Drawing Insights from 9/11

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 11, 2006 in Comic Books |

I have to say that I wasn’t sure what to put up on this website today. Five years ago on this day I was in Manhattan watching the Twin Towers smoke, and then vanish into history. Yet having watched the events of that day there is still a part of me that’s still trying to make sense of it all, and whenever I look downtown in my mind I still see a gap in the skyline of a city that I love.

Over the past year a number of filmmakers have tackled the subject of 9/11, and in my mind there’s something very tacky about that. As a creative person I’m all for an artistic exploration of an event, but something on the scale of a Hollywood epic or TV mini-series seems a bit insincere to me. Yes I’m sure in the minds Oliver Stone or ABC that they had “the best of intentions”, but making a big budget drama at this point in time stikes me as exploiting the tragedy of others.

In stark contrast, as I was researching this subject I came across a website on 9/11 in comic books. What struck me looking at some of the titles is that while you might expect them to be tacky (ala a Hollywood epic) there’s something very personal and honest about them. Marvel put together several short stories on 9/11 called “A Moment of Silence”, and there’s some very good storytelling relating to the event going on inside the book. To me this is more of a tribute to what happened that day.

Take look at this panel, it manages to capture the moment without any words:

A Moment Of Silence, by Marvel Comics

I was even struck by a December 2001 issue of Spiderman which shows a bit of class when dealing with the subject. For starters the cover of the issue is all black which is a pretty stark but creative statement for a comic book. Even more amazing is that inside the book you see fleeing survivors demanding to know from our superhero “Where were you?” and “How could you let this happen?”, and struggling for words Spidy can only reply that he couldn’t even imagine the event taking place.

The December 2001 issue of Spiderman

Looking back at it I think Marvel comics was able to do a class job with these books because their offices are located here in New York City. For the editors of Marvel the event wasn’t some abstract movie-of-the-week that they watched on CNN, but their everyday reality. I think the gap I see from Hollywood, be it Oliver Stone or ABC/Disney is that if you weren’t in New York City that day (or living here in the months that followed) you wouldn’t get the same personal insights into the event.

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