Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 12 August 2013

No More Heroes

Mark Millar

Mark Millar’s made damned sure of that.

I don’t often talk about comics.

I have written for comics, although not a lot, but obviously the husband’s pretty well known for writing comic books, particularly his work on cosmic books for DC and Marvel, including the Legion of Superheroes, and, more recently The Guardians of the Galaxy, which is being made into a movie by the indomitable James Gunn. It’s all terribly exciting.

I don’t talk or write about comics much, not least because if I did it would look as if I was commenting on the husband’s World rather than on my own.

That doesn’t prevent me having opinions, though.

Here’s an opinion: I’d rather read the work the husband does for 2000AD than the stuff he does for America, except that I loved his work on The New Deadwardians for Vertigo. 

Here’s another opinion: I think he’s infinitely more creative and original when he works solo.

These opinions won’t be popular with everyone, but the fact is that SuperHero comics of the sort produced by the Big Two aren’t really aimed at me, and now I’m beginning to understand why.

I’ve never been a fan of Mark Millar.

That opinion was cemented when he launched ‘CLiNT’. 

One of the reasons for that is because of the joke. 

There are two words that, traditionally, have not been used in comic books. They are CLINT and FLICK. The reason for this is that, in comic book lettering CLINT reads as CUNT and FLICK reads as FUCK. Comic books have always been read by kids, so these two words, obviously, would cause a stir and couldn’t possibly be allowed to creep into copy that might be read by children, even accidentally. Parents, especially American parents, would soon be up in arms.

When Mark Millar named his comic book, he decided to use the joke. I get it, obviously, and anyone who knows anything about comics would get it too. The problem is that he went for the wrong word. 

FLICK would make a perfectly good title for a comic book, after all, it’s made of paper and the reader can flick through it. The joke stands. Job done. CLINT on the other hand is the name of a very well known film actor/director. It has nothing to do with anything, except that it makes the rather more shocking word CUNT.

It’s idiocy, and it’s offensive.

FUCK, for those who are easily offended is bad enough, and I, for one, wouldn’t encourage my pre-teen to buy a comic with that title, but, for some of us at least, CUNT is still right on the margins of acceptability. Some of us still don’t want to see or hear it in regular, every day use. Some of us really don’t want to hear our teenaged kids saying it. Some of us still don’t use it regularly ourselves.

Call me old-fashioned, but while FUCK is universal CUNT simply isn’t, and, what’s more, it refers to the female genitalia, and it doesn't have the gender neutrality of the alternative FUCK that Mark Millar might, more reasonably, have chosen.

I thought Mark Millar a misogynist on the strength of the title he gave his comic book, alone, but perhaps that’s just because I’m a raging feminist.

If I hadn’t found the title of his comic book distasteful the sheer volume of violence in all his work would probably have done it for me. Satire! you say. It’s all about satirising the violence in superhero comic books. Yeah, OK, that’s all very well if you believe that the kids reading this shit actually get the satire. I’m betting a decent percentage of them don’t get it. That doesn’t stop them revelling in the blood and filth, though, does it?

Last week, raging feminist or not, I was proven right about Mark Millar. 

Mr Millar was interviewed for The New Republic, and he had this to say, when asked about the place of rape in his work... and there are a good many depictions of rape in his so-called stories.

The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped, you know? I don't really think it matters. It's the same as, like, a decapitation. It's just a horrible act to show that somebody's a bad guy. 

Mr Millar and people like him are contributing to the popular culture of the first World, and it is far reaching. He is contributing to the way that a generation of young men thinks about women, how it treats them and the violent acts it perpetrates on them. For crying out loud... Potentially, he is contributing to how a generation of young women thinks about the way society treats it and the accepted norms of sexual behaviour and what it might expect from its male counterparts.


Is this what you want for your daughters and nieces, Mr Millar?

I don’t really think it matters.
It’s just a horrible act to show that somebody’s a bad guy.

I’m sorry, but Mark Millar is an imbecile. Rape does matter. Rape is not simply another horrible act like any other, and if Mark Millar doesn’t understand that, he should stop writing about rape. In fact, here’s an idea, why doesn’t Mr Millar just stop writing about rape. Period.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that rape should be a taboo subject for writers. I’m a great believer, as a creator, that no subject should be taboo in any art form. The best artists can tackle the most difficult subjects, often with extraordinary results. I also think that the best artists can push the envelope. I was, only yesterday, looking at Francis Bacon’s extraordinary work. Turner was considered a maverick. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by DH Lawrence, written around 1928 was first published in the UK in 1960, and, even then, caused a huge scandal.

Mark Millar isn’t innovating, and shock for its own sake isn’t art. Trivialising any serious subject, whether it is war, rape, rabid poverty, or, for example, the bigoted politics rife in Russia at the moment is simply not acceptable.

Of course, Mark Millar has generated a huge amount of free publicity out of this interview, and, if that was his intention, as obscene as it is, he has surely succeeded. If all publicity is good publicity, I doubt very much whether my opinion, or the opinions of the dozens of others, women included, who have written about his promotion of a modern rape culture will matter to him very much.

Mark Millar is probably rubbing his hands in glee somewhere, when what he should actually be doing is reading some of these column inches, and then doing some serious research on rape and sexual abuse.

There is no way that I would put a man like him in a room with a rape victim, but there must be some way to expose him to some of what being raped means. There must be some way to give, even a man with the sensitivity of a cinder block, some clue as to his utter, mind-numbing wrong-headedness on this subject.

