This week I released the first chapter of my graphic novel, The Infidel, as a pdf download (which can be read on computers and most eBook readers). The Infidel is my artistic response to the atrocity of 9/11. It is a story about twin brothers Killian Duke and Salaam Duka, whose Muslim background comes crashing to the forefront of their lives on 9/11. Killian responds by creating a comic book featuring a pigskin-clad superhero named Pigman, who takes on Jihad. Salaam’s response is full submission to Islam. Pigman’s battle against his arch-enemy, SuperJihad, echoes the escalating conflict between the twins.
I am often accused of being a hate-filled Islamophobe, but I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to hate Islam for the hell of it. I woke up one day and witnessed something horrific that had Islam’s name plastered all over it. Having come from a Muslim background, perhaps I felt more motivated than most to find out the truth, and then write and draw a story about it.
The response to The Infidel #1 has been gratifying. There have been two reviews published so far, both positive. One was written by someone who disagrees with the theme of the work; one by someone who is sympathetic with it.
Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool, who still calls the work “bigoted,” nonetheless admitted that his preconceived notions of it were wrong, and praised its artistry. He wrote, in part,
“[T]here are all sorts of narrative tricks at play here that can’t help but impress….Exposing character, physicality and direction in a very impressive fashion, and a comic book fashion at that. This is not a movie pitch, this is very much a comic book using, reusing some of its best tricks and inventing one of its own.”
“Fawstin works out his feelings about Islam and Jihad in a powerful narrative that pits two brothers with deeply opposing views on the faith and religious fanaticism.“It’s bound to upset some people because, like the fictional hero in the story, it doesn’t pull any punches.”
Reader response has been as good as I could have hoped for, both from long-time comic book fans and from those for whom this may have been a first-time comic book purchase.
Nearly ten years after 9/11, The Infidel #1 is the first comic that has taken on jihad in a significant way. I believe today’s pop culture has to show and tell the truth about what we are facing in the post-9/11 world; it has to bring it to the enemy the way the culture of the WWII generation did. My part in this is The Infidel, and I hope it is only the beginning of a larger trend. If you agree, check out The Infidel #1.