Comic book artist Frank Miller, whose credits include Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City, was all set to appear at the Thought Bubble Yorkshire Comic Art Festival this November in England; in fact, he was listed first among the luminaries who were set to attend. But now he has been dropped and the great minds behind Thought Bubble have apologized for ever inviting him, because, you see, he has committed an unpardonable sin: fifteen years ago, he wrote something that some people have taken as negative toward the Left’s favored religion, Islam.
Spencer Baculi reported in The Mix Friday that Miller “has been removed from the guest list for the upcoming Though Bubble UK Comic Convention after a number of attendees threatened to boycott the event based on their belief that the creator ‘is responsible for propagation of abhorrent anti-Muslim hate.’”
Miller was dropped after Zainab Akhtar, whom The Mix describes as an “award-winning cartoonist and small press publisher ShortBox founder,” said that she would “no longer be attending Thought Bubble festival this November” because Miller was set to be there. Akhtar explained: “As a proud Muslim woman, I cannot in good conscience attend a festival that deems it appropriate to invite and platform Frank Miller, a person who is responsible for the propagation of abhorrent anti-Muslim hate, particularly via his work.”
Akhtar added: “Anti-Muslim bigotry is repugnant and condemnable yet has become so deeply rooted, so widely accepted in society that it is not even given a cursory consideration, as evidenced once again in this situation. I cannot comprehend how time and time again, festivals and communities within comics espouse values regarding inclusivity, diversity, ‘comics being for everyone’, zero tolerance on hate, but all that lip-service evaporates when they are asked to enact those same values.” She complained that she “first contacted Thought Bubble about this privately, 8 weeks ago,” and that the comics mavens had told her that “action would be taken,” but nothing was done. Akhtar took this personally, claiming that “it’s been communicated to me that I am the acceptable loss: repercussions to my career/income over repercussions to theirs.”
All this sounds so heinous, it is remarkable that, as The Mix notes, “Akhtar does not cite any specific instances of anti-Muslim bigotry from Miller.” However, “it is assumed that she is referring to his creation of Holy Terror, a graphic novel in which an original character known as The Fixer sets out to battle Al-Qaeda.”
Yes, that’s right. The Fixer fights al-Qaeda, and that’s “abhorrent anti-Muslim hate.” When the “War on Terror” was young, we were constantly assured by the political and media elites that al-Qaeda had nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with Islam, and that the war against terrorism was not and must not be construed as a war against Islam or Muslims. Very well. But if that was the case, then why is Zainab Akhtar and others now apparently behaving as if an attack on al-Qaeda constitutes hatred of Muslims?
The Mix points out that “many believed” that Holy Terror “depicted the religion of Islam, rather than the specific terrorist group of Al-Qaeda, as the book’s villain,” but makes no effort to explain why anyone got this idea. And that is suspicious in itself. I myself am frequently accused of being anti-Muslim, but the claim is false, baseless, and defamatory. It is no more anti-Muslim to oppose jihad violence than it was anti-German to oppose Nazism. And while Miller himself seems to have backed away from “Holy Terror,” he seems to have done so because of its “anger,” not because he agrees that it is “anti-Muslim”: “When I look at Holy Terror,” Miller said in 2018, “which I really don’t do all that often, I can really feel the anger ripple out of the pages. There are places where it is bloodthirsty beyond belief. I don’t want to go back and start erasing books I did. I don’t want to wipe out chapters of my own biography. But I’m not capable of that book again.”
This did not, of course, appease the woke mob. Thought Bubble announced Wednesday that Miller had been iced. Thought Bubble’s mea culpa was full-bore and thoroughly abject: “Over the last fourteen years Thought Bubble has grown into an amazing community of comic creators and fans who we love, trust and respect. We have let you down, and in our commitment to maintaining Thought Bubble as a safe space for all, we have fallen short. We exist to share the art form and its worlds with people. If any individual, group or community feels uncomfortable or excluded from our show then we’ve failed. We know that many of you are disappointed in us, and have been expecting a comment on this before now. We are sorry for our silence while we’ve been trying to fix this. Frank Miller will not be attending Thought Bubble.”
A statement from us.
— Thought Bubble Festival (@ThoughtBubbleUK) July 28, 2021
As if all that bowing and scraping weren’t enough, Thought Bubble emphasized that it was “deeply sorry, particularly to those who we should be standing up for the most,” and hoped “that you can give us the opportunity to make this better and we thank you for holding us accountable.
We know there is still more to discuss and we will be replying to those who have been in touch, we hope you can bear with us while we do this. We won’t let you down again.”
That’s right, you won’t, because I will never expect courage, or strength of character, or any genuine conviction from you ever again, not that I did before. Frank Miller himself is not defending Holy Terror, so I’m certainly not going to defend it on his behalf, and I don’t endorse torture or killing of innocent people, as his hero seems to, at least by the evidence of an illustration that ran with the article in The Mix. But that is not what the controversy is about here. It’s over the claim that Holy Terror is “anti-Muslim.” And all we know about it is that it’s against al-Qaeda.
Maybe there is really something anti-Muslim in Holy Terror, and The Mix just didn’t bother to point it out. However, it is also true that it is routine for Islamic supremacist groups in the West to claim that opposition to jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women is opposition to Islam itself. They also routinely conflate criticism of Islam with hatred of Muslims, and numerous people fall for this, although they have no trouble whatsoever seeing the distinction between criticism of Christianity and hatred of Christians.
If Frank Miller had written a comic book about fighting against Christian “right-wing extremists,” and some people accused him of attacking Christianity itself, would this convention have dropped him? Of course not. It would be celebrating him as a hero.