Here's some interesting news for Batman fans: issue #27 of Detective Comics will be a special bumper edition of the comic, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Caped Crusader with a 100+ page long extravaganza featuring stories and art from various creators, including Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, Sean Murphy, Franceso Francavilla and others. Marking the first of what will no doubt be several commemorative tie-ins, issue #27 is due for release in January 2014 and will also be given the variant cover treatment, with contributions from artists such as Jim Lee, Mike Allred, Chris Burnham, Patrick Gleeson and Kelley Jones. Batman's first appearance was in Detective Comics #27, hence the choice of numeration to mark the event.
Understandably, most comics news and reporting outlets are coming at this from 'FRANK MILLER BACK ON BATMAN!' or indeed, back on comics, which is note-worthy, I guess, although the extent of his contribution is yet to be revealed. Looking at how the announcements for story writers and artists and variant cover artists have been grouped separately, however, I think it's safe to assume it'll go beyond a pin-up and he'll be either writing or illustrating a short story.
Miller's involvement is point of interest for people, largely due to the last few comic works he produced; from the apparent Islamaphobic ideology in Holy Terror, and the decline in his abilities as a comic creator overall, evident in the inconsistent art in that book and in the writing of All Star Batman. I understand, and even admire, that people feel compelled to draw a line in supporting artists whose personal opinions and actions they are at moral or ideological odds with, but the whole concept of separating art from the artist or bunching them together is too either or for me. Bad people make good art. Troubled people make good art. People make good art. And people are messy, nuanced, complex, multi-faceted beings.
The relationship between an individual and their race, religion, or sexuality is personal and unique to them, and their response to an inherently biased text may be different to another person's response to the same work. The point at which you choose to either support or withdraw from that interaction is individual, personal and contextual. I'm Muslim and I've never read Holy Terror, nor do I have any interest in doing so- there's no shortage of 'dem Islamic terrorist' texts and frankly, I'm tired and bored by them, regardless of their merit. I am, however, still a big fan of The Dark Knight Returns and consider it one of the most seminal works in comics, and Frank Miller being racist or Islamaphobic (or not) isn't going to change my perception or appreciation of that book. Frank Miller being racist or Islamaphobic (or not) isn't going to stop me from supporting any work he does in the future with my money if I so choose. Perhaps it's too romantic an idea, but I think in the trade between my gaining something from any amazing piece of art Miller may yet produce, and him gaining financial reward for it, I come off the better.
I don't have any blanket applicable answers, and I don't really think there are any. I do wonder though, that if we believe in freedom of expression, should that not extend to everyone, regardless of how wrong or hateful we may think them to be? Isn't censorship of something that is generally agreed to be harmful and wrong still censorship? Thinking on...