WTC Editorial cartoons
September 11, 2001 10:46 PM   Subscribe

WTC Editorial cartoons I don't know if they trivialize or symbolize, but they're often part of the artifacts we use to remember events like this.
posted by owillis (14 comments total)
Thanks owillis. Good post.

I think the one that affected me the most was the one with the father and son watching the action on TVs through a display window. That's what happened today.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:54 PM on September 11, 2001

My nephews in elementary school were sent home with notes to not let the kids watch the same horriffic scenes over and over and over. Not to hide it from them, mind you, they should be told what happened. Something about the little ones (1st graders and such) not fully understanding that the event was over and the TV's just showing tapes from different viewpoints. Too much repetition leads to nightmares, I guess.

I know it worked for me. I should've been in bed 2 hours ago and ain't looking forward to any of my dreams.
posted by Tacodog at 11:02 PM on September 11, 2001

trivialize? no way. cartoonists cartoon not just for others, but for themselves, as a way of coping. this can only add to the healing process. I hesitate to call myself a cartoonist, but I did the very same thing this morning almost without thought.
posted by kevspace at 11:17 PM on September 11, 2001

It's incredible how many of these cartoons are exactly the same concept -- the statue of liberty choking on smoke from the towers. A concise visual representation of how much something like this can unify people.
posted by precipice at 11:27 PM on September 11, 2001

owillis, very good post. I find all of them interesting and was also struck by how similar many of them were. United we Stand.
posted by bjgeiger at 11:37 PM on September 11, 2001

Kevspace - I really liked your comic.

As for the editorial cartoonists, I counted up 17 weeping Lady Liberties, which seemed a little bit... much. (This is just counting the crying ones, not the ones "still standing" or choking on the smoke.)

Most puzzling was "The Sleeping Giant Awakes", whose darkened blanket was labeled "terrorism"... did he wet himself with terrorism? Did terrorism leak through the roof and dampen his bedclothes? I was left really confused.
posted by Zettai at 11:46 PM on September 11, 2001

hey kev, i already said it at fp, but good cartoon. nice post as well, oliver.
posted by lotsofno at 11:47 PM on September 11, 2001

Most chilling (and poignant) was the cartoon with the bomb-holding terrorist looming over the smoking ruins, saying "anywhere...anytime..."
posted by scottandrew at 11:55 PM on September 11, 2001

A concise visual representation of how much something like this can unify people.

Maybe so, precipice, but I saw it as an excellent example of the notion that there are very few new ideas. But for the rare exception, these were all based on one of three themes: "statue of liberty in despair," "sleeping giant awakens," or "Pearl Harbor II/Infamy II." I'm rather surprised nobody threw King Kong out there.

Do they trivialize? I would have trouble believing any of the cartoonists set out to do that, though I think Slate's approach (lumping them all into a collection rather than, say, just linking to each in some newspaper or other) tends to weaken the impact of each individual drawing. When you've seen Lady Liberty with her hand cupped over her eyes 20 times, the 21st can hardly make you think "Wow, now this is original!"

And anyhow, they couldn't possibly trivialize anything the way CNN can with its ridiculous sensationalist headlines. "AMERICA UNDER ATTACK" in bold, block lettering -- nobody, but nobody can take a real disaster and turn it into a pseudo docu-drama like CNN.
posted by Bixby23 at 11:55 PM on September 11, 2001

To be fair, generally political cartoons are not all lumped togehter like this. In their native environment, the newspaper editorial page, they generally stand alone. If a paper (as the Chicago Trib does) collects together a group on a topic, they'll edit out the most similar ones.

Remember NBC's TV movie Special Bulletin? Most of you probably don't, but it has stayed with me a long time. In a nutshell, it's a fake newscast that's "interrupted" by a breaking story about anti-nuke terrorists taking over a military ship in Charleston, SC and threatening to blow it up if the US doesn't unilaterally disarm (I think they were going for confused politics as a deliberate distraction). The leader is played by David Clennon (Miles Dentrell on thirtysomething and reprised on Once and Again last year), and when they get a live phone call with him, he lays into the anchor (um, from St. Elsewhere) for having a musical cue, a cute logo, and a dumb, overdramatic name for the news event all inside of half an hour. Which we'd all just seen. It was a lame thriller in some ways, but a terrific news business satire in others (and pre-cable!). It was made by Ed Zwick (producer of those TV shows), who years later addressed terrorism and anti-Arab racism in The Siege.
posted by dhartung at 12:06 AM on September 12, 2001 [1 favorite]

i agree with kafkaesque -- the image of the father and son watching the bank of tv screens was the one that got to me.

i also find it interesting that despite the many lady liberty images, there is nevertheless a distinction: some are incapacitated by their grief, others stand tall (though some with tears in their eyes) and continue to hold the torch high. it's my bet that the illustrations of the second kind will be the ones to get pulitzers and make it into history books, regardless of how we handle this crisis as an actual people.
posted by damn yankee at 12:35 AM on September 12, 2001

Interestingly, some of the "statue of liberty" cartoons managed to strike home deeply, despite the repitition.

For example, the second cartoon on this page really did it for me.
posted by arielmeadow at 12:38 AM on September 12, 2001

Well, one thing to remember is that these cartoonists are working in isolation from one another, having to express something about the story in a succinct visual form in just a few hours. Especially with breaking stories, you're operating under a lot of constraints. You don't get to check to make sure somebody else didn't beat you to the idea.

Also, regular Cagle readers know he always structures these features to play off the common threads in the concepts. Just look at the Janet Reno cartoons: a page of Elian photo parodies, followed by a page of sharks, then a page of tanks.
posted by jjg at 12:48 AM on September 12, 2001

I couldn't help noticing that nearly all of the cartoons had no words.

The one that hit me was the one from Andy Donato with the erased WTC.

I was going to post this top level, but I think it belongs here.
Thanks, Greg: sometimes the simplest expression is the most effective.
posted by plinth at 4:54 AM on September 12, 2001

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