News / Arts & Entertainment

Comic Strips to Blend Comedy, Tragedy for 9/11 Anniversary

Comic Strips to Blend Comedy, Tragedy for 9/11 Anniversary
Comic Strips to Blend Comedy, Tragedy for 9/11 Anniversary

Most of the time, readers turn to newspaper comics for a laugh.  But this week, 93 comic strips in newspapers worldwide will mark a somber affair - the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The trick here is how to entertain and commemorate in a funny medium without trivializing one of the defining events of modern history.

Brendan Burford is the comics’ editor for King Features Syndicate which carries many of the strips involved. He said that the cartoonists have a unique relationship with their readers, and that makes the comics a special vehicle for remembering the 9/11 anniversary.

“Readers probably sense that the cartoonist is someone who they identify with, and someone who speaks to them and shares a certain common sensibility,” he said. “And the comics are every day, and that kind of reliability creates a wonderful relationship between the reader and the cartoonist.”

Jim Toomey draws the cartoon Shermans Lagoon about a Great White shark’s adventures in the oceans. He has tackled serious subjects before - including plastic pollution in the oceans and cutting the fins off sharks. But to do the 9/11 cartoons, he had to remove his characters from their normal zany, funny world.

“With the other serious topics - shark finning and plastic pollution - it was easy because you really can still make those things funny,” he said. “You know there’s a lot of natural tragedy in those things, but with the human tragedy if you try to make fun of that, you find you’ve gone too far pretty quickly,” he added.

Brian Walker writes the family oriented strip Hi and Lois with artist Chance Brown. Both are second-generation cartoonists - Walker is the son of Mort Walker, the author of the long-running strip Beetle Bailey.  Brown’s father, Dick Brown, drew Hi and Lois with Mort Walker starting back in the 1950s.  Brian Walker says because his work is what he called a “warm, friendly, family strip” dealing with a tragic subject was especially difficult.

“It’s not our job to make anybody sad or depressed or upset,” he said. “You know we’re trying to - if not make people laugh every day, at least to bring a little sunshine into their life,” Walker said.

Walker says that because readers identify so much with his characters, having the family mourn or cry over 9/11 didn’t seem appropriate. Walker and Brown decided on a more positive take after the attacks.

“We went for a kind of more, upbeat, and positive ‘let’s remember the heroes’ and the people that - the first responders who went in there and helped clean it up and have helped protect us ever since,” he said. “So we took a more upbeat approach to it. It seemed appropriate for our strip,” he added.

For Walker - who lives in suburban Connecticut near New York City - doing a cartoon that remembers 9/11 was personally painful. He said there were people in his town that did not come home on September 11, 2001.  He also went to the rubble of the destroyed World Trade Center and says it was something he will never forget.

In addition to appearing in the newspapers, the comic strips will be displayed in four museums across the United States - the Newseum in Washington, the Toonseum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York, and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

Joe Wos is the curator of the Toonseum in Pittsburgh. He says the comic strip artists have a special opportunity to contribute to national healing in a lasting way.

“Think about how cartoons affect our daily lives,” he said. “I bet you on every refrigerator, every university door, your office desk you have some cartoon that is clipped out and sitting there as a reminder of something important to you. Whether it made you laugh or made you smile or made you think, cartoons have that power.”

Andrew Farago is the curator of the Cartoon Art Musuem in San Francisco - the only museum that is not geographically close to the site of one of the attacks. He says that the comics he has seen include emotions of all types from sadness to humor to thoughtfulness.

“We’ve got some tear-jerkers; we’ve got some that are just comedic, probably the same level of comedy and humor that they would have on any given Sunday,” he said. “Cartoonists are in their own way a typical cross-section of humanity,” he added.

Creators Syndicate - which publishes "Andy Capp", "Archie", "B.C.", and "Rugrats" - Universal Press Syndicate, which publishes "Doonesbury", "Garfield", "Non- sequitur" and "Tank McNamara" - and the Washington Post Writers group - publishers of "Home and Away", "Little Dog Lost", "Watch Your Head" and "Barney and Clyde" will also participate in “Cartoonists remember 9/11.” After publication, all the comics will be available on the website, cartoonistsremember911.com.

All those interviewed for this report said the scope of the human tragedy involved made remembering 9/11 in a cartoon especially difficult. Perhaps after 10 years, their art can help people begin to do "what Earl", the dog featured in the strip Mutts says to his owner, Ozzie: “HEAL.”

كيف تعامل رسامو الكاريكاتير مع مأساة هجمات سبتمبر في الذكرى العاشرة رسامو الكاريكاتير اعتادوا استخدام ما يثير الضحك كل يوم أحد ليجعلوننا نضحك، والآن يستخدمون نفس الشيئ لإحياء ذكرى هجمات سبتمبر

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."