BF: Comics have been as truthless and as gutless as any corner of pop culture about Islam and Jihad since 9/11. The first thing comics at large did after 9/11 was to have benefit books that mourned our loss without ever mentioning who was responsible for it. There was even one comic book writer who chose to come out as a pacifist after the attacks and who vowed to glorify Islam in some form in his future comics. From what little I’ve seen, his attempts to do just that were pathetic.
And now this month, September 2011, is the month that a number of comic books dealing with 9/11 are coming out. There’s a “Truther” comic book coming out called “The Big Lie”; what an appropriate description of the book. Then there’s what appears to be an ode to Islam titled “Habibi,” written and drawn by one who actually said about the book that it’s “more out of shame of being American than any attack on Islamic society.” And this is someone who claims to have read the Koran, which should make him ashamed of being an Islamophile. And then there’s a comic about the killing of Osama bin Laden titled “Code Word: Geronimo,” which I imagine is a pretty straightforward take on the scumbag’s comeuppance, without any mention of his ideology. And finally, there’s Frank Miller’s Holy Terror, originally a Batman vs. al-Qaeda story, which appears to take on the enemy in a more direct way than we’ve seen in comics so far, outside of my own work. I’m curious to see what kind of effect Miller’s book will have, if it will inspire more work that takes on this enemy.
MT: You were invited to appear on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to discuss Batman’s Muslim sidekick in DC Comics. Tell us about your experience in the lion’s den of the left-leaning media.
BF: I knew I’d be taking a chance going on, since they’d have the power make me look like they wanted me to look, but it was truly an offer I couldn’t refuse, due to my inability to get any traction for my book from agents, editors or publishers over the years. Even those who showed interest cited Muslim reprisal as their reason for not taking it on. About my first contact with “The Daily Show,” when I realized that the producer who emailed me was actually who he said he was, I went through two long conversations with two different producers about my work and why I do it. It was my critical essay/cartoon about the “Muslim Batman” that caught their attention, and I think in particular it was the one line that I had at the end of the piece where I wrote, “If you’re as sick and tired of this Islamicrap as I am, then check out my graphic novel.” My “interviewer,” the “Liberal Muslim” Aasif Mandvi, initiated a back-and-forth on my word “Islamicrap,” which was funny, but which they ended up cutting. Since my appearance on the show, I’ve interested an agent in taking it on, which is just one concrete way that justified my being on.
(For a look at Fawstin’s appearance on “The Daily Show,” along with his account of the entire three-hour shoot, go here.)
MT: Tell us about some of your many stand-alone works, like the cover of David Horowitz’s book A Point in Time, or one of my personal favorites, your poster in support of Geert Wilders and free speech. What’s your process from inspiration to finished work, and what would you say the major themes of your work are?
BF: I was honored to have David Horowitz commission me to illustrate an idea that he had for the cover of his new book, with the understanding that the publisher might not end up using it. After a number of attempts to get his idea visualized – three stakes backed by a wall, to have a cold look about it, all in gray, white and black. As he told me, the centerpiece of the book is the description of Dostoevsky’s mock execution by firing squad and the illustration was to cover that. I’m happy to say that his publisher did end up using my illustration for the cover.
On my “I’m Geert Wilders!” piece (I’ve done two other drawings of him since): He’s the only Western politician who is completely honest about the threat we face with Islam, so I wanted to honor that and stand up for him like in that scene in Spartacus.
About my work, in a way I think I really write and draw about things that make my blood boil, whether against evil or in support of those who are fighting evil. These days, my main targets are Islam and Obama and how destructive they are to the world. And because Obama was raised Muslim and is as uncritical about it as can be, sometimes my counter-attack on one of these targets ends up being a counter-attack on both.
Superhero comic books have always been about the battle between good vs. evil, but sometimes, especially these days, comic book villains really can’t compete with the evil running wild in the world at the moment, so for the foreseeable future, I’ll keep going after the real-world villains.
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