I have never bought a copy of CLINT, and I have not seen KickAss, and I’m not about to begin lining this man’s pockets. His time has come and it has gone, and I hope that the very fact that he has exposed his misogyny will drive a nail or two into the coffin of his career. I suspect that it won’t, because I suspect that we live in a World where compassion fatigue is very real, where our constant exposure to utterly appalling images of degradation has inured us to the constant, unendurable pain and individual suffering that is the daily grind of every victim of rape and sexual abuse.

Mark Millar is thickening the skins of the generation of young men that is buying into his deeply unpleasant way of exploiting them.


  1. I agree. rape is abhorrent and it really irks me (gross understatment) that people try to write it off as no big deal or worse still, something to joke about. I have never ever seen a woman joke about it. I sure don't expect to.

    on the other hand, cunt is often bandied about down these ways but in a completely different way. more often than not it's a compliment, strangely enough, a good cunt is a good guy (because no one ever refers to a woman as a cunt or a good cunt). of course, why they can't just say that I don't know.

    naturally, it's also used as an epithet. I can only assume if he's not a good cunt then he's cunt. which roughly translates as "bastard", another word isn't used very often in it's original capacity.

    as it happens I find there are more offensive (to me) words than cunt. I find 'gash' pretty disgusting. I've seen people say "nice wound", which as you can imagine isn't a compliment.

    but, then when you look at the use of words describing male genitalia you often find the same thing. if you're called a cock, or a dick, or a penis, it's not a compliment.

    but I agree, the way people seem to approach language these days, they seem to have this self-entitled right to redefine words as they see fit. hence "gay" is an epithet. of course if you take offense to this usuage they'll claim "everyone does it".

    well I guess I'll see you at the cliff, lemmings.
    but my dad always used to say to me "if your mate jumps off a cliff too, does that mean you should?" there's something to be said for independent thought and decision making, it's not very popular.

  2. I never understood why people use anatomical terms and their vulgar versions as insults.

    What's next? Am I going to call people spleen or liver? My, you certainly are quite a second molar, aren't you? Yeah... Sounds dumb, doesn't it? Guess what, so sound all other anatomic features used as insult or swear word.


    I personally think rape takes it up a notch. I can only murder someone once, but I can rape someone effectively countless times. Not to forget that rape is also about dominance and control.

    Though, to be perfectly honest, I had no clue who this guy was until I read this. Comes from not really reading comics.

    But the whole making rape somewhat light isn't even his fault. Listen around. The whole "Well, it's really her fault, why did she dress like this" has not disappeared. It's around and as strong as ever. Plus the term "rape" has entered language in a different meaning which is similar to "getting owned". It's especially prevalent among gamers who use it in that meaning when they get their butts kicked in whatever video game they play.

    I would go so far and claim that this sort of desensitization goes hand in hand with the media itself. Watch an old police show or movie. Often times they didn't even show the crime victim, and if they were usually dressed. If we got to see the crime it was usually hilariously unrealistic. Today, however, it's all realism. The crime scenes are blood spattered often bordering total unrealism, the victims tend to be naked (interestingly enough it's usually female victims, you don't really see naked penises in cop shows and movies, even today, but you get to see a lot of naked boobs and clefts) and more often than not we get to see the actual crime which, too, is performed pretty damn realistic.

    And then people wonder why so many people aren't even suffering from "compassion fatigue", but rather just complacent. Indeed I don't think people are fatigued. Fatigue requires compassion to be there in the first place, but most people I deal with as a LEO are usually just complacent. They don't care, and I doubt they've ever cared at all.

    Meanwhile real criminals in reality are also becoming a lot more brutal. The overall inhibition threshold has gone down significantly. 20 years ago a robbery would usually end with the criminal taking off and usually nobody got hurt. Today the victim has to expect violence even if he cooperates.

    I know, it's like beating a dead horse by saying "it's the media", but let's face it: Blood and violence are such a standard in today's media and entertainment that it's no longer disturbing for most when it happens right on their doorstep. No, it's actually quite fun and entertainment for a growing number of people. Then add the almost 24/7 bombardment with information (most of which is worthless anyway and is made up primarily of repeating the same thing.)

    It's no wonder that mankind as a whole is becoming more and more desensitized.

  3. Oh man Nic where were you when i said Authors and Directors have got to stop pushing the boundries of violence and having kiddy killers and kids getting killed in their films and books....
    Couldve done with your help there.
    I dont need to see or hear about any rape makes me angry and if its out of place or context it makes me think, what the hell were THEY thinking about when writing it!
    Alien thoughts to me to be honest.
    Anways Flick and Clint i had no idea at all ...are you talking from an inside the industry point....or am i way out of touch??!! Probably the latter...i unfortunately am very general


  4. I agree with just about everything you have said, but 'cretin' is a horrible insulting term and perhaps if you looked more into the origin of the word- and who was labelled by it- you might refrain from using it.

    1. I apologise unreservedly, and I've amended that sentence. I certainly intended no offence. I usually check terms, but was particularly irate when I wrote this piece, as I'm sure you can appreciate.

    2. Absolutely- keep fighting the good fight :)

  5. 'Clint' was cancelled today.


    1. Thanks Ed,

      For those of you who aren't going to follow that link... The day I wrote this blog, CLiNT was folded, and went out of business.

      I'm not going to say I'm sorry about that, because I prefer not to deal in double standards. I will say that I'm ever so slightly spooked by it.