When reading through issue #1 of Bosch Fawstin’s long-awaited graphic novel The Infidel I try and take myself back to when I first encountered the artist’s work.
Bosch and I first connected in February of 2009. He got in touch with me to give me a pat on the back for a freelance article I’d written for FrontPage about comic book heroes called “Superhero Conservatism.” He told me about his own anti-Jihad superhero he’d created, a tough character named Pig Man. A few months later I sold another article to FrontPage, an interview with Bosch about his life, art, and philosophy.
Reading through some of my questions for Bosch readers more familiar with the kinds of things I tend to say about Islam these days might be taken aback. Fall of 2008 and Spring of 2009 were the turning point for me as I was making my shift from Left to Right. At the time I was still doing all I could to try and avoid wholly embracing conservatism. I labored under the illusion that I could be some kind of “New Centrist” and not have to stand wholly with “scary people” like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Pamela Geller. I thought I could find some kind of gray middle ground between the supposed “extremes” of the Right and the Left. And of course part of this was my hope that people like Bosch (anti-Jihadist activists) were going too far in their critique of Islam. They weren’t seeing the “diversity” and “nuance” within Islam.
This was, of course, the arrogance that comes from being a leftist. Being a progressive means never bothering to read the Koran or a book about Islam’s history but KNOWING that you know more about it than ex-Muslims like Bosch.
Fast forward two years later and I’m now editing NewsReal Blog and after reading a stack of books on Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, Bosch and I are more on the same page. And he’s emerged as one of the key forces at NRB and the Freedom Center, usually doing several cartoons a month while creating illustrations for our campus campaigns and pamphlets. He also was responsible for bring to life David Horowitz’s vision of a Palestinian Wall of Lies. Collaborating with Bosch on these projects has been one of my great professional joys of the past few years.
In spite of all these extracurricular activities, Bosch has still managed to find the time to release The Infidel as a digital download. (Hopefully someday a publisher will have the courage to print it in the nice edition it deserves.)
The Infidel is a multi-layered work with a comic-book-within-the-comic. The main character, Killian Duke, is basically a foil for Bosch himself, much as Ayn Rand’s protagonists were variations of her. Killian is the controversial creator of the anti-Jihad comic hero Pig Man and the first issue interweaves sequences from Killian’s life (getting into confrontations with a group representing CAIR, and appearing on FOX News) and also action scenes of an unapologetic Pig Man fighting Jihadists. The first issue concludes with the introduction of the graphic novel’s antagonist — Killian’s Muslim twin brother Salaam who responded to 9/11 by going in the opposite direction by aligning with the Islamists. The next issue will likely be a confrontation between the two brothers over Killian’s provocative comic book.
What kind of response do leftists have to this material? The same as I did years ago. Here’s one example from Jason Wilkins at Broken Frontier:
Lacking balance but overflowing with belligerent swagger and clever storytelling tricks, The Infidel was a disappointing read from a past Eisner nominee. Somehow, despite Fawstin’s closeness to the subject matter, I was expecting a story that at least alluded to the many shades of grey permeating any discussion of religion and politics. What I received instead was a disappointing, if not disturbing, opening salvo in a petty game of name-calling.
Of course the reviewer was expecting “many shades of grey.” I’ll bet money right now that he’s never read a single book about Islam and the only verses from the Koran that he’s familiar with are the ones that CAIR has integrated into their talking points.
Gray is what leftists want because it provides them with a new utopia right now. If everything is just endlessly complicated and abstract then it means we can just argue about it forever without ever having to do anything. It removes our responsibility to take action against ideas that threaten our existence.
And that’s ultimately why so many people are going to have such a hard time with both Bosch’s work and the anti-Jihad movement. The Infidel is a challenge to all who think that we can just wallow in post-modernism and relativism. It presents facts about the nature of a threat facing us. And unfortunately for our leftist friends, those facts cannot be separated from the moral response that follows them. Islam-as-it’s-written and Islam-as-it’s-practiced are a threat both to us and most of the Muslims caught up in it who likely care more about their families than Jihad. That’s a much tougher pill to swallow than the “grey permeating any discussion of religion and politics.”