When readers open their Sunday funnies, this Sept. 11, they will see something historic: the creative fruits of an industrywide effort to commemorate the 10th anniversary of an American tragedy.
More than 90 syndicated cartoonists will mark the dark day with comic strips that focus on the themes of honor and remembrance.
King Features has spearheaded the massive effort, which will include such other top syndicates as Creators, Tribune Media Services and Universal Uclick, and the Washington Post Writers Group.
“Shortly after 9/11/01, around Thanksgiving weekend, cartoonists joined together to share a message of peace, sympathy and solidarity. 10 years later, it made sense for the cartoonists to continue this message,” King comics Editor Brendan Burford tells Comic Riffs.
“At a time when the national conversation will be one of remembrance,” he continues, “we thought it was appropriate for the cartoonists to join in and give readers something to reflect with. It’s inspiring to see the enormity of contributions — the messages in the comics themselves are heartwarming and affirming.”
“There is something surreal about remembering 9/11,” Amy Lago, comics editor at The Washington Post Writers Group, tells Comic Riffs. ”It was such a glorious morning for such a reverberating tragedy. To want to honor both those who died going about their daily lives and those who died trying to save others is only natural.”
Lago says she anticipates potential backlash from readers who might not want an event of such gravity interfering with their customary levity.
“I await criticism from readers who believe the comics pages are supposed to be funny 365 days a year,” Lago tells ‘Riffs. “To them I say: ’I understand you want to read the comics to forget your troubles, but this is personal. Out of mutual respect and understanding, please grant all of us who lived through Sept.11, 2001, this one day of putting humor aside in honor and remembrance of those who didn’t.”
Lago also praises King Features for their “superb coordination” of the project. On Sept. 11, all the participating comics will also be viewable at the site www.CartoonistsRemember911.com.
King Features says it is also partnering with several cartoon museums across the country — as well as Washington’s Newseum — to host commemorative exhibits.
“Comics and cartoons have played an important role throughout history by reflecting and reacting to the political climate of our country,” the Newseum’s Susan Bennett, senior vice president of exhibits and program, said in a statement.
“We’re honored to partner with some of the country’s best illustrators as they remember Sept. 11, a day we should never forget.”