After a friend of mine read my latest Cliffhanger installment they informed me of the comparison to a character named Pigman—which at first I thought was an insult. These are interesting days for the intersection of comics and the “clash of civilizations” indeed. The real-life adventures of a former al-Qaeda militant has become a popular comic book in Indonesia – the most populous Muslim nation in the world – chronicling his transformation from enemy to ally in the fight against terrorism. DC Comics, the home of Batman, sent the classic superhero to Paris and replaced sidekick Robin with a French Algerian Muslim known as Nightrunner. “The 99,” is a comic book creation out of the Middle East featuring 99 superheroes, each representing a different aspect of Islamic culture. “The 99” has received the blessing of President Obama and is working with other DC comic heroes as well as becoming an animated TV series. So there is a lot of literary and creative propaganda out there representing many of the real life tensions percolating under the surface of superficial reality.
Fawstin is a cartoonist who scored an Eisner Award nomination – the comics industry equivalent of an Oscar nod – for his debut graphic novel, “Table For One.” He’s also a FrontPage contributing artist and the author/illustrator of ProPIGanda: Drawing the Line Against Jihad, a collection of images and essays that serve as a companion piece to “The Infidel.”
When I first looked up Pigman I thought it was a reference to the 1968 novel—and I couldn’t see how that would be applicable to my Cliffhanger character. This same friend for quite a while has been uttering that Cliffhanger should be a graphic novel, but my argument has been that I need the literary structure to tell my story. A picture is not always worth a thousand words if each of your words represents a thousand ideals. So a well written novel or literary story still has a power that I don’t think graphic novels and even movies can fully utilize. When the focus on an image is the premier concern—something usually gets lost in the translation as a compromise. In literature compromise isn’t needed, and readers are free to paint their own pictures in their minds. However, that’s not to say that is the case with Pigman.
In a time such as we live in now where any language against jihadist activity is considered radical and an invitation to personal destruction—I have to admire Bosch Fawstin for having the testicular fortitude to take the approach he has. He’s talented enough to work for any major comic house, but he has taken the independent path and built a character that is opposed to the political structure currently in place. In that respect he and I are in the same situation. He knows that any work he does for the industry will have to come from himself—because nobody is going to hire him due to his strong beliefs now that he’s shown them in the Pigman character.
The crime that Fawstin has committed which orthodox media and politics have deemed so terrifying—is that he clearly has identified the jihadist activity from Muslim religion as a vile evil and he doesn’t stray away from the designation. In a world where everyone seems indecisive on Islamic radicalism—especially in a creative capacity, Fawstin has drawn a clear line in the sand for all his readers to observe. Islam based on his experience with the Koran is evil and he uses his character of Pigman to become the worst nightmare of the jihadists inflicting terror upon humanity. For that reason, I LOVE PIGMAN!
So I can see why my friend drew such a parallel between Pigman and Cliffhanger. Fawstin and I are doing similar things for similar reasons. It is up to creative people like us to see evil where it is hiding and root it out through our mechanisms so it is easy for others to see. That is clearly what Pigman is all about. For a change there is a superhero for those in the current freedom movement doing the kind of work that might not be appreciated for another half century. It might not be readily acceptable in our current mainstream culture, but 50 years from now I have a strong feeling that Fawstin will become a cult classic and will go a long way into shaping the kind of culture that young people will be looking for in the aftermath of our current tribulations.
Traditional comic heroes like Batman, Superman and many of the others have had artists handling them over the last couple of years steering them in a progressive direction. Superman a few years ago gave up his American citizenship to fight for the United Nations, and of course Batman had the little Muslim guy Nightrunner as a viable—more global sidekick in an effort to push the cape crusader into a wider market. The Green Lantern re-launched as a gay hero—attempting to take such radical ideas into the mainstream. So it is certainly worthy for a talented guy like Fawstin to make Pigman as a conservative argument against the progressive tide and to let history determine the victor. In the end, the trend will show that the progressive attempts will fail, because generally people don’t respect those types of approaches. Most people by default are more comfortable with conservative ideals when they can get them, because society in general when stripped away from political motivations is right of center in value. So it is likely that Pigman will have a longer shelf life than someone like The Green Lantern or even Superman if that United Nations crime fighter trend continues away from the traditional, truth, justice, and American way approach. Pigman is not about political correctness—which comics have traditionally stood against. When comics start pandering to the political establishment, they are suddenly, “uncool.” And they won’t last when there is competition like Pigman out there that more appropriately articulates the concerns of modern audiences.
After watching the severed heads, and brutal murders of late from the ISIS insurgents in the Middle East and how weak Obama’s political approach has been in reaction, I know I personally want to see someone punished for the evil inflicted. We aren’t getting that satisfaction in reality, but in our minds, at least we are not broken as a people. Bosch Fawstin is proof that the minds of Americans are not yet destroyed by the insurgent application of terror from continued social stress and political policy directly applied through mainstream culture. Comics live and breathe beyond the mainstream and the more orthodox they become—such as in the latest movie adaptations, the more need there is for characters like Bosch Fawstin’s Pigman. So I consider it a privilege to receive such a comparison. It’s a tough fight out there—and it is good to see another valiant character taking care of a market sector that is desperately in need of a strong opinion. And Bosh Fawstin is not short on opinion—which is the greatest gift a comic book artist can provide to the world.