At an airport in Amsterdam several years ago, writer G. Willow Wilson ran into a problem on her way back to Denver. Ms. Wilson, a white woman and Muslim convert from New Jersey, was grilled by an official at the gate for the plane and had to defend why she had a different surname from her husband. "The situation was funny to me," Ms. Willow says, so she decided to write a comic book about the not-so-friendly skies.She may be downplaying it, but still seems to have a problem with being asked questions at all. Ahem: standard security procedure, ma'am, so don't complain. Everybody can be asked questions at the airport.
In her comic series "Air," Ms. Wilson follows a flight attendant who gets drawn into a magical world of intrigue after encountering a mysterious secret agent. Ms. Wilson's previous comic, "Cairo," was a surrealistic jaunt through her favorite city and part-time home. She fell in love with the Egyptian capital after a trip there during college. "Nothing works, but everything works out," she says about the city.
As a child, Ms. Wilson was attracted to comics for their conflicts. "X-Men" was a particular favorite. "[Comics] formed my ideas about heroism and they were more at my level than the bigger classic literatures," she says.
"Air," published by Vertigo (the adult imprint of DC Comics) and illustrated by M.K. Perker, is part of Ms. Wilson's attempt to make sense of her life as a Muslim after 9/11. She says that in the wake of the terror attacks, "It was weird and strange to be a white convert." She soon found that the very things that made her life difficult also provided great raw material for her comics.
And the part about X-Men being a favorite may be exaggerated too: In this interview on USA Weekend:
I hear your first introduction to comics was the X-Men.But is worshiping the Religion of Peace and Shari'a law the right path?
I must have been 10 or 11 at the time. It wasn’t even a real issue of X-Men. It was one of those public service things that they do, an anti-smoking issue where some kid is on the track team, starts smoking, slows down, and the X-Men set him on the right path. But that’s all it took.
It's just so funny/sad how people like these go so far as to say certain comics are what "inspired" them, yet they take up ideologies that suggest otherwise.
I find the mention of her being a "white" convert rather puzzling too. There are plenty of white Muslims, perhaps more so than black ones, and it seems redundant to bring up the subject of skin color.
If anything, I figure Wilson is one screwed up individual.
A commentor on Comics Should Be Good asked the following question:
G. Willow Wilson is a confused idealistic young woman. As a muslim convert, she fails to understand how that culture endangers her as a woman. Does she endorse forced female circumcision? Does she support Sharia’s lack of human rights for women? What foolishness it is to laud someone like her. Please help her understand her folly.Yes, someone certainly needs to help her out. Maybe that someone could be Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or even Bosch Fawstin!
Update: I found this old post from a blog called FunnyBookBabylon from last year that tells that Wilson had quite a Muslim audience at a conference held at the NYU where she spoke about the earlier book of hers called "Cairo", mentioned above. That too can give a clue just where and how she stands.
Update 2: Newsarama, which is fairly leftist, published an interview with Wilson where the following comes up:
NRAMA: Blythe is a flight attendant, and you've said before that this was partially inspired by an experience with one. Can you elaborate on that for us?No kidding. It sounds more like she disliked being asked questions because she doesn't think the Religion of Peace is any concern, that's what! Even if this doesn't deal directly with Islam, it's still appalling if it's an allegorical form of apologia.
GWW: I was once subjected to this mini-interrogation by a blonde stewardess at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. It laid the groundwork for that scene in Issue 1 where Blythe interrogates Zayn, who is traveling under an alias. Only Blythe is a lot more interesting than that stewardess, who was mostly just rude.
NRAMA: Cotinuing to talk about air travel -- this series is about the airline industry and terrorism: two volatile subjects when mixed in light of September 11th. As a writer doing this, did you have any apprehension or attempts to handle this with kids gloves so to speak?Again, even if it doesn't focus directly on Islam, and remains allegorical/metaphorical, if it's what I suspect it is, courtesy of some of the hints she's given, that's appalling.
GWW: I can't afford gloves. A lot of these issues affect me and my community, directly or indirectly. I wanted to tell a certain story, and if it irked some people, that was okay with me.