The co-owner of an Edmonton comic book store believes her shop was targeted by vandals after the store refused to stock a title by an author critical of what he calls “forced diversity” in comics.

Variant Edition in Edmonton’s west end announced in a tweet last week that it would not be stocking the upcoming book “Jawbreakers – Lost Souls” because it does not appeal to its demographic, adding that it “will not actively support creators who have promoted harm to friends, colleagues or strangers.”

The book’s author, Richard C. Meyer, is known for opposing what he calls “forced diversity” in comics.

On Twitter and his YouTube channel, he has linked what he perceives to be the failures of the comic book industry with its attempts to hire and appeal to a more diverse group of people.

Variant Edition was attacked on social media after its announcement, with one user accusing it of being “motivated by spite, not high-minded principle” and another arguing that the shop should not be wading into political debates. Others lauded the shop’s “commitment to fostering an inclusive and engaging comics environment.”

Last Friday, the store was broken into and money was stolen from the register. Store co-owner Danica LeBlanc believes the break-in was linked to the online debate.

“I see it as a statement that ‘We can get to you,’” LeBlanc told CTV Edmonton. “For this to be a random attack at the same time we’re being harassed online, what else could it be?”

Antarctic Press, the book’s publisher, announced Friday that it too would not be releasing the title, saying that it believes that “there should be separation between ‘art’ and the ‘artist’” and that the separation has been blurred.

Meyer’s 112-page book, which raised more than $200,000 through online crowdfunding, is described as chronicling the attempts of a team of ex-superheroes “to save a ‘monster’ from a vicious warlord who wants to exploit it.” According to its Indiegogo page, the book is scheduled to ship August 2018.

Meyer responded to the controversy in a series of YouTube videos in which he characterizes the store’s decision to not stock the title as a “conspiracy,” a “pogrom” and a “witch hunt.”

In a tweet, he said that he would be filing a complaint on Monday with the Federal Trade Commission because he believes he is the victim of anti-competitive practices.

LeBlanc accused Meyer of being motivated by “destruction and aggression.” She said she is glad she took a stand.

“If we had, like most stores, just stayed quiet, nothing would have happened,” LeBlanc said. “However, I feel like this is a very bad precedent. Silence is never the answer.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

With a report from CTV Edmonton