year I had dinner with Frank Miller. It was an interesting experience, and will one day make for a good page or two in my memoirs. Frank was funny, and nice, and vocal about being more hawkish than Donald Rumsfeld. He also threatened to fight me when I said I saw the influence of Full House on Sin City, but I think he was kidding. At any rate, I am sure I could take him.

Miller’s political views will eventually make a huge splash whenever he finishes his Holy Terror, Batman!, where Batman fights Osama bin Laden*, but for those of us who don’t want to wait to see just where this guy stands, he’ll be reading an essay on NPR’s Morning Edition on 9/11, explaining how the attacks on the US changed his political views on patriotism.

Says Miller: “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 showed up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country.” Miller adds, “Patriotism, I now believe, isn’t some sentimental, old, conceit. It’s self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation’s survival.”

Not wildly surprising from the guy who fetishizes a fascist society in 300, but still interesting, especially in the generally leftist-leaning world of comic books and movies. I wonder whether Miller and Robert Rodriguez have political arguments. Actually, I wonder if Rodriguez reads the newspaper.

For those unable (or unwilling) to catch Miller’s essay on NPR, the recording and a text copy will be available at this Monday.

Personally, I think it’s great that Miller is being politically outspoken, and I wish his Batman graphic novel would get finished already. I watched The US vs John Lennon last night and it made me realize that our artists are not speaking out about the world around them anymore, that hardly anyone is using their art to directly engage the issues of terrorism and the war in Iraq – hell, when Green Day is one of the few groups doing so you know that you’re in trouble. While I don’t agree with Miller’s views – and the things that he said at dinner, while funny, were slightly troubling to me – I agree fully in his right to say them.

* While I applaud Miller for using his art to approach politics, I do have to laugh at Grant Morrison’s take on this comic: “Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it’s likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I’d be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb ‘vs’ Al Qaeda.” (from Newsarama)