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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s . . . Osama?”

    Shurid Sencolumnist
    Shurid Sen
    columnist

    Comic books should depict superheroes who look like they’ve ingested copious amounts of steroids wearing their underwear on the outside of their tights, not depictions of tragedies and world-altering events.

    That’s not too much to ask, is it?

    Apparently it is. Amid all the rest of the profiteering that has occurred over the events of Sept. 11, 2001, this might be the worst. Last Tuesday, Sid Jacobson, the creator of “”Richie Rich,”” and Ernie ColÇün, the creator of “”Casper”” and “”Wonder Woman,”” came out with a new comic book titled, “”The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.”” You bet your friendly ghost it’s graphic, right down to the blood-splattered pages that render the hijacking of an airplane.

    The comic is a 128-page reduction of the 568-page government-commissioned report on the events of Sept. 11. The two came up with the idea when ColÇün, attempting to read the real “”9/11 Commission Report”” – a national bestseller in 2004 – apparently realized he was too illiterate. “”For a government report, it was well-written,”” ColÇün said in an article published in USA Today, “”but still hard to follow – lots of Arabic names, and a lot of things going on at the same time in different places.””

    The “”graphic novel,”” as they would have you call it (isn’t that kind of like calling a garbage man a “”sanitary engineer””?), even comes with the standard onomatopoeia of any other comic book. “”WHOOOM”” reads the comic, as an airliner strikes the second tower. “”BLAMM!”” when a plane strikes the Pentagon, “”R-RRUMBLE…”” when the tower is about to collapse.

    There’s a guy holding a scimitar in 1980s Afghanistan. Yeah, that same “”Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”” Crusades-era scimitar that you’re thinking of.

    This stuff is so ridiculous I could not make it up.

    When discussing the victims of 9/11 jumping out of the World Trade Center, ColÇün said, “”It would have personally offended me to draw that. I just couldn’t. … We knew this was not just politically charged but emotionally charged. We didn’t want to do anything that would offend anyone who lost someone.””

    How thoughtful.

    This is just one more example of the enfranchisement of the 9/11 tragedy for personal monetary gain. Earlier this summer, Ann Coulter did her own version of 9/11 money-making, calling some of the wives of dead husbands millionaire “”broads”” who “”enjoy(ed) their husbands’ deaths so much.”” The media buzz surrounding her psychotic comments translated into higher book sales and revenue.

    Then, not one, but two movies were released this summer about Sept. 11: “”United 93″” and “”World Trade Center.”” At least the former obtained permission from the families of those killed in the flight to release the movie, while also donating a (small – 10 percent) portion of the proceeds of the opening weekend to the Sept. 11 memorial fund.

    While it is true that the comic was eventually approved by commission members Thomas Kean, R-N.J., and Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., there is no plan thus far to donate any proceeds of the book, so every cent can go “”CLANK!”” right into Richie Rich’s bank account.

    Strict profiteering isn’t the only problem here. The general perception of a comic book is one of heroes and villains. This kind of simple, dichotomous representation of the events of Sept. 11 cannot but cut corners and information in an attempt to reach an audience unwilling to go through the rigor of learning what happened through the commission’s report.

    Of greater concern, however, is how blurred the line between fiction and reality is in what can only be called a parody of 9/11 and the events surrounding it. Yes, there is text from the original “”9/11 Commission Report”” in the comic. There also are images of what happened on each of the hijacked airplanes and words that are spoken by “”characters”” in the comic that can be only the figment of the artists’ collective imaginations since no one actually saw what happened.

    Thought bubbles – used by the authors to represent what people are thinking – are not part of journalism or any other type of unbiased report, as the real report claims to be. That fact alone should prevent anyone from taking this as a serious representation of the “”9/11 Commission Report.””

    The disrespect that Jacobson and ColÇün pay by turning 9/11 into just another Marvel comic is disgraceful. If I saw either of these guys on the street, I would hit him square in the mouth and then shout “”POW!!””


    Shurid Sen is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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