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Later, Killian Duke appears on a panel of cartoonists who discuss how their art expresses their varied responses to 9/11 and the Islamic threat. Needless to say, Killian’s blunt viewpoint is the only one that doesn’t reek of cultural guilt and outright appeasement. One panelist argues with him that “religion isn’t to blame. Those who perverted religion are.” To which Killian responds, “Jihadists have allowed Islam to pervert them, not the other way around.”
Killian’s twin Salaam, angered that his brother’s work is so flagrantly disrespectful (read: truthful) to Islam and Muslims, tries unsuccessfully to dissuade his brother to stop, then decides to teach him a violent lesson in censorship. This only inspires Killian to take matters up a notch in his art.
In The Infidel #2, jihadists strike another terrible blow against a symbolic target of the United States. Instead of wringing his hands and wondering “why they hate us,” as the Western cultural elites tended to do after 9/11, Pigman decides to hit the enemy tit-for-tat, or “an icon for an icon,” as Fawstin puts it. The result is a devastating retaliatory blow.
I have written previously about Frank Miller, creator of The Dark Knight Returns and the graphic-novels-turned-films 300 and Sin City, and one of the most influential and well-known cartoonists alive. His 120-page graphic novel Holy Terror took on the subject of jihad too, but to a disappointing reception from fans and reviewers. I asked Fawstin recently if there were any other cartoonists out there besides him and Miller confronting jihad in their artwork. He replied,
Miller is the only other, but since he has said in interviews about Holy Terror, “I don’t know squat about Islam,” he’s taken himself out of it. So as far as cartoonists working in comic books go, in terms of critically taking on Islam and its jihad directly and explicitly – I truly don’t know of anyone else in comics doing so besides myself. Hard to believe.
In one sense, yes, it is hard to believe that graphic novelists are so unwilling to address the most serious civilizational threat facing the Western world today. And yet it’s perfectly easy to believe as well, since our pop culture response to this clash of civilization versus barbarism has been largely timid: denial, self-censorship, self-flagellation, appeasement. In a FrontPage interview, Fawstin observed that “comics have been as truthless and as gutless as any corner of pop culture about Islam and Jihad since 9/11.”
Until The Infidel. As Killian Duke says,
For me, there is before 9/11 and after 9/11. Seeing fellow Americans jumping to their deaths from the Towers brought out in me… a desire to kill. But I’m not a soldier. I’m an artist.
As Fawstin put it, “This story has allowed me to say all that I’ve wanted to say about this post-9/11 world in the best way I can say it, through comics.”
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