

    But Frank Miller is freaked out by that sort of thing.

  • Yeah, that’s it. Harvey Jerkwater has an amusing take on it at the bottom of a post on Miller’s Sin City: That Yellow Bastard.

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