Friday, December 30, 2011

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation

Published 10 years after the terrorist attacks that forever altered the US, The 9/11 Report graphic novel boils down the 800 page official report into a book 85% shorter. This graphic novel treats the events of 9/11 and their aftermath in a measured manner, not sensationalizing the violence nor boiling down the issues simplistically. It represents the key figures involved, both domestic and abroad, traces the history of various US agencies as well as the rise of Al Qaeda, and also depicts the steps and recommendations made to ensure such an attack never happens again.

This graphic novel is the product of Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, two veteran comics creators. Their first collaborations occurred during the 1960s at Harvey Comics where Jacobson was an editor and Colon was an aspiring comics artist. They worked on such characters as Casper the Friendly the Ghost and Richie Rich (whom Jacobson played some role in creating). Jacobson has also worked at Marvel Comics, and Colon has produced notable works at both DC and Marvel. Today the duo work on more serious, realistic graphic novels, such as graphic biographies of Vlad the Impaler and Che Guevara. They speak about their work on this graphic adaptation in this NPR interview.

Reviews for this graphic adaptation range widely. David Abrams called the book "gripping, informative and heartbreaking." On the back cover, no less an authority on comics than Stan Lee gushed, "I cannot recommend it too highly." Hilary Goldstein found the book had flaws but still concluded that either in its original or graphic novel form, this report was "essential reading for all Americans." Offering a negative view, Katherine Dacey found the interplay of images and words ineffective and the end product a "dense, confusing gloss on the Commission’s work that I found harder to read than the actual prose report."

The 9/11 Report graphic novel was published by Hill and Wang. They have various video and audio resources as well as a Teacher's Guide available here. The first chapter is excerpted by Slate Magazine here.

For those interested in the topic, Jacobson and Colon have also produced a sequel to this book, After 9/11.

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