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Comic book looks at 11 September

London Independent / Andrew Buncombe | July 18 2006

The 600-page official inquiry into the 9/11 attacks are to be compressed into a comic strip version aimed at younger readers and others who might have be put off by the small print of the densely written report.

Veteran comic book illustrators Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon have used skills more used to normally associated with drawing Superman and Wonder Woman to produce an illustrated version of the deadliest ever attack on the US. The 150 page comic book includes captions such as "Whooom!" and "R-rrumble.".

Despite concerns that some might consider a comic strip not suitable way of presenting such a serious topic, the forthcoming publication has received the backing of the official commission's chairman, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean.

"When I first heard about it, I was very concerned but when I looked at it, it was absolutely accurate," he told the Washington Post. He said that he and his vice-chairman, Lee Hamilton, wrote a foreword for the comic book, which also measures how far the commission's recommendations have so far been included.

Mr Kean said that although the original report had remained on the top of the best-seller lists for two years he hoped that the new version would encourage even more readers. "I didn't think we'd be a bestseller, and I didn't think we'd be turned into a comic book," he added.

Victims' organisations have also given their cautious backing to the project though they warn that the images and storyline will inevitably cause upset and distress for some. "Our organisation has pushed for the report to be read and for the recommendations to be put in place," said Caitlin Zampella of the survivors' group, Families of September 11 Inc. "We do want people to read it and to be aware of what was said." The report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States was published in the summer of 2004. It essentially confirmed the generally accepted narrative - that 19 hijackers were responsible for the attacks - and made numerous recommendations to try and counter such attacks in the future.
There were, however, critics of the report who said the commissioners had failed to fully address responsibility for the shortcomings or investigate some seemingly incongruous aspects of the 9/11 events, such as the collapse of 7 World Trade Centre, a 47 floor steel-frame building close to the World Trade Centre. Some experts have raised doubts as to the likelihood of this building collapsing as a result of fires started by the fall of the two towers, something that continues to fuel numerous conspiracy theories about 9/11.

The report also failed to properly explain why Mohammed Atta and one of the other hijackers travelled to Portland, Maine, the evening before the attacks and then caught a early morning flight to Boston's Logan airport where they boarded American Airlines Flight 11 which they subsequently seized control of and flew into the north tower.

Mr Colon, who for 25 years drew the "Richie Rich" and "Caspar" comic strips, said he hit upon the idea of producing the 9/11 report as a comic book when he discovered that the contents of the report were in the public domain. "I called Sid about what I had just seen in the paper," he said.

Mr Colon said he believed their comic book version distills many of the overlapping aspects of the official report. And he said he is convinced this form will find new readers. "There are going to be a whole bunch of kids, teenagers and adults that will not read the report," he said. "The educational system at large has resisted them because of the term 'comic book'. I like to think of them as something that has more purpose."

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