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Comics and 9/11

AuthorJohn Cech
Air Date 3/11/2002
Cover of A Moment of Silence

Comics and 9/11 Transcript

It’s six months since September 11th, and as though to mark that tragic anniversary, there is a commemorative energy that has been generated in what may at first seem like a surprising place: comic books. There are a number of comic books that have quickly taken on the subject of the September attacks, among them two books from Marvel Comics, Heroes and A Moment of Silence, and from Alternative Comics, 9-11, Emergency Relief. The benefits from the sales of these books go to organizations that are providing assistance to the survivors and surviving families of these horrific events. Each book contains a selection of tributes, stories, and commentaries from some of the leading comic book writers and artists at work today — Stan Lee and Will Eisner, Harvey Pekar and Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada and many others.

The approach in Marvel Comics’ Heroes is to reflect the attacks on the World Trade Center through powerful single images and statements that capture dramatic moments during the attacks and their aftermath — real moments, like the raising of the flag over the smoking ruins of the towers, and imagined ones — like an unforgettable drawing of the mythic figures of a firefighter and a policeman who have become great spirits presiding over the changed skyline of lower Manhattan.

A Moment of Silence tells the stories of real lives that were directly touched by the attacks, among them: a building inspecter who worked at the Trade Center and died in their destruction; a firefighter from Cleveland who came to New York to help in the rescue; and a fireman who perished in the collapse of the towers.

9-11, Emergency Relief takes a slightly different tack in its attempt to provide reactions to this traumatic experience in very personal often very quirky, idiosyncratic ways. Here are brief stories that not only express our collective, shared emotions of stunned disbelief and shock, but that also explore how we humans, young and old, each manage to process and to cope, however nobly and imperfectly, with such overwhelming events. In these new comics, our real-life heroes have become our new super-heroes. And these books about this trans- formation have given this very public, often maligned and disregarded art form perhaps its finest hour.

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Further Reading 

Paul, J. Gavin. “Ashes in the Gutter: 9/11 and the Serialization of Memory in DC Comics’ Human Target.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography, vol. 17, no. 2, 2007, pp. 208–227.
Smith, Philip, and Michael Goodrum. “‘We Have Experienced a Tragedy Which Words Cannot Properly Describe’: Representations of Trauma in Post‐9/11 Superhero Comics.” Literature Compass, vol. 8, no. 8, 2011, pp. 487–498.
Strömberg, Fredrik. “”Yo, Rag-Head!”: Arab and Muslim Superheroes in American Comic Books after 9/11.” Amerikastudien / American Studies, vol. 56, no. 4, 2011, pp. 573–601.
Worcester, Kent. “New York City, 9/11, and Comics.” Radical History Review, vol. 2011, no. 111, 2011, pp. 139–154.


Posted in Comics