Frank Miller No Longer Attending Thought Bubble After Creator Boycott

by Benjamin Williams
28th July, 2021
2 minutes

Thought Bubble 2021

Earlier this year, Thought Bubble, announced that Frank Miller would be a guest this November's event. A huge name in the comic industry, having written some iconic stories, however, not all have been good with one, in particular, being highly controversial. Thought Bubble announced this morning that he was no longer attending the event.

Things came to a head yesterday when the award-winning cartoonist Zainab Akhtar behind Shortbox, the crowdfunded small press comics collection publisher that has just launched its final Shortbox released some statements on Twitter. Akhtar and Shortbox were attending guests at Thought Bubble this year, but that will no longer be the case. She tweeted from the Shortbox account, saying;

I am sorry to inform you that ShortBox and I will no longer be attending Thought Bubble festival this November. I was invited as a guest in 2020 which rolled over to this year. I have been excited to attend, represent my authors, and share our books with readers after almost 2 years of no conventions. However, 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. 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.

Later in the day, she tweeted the following:

For clarity: I first contacted Thought Bubble about this, privately, 8 weeks ago. After discussions, I was assured action would be taken. This week it's been communicated to me that I am the acceptable loss: repercussions to my career/income over repercussions to theirs.

If you didn't know, the graphic novel that caused so much controversy is Frank Miller's response to the events of 9/11, released 10 years after the event, called Holy Terror. Originally planned as a Batman comic, it was rejected by DC Comics and so was redrawn to feature other, rather similar, characters and published by Legendary Comics in 2011. Probably the best review where you can get a sense of how bad this was is over at Wired.com. The opening paragraph says it all.

"FRANK MILLER DOESN'T do things halfway. One of the true comic-book greats, he's created several of the most extraordinary stories ever to grace the art form. So perhaps it's fitting that now he's produced one of the most appalling, offensive and vindictive comics of all time."

Thought Bubble released a load of public apologies this morning in response, but questions have to be asked as to why Akhtar raised this and had it communicated to her that she was the acceptable loss. Not cool, not cool at all. We're glad it's finally been addressed, but it should have been sorted like this without Akhtar having to go public with it all.

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