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Home > Letters to CR

Tim O'Shea On The Line Between Comics Journalism And Gossip
posted February 29, 2012
 

I was happy to see you recently link to Steve Duin's piece speculating about Frank Miller's health.

I read it last week and read this paragraph repeatedly: "While I have no information about the nature of cartoonist's injury, I've been hearing for quite some time now from folks in the comics' community that Miller is really struggling with health and dependency issues. No one wants to talk about it; just about everyone sounds deeply concerned."

I'm not gonna lie, with some of Miller's public statement in recent years, my immediate thought has been "Jesus, what is he on?" That being said, I have no proof he is on anything. As Duin notes in his piece " I have no information about the nature of cartoonist's injury".

I wonder, is it the job of comics journalists to delve into the personal lives of creators? Should we know or try to speculate upon what dependency issues he may or may not have? On the flip side, if a journalist were to delve into it (or reference un-named sources as Duin did when referencing"folks in the comics' community") how close are we coming to gossip?

I should be clear, in Duin's item, he provides public incidents involving Miller very much of the bewildering kind I referenced earlier. It was not a gossip piece. It was written out of concern for Miller, upon hearing the report of his injury. Your link to the piece was rooted in concern as well albeit with an interesting turn of phrase "all best wishes for the health of Frank Miller, if that's a concern right now."

In the post-game analysis of Whitney Houston's death, you have the "should folks have done more" stories. The comics industry has myriad tales of addiction that end badly (as well as private battles that are private successes of recovery). For every Robert Downey, Jr. coverage stories that end in recovery and resumed success in mainstream entertainment, you have just as many Anna Nicole Smith's.

Should comics journalists be covering the supposed Lindsay Lohan equivalents in the comics journalism, or look the other way when people's private struggles spill into the public partially? I honestly do not know.

But pieces like Duin's give me reason to pause -- not in condemnation, but honest bewilderment -- should there be more pieces like Duin's written--and/or why is he the first time I have publicly noticed acknowledging Miller's alleged dependency issues.