Thursday, August 31, 2006

9/11 Report - A Graphic Adaptation: One important funny book

When I initially heard that there would be a comic art adaptation of the events of 9/11 I was instantly skeptical, as I imagined that it was yet another cynical attempt to take money from the gullible by manipulation of emotion and patriotism. Then I read that the adaptation was going to be a summary of the report prepared by the 9/11 Commission so I ordered it right away.

While I'm not up to providing in-depth review let me just say this: This is one important funny book.

The 9/11 Report itself is a difficult read, couched in the usual government terminology. The report is not written at a 9th grade reading level and if you want to teach kids, young adults and easily-distracted adults about the Commission's findings then this book is a must.

For some baffling reason Stan Lee gets a bit of space on the back cover of the book. I guess if it looks like a comic book then they call up Stan. He praises the work and asserts that the adaptation "should be required reading in every home, school, and library." I agree that one if not several copies should be available to students and the public. Hopefully, schools and libraries won't allow the Wingnuts to censor or limit the exposure of it to people by requiring permission slips from a parent or guardian.

As far as I can tell the adaptation is free of editorializing. If one administration appears to have stumbled more than the other in dealing with Al Queda it is not a direct attack on that President or their organization by the report. If you want to get technical about it, every administration since 1920 has mishandled the Middle East. Given clarity of hindsight, it is...what it is.

That may not stop those with an agenda from attacking it as they did the original report. In fact, some attacks on the adaptation have already begun claiming it is variously official propaganda for one administration or conversely, an assault on same. I guess it depends on what side of the political fence you stand.

Sid Jacobson wrote the adaptation, distilling the text to a readable format from the Commission's report with a minimum of fictionalizing. Comic veteran Ernie Colon should be lauded for the amount of work he did illustrating over one hundred pages of the book. He was also professional and mature enough to keep the real-world graphic scenes of violence understated and not crib layouts from his work on Marvel's Damage Control series. There are a few scenes where the bad guys appear "Mwa-ha-ha-Evil" but given the medium it may be unavoidable. There are some familiar comic book sound effects thrown in and some dialogue that was created because there is no way of knowing what was actually said, but remains in the tone of the events. A few other panels show scenes of tragedy and if not for the knowledge that they are based on real events one could dismiss them as typical comic book illustrations and not taken seriously.

Pulitzer material? I don't know. This should definitely receive some sort of recognition but it is different than Maus, which is one of the few mainstream books in similar format that the public is familiar with.

You can find the adaptation from many sources on the net or at your local comic book store. You can also read the original 9-11 Report on line.

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  1. Sleestak,
    Thanks for actually giving this a read and telling us what you think. There's been too much knee jerk reaction over this from people who haven't read it. Based on what you wrote here, I'm looking at giving this book a read too.

  2. Comics seem like an odd medium for a 9/11 report, but from what you are saying, it looks like it works.


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