Anger over the actions of Indonesian illustrator Ardian Syaf, who created a comic book controversy of epic proportions after local fans found out he had snuck references to his support for the hardline movement to criminalize Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in an issue of Marvel Comic’s new “X-Men Gold” series, continues on despite the artist already declaring “My career is over” on Facebook yesterday.
Once Marvel Comics had been alerted to the hidden messages from Indonesian fans and comic book news outlets, they issued a statement saying that the references would be erased from all future releases of the issue and that Ardian would be facing unspecified “disciplinary actions.” Shortly after Ardian himself declared his comic book career was finished, Marvel issued another statement detailing the actions they were taking against him:
“Marvel has terminated Ardian Syaf’s contract effective immediately. X-Men: Gold #2 and #3 featuring his work have already been sent to the printer and will continue to ship bi-weekly. Issues #4, #5, and #6 will be drawn by R. B. Silva and issues #7, #8, and #9 will be drawn by Ken Lashley. A permanent replacement artist will be assigned to X-Men: Gold in the coming weeks.”
Ardian has consistently defended his inclusion of the references to the 212 anti-Ahok rally, which he had attended in Jakarta on December, as well as Al-Maidah 51, the Quranic verse which Muslim hardliners in Indonesia interpret to mean that Muslims cannot vote for leaders from other religions (an interpretation disputed by many in and outside of Indonesia), calling them numbers of “justice” and “love”.
Many called the references Ardian included in the X-Men Comic anti-Christian and anti-semitic, a charge the artist denied, saying in one conversation he posted to his Facebook page (now deleted) “I don’t hate Jew or Christian, I worked with them in 10 years… a lot of good friends, too.”
However, in an interview about the controversy with local newspaper Jawa Pos published today, Ardian explained why he thought that Marvel could not accept his explanation for including the references.
’But Marvel is owned by Disney. When Jews are offended, there is no mercy,” he was quoted as saying.
After making the anti-Semitic remark, Ardian reiterated to the interviewer that he was not anti-Semitic or anti-Christian because, if he was, he wouldn’t have worked for a foreign publisher.
In the same interview, he dismissed concerns that his actions might hurt other Indonesian artists, saying that as long as they didn’t make mistakes like he did Marvel couldn’t fire them (never mind the doubts all comic book companies are going to have in the future about hiring Indonesian or Muslim artists because of him).
If there was any question left about Ardian’s true beliefs, they were clarified by a picture he posted to Facebook (which he quickly deleted but was screencapped by Reddit user heliumlight) showing him happily meeting with the leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front FPI), Rizieq Shihab, who has been at the forefront of the anti-Ahok protests and is currently being investigated for blasphemy against Christianity.
In the post, Ardian said that the controversy had caused him to want to meet with Rizieq for guidance, and, lo and behold, he received an invitation to meet with Rizieq soon after.
Maybe now that he’s no longer going to be working for Marvel or DC, Ardian can start his own line of FPI comics.
To see another side of Islam in Indonesia, check out: