Comic Books Can Be as Powerful as Their Subjects

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Carmen D. Villani Jr. expresses outrage ["Wrong Topic for a Comic Book," letters, July 25] that anyone would attempt to depict the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in comic-book format. This outrage is misplaced; it appears to be based on the notion that comic books are not a suitable medium for such a serious topic.

This idea that comics are suitable only for mindless superhero action and other children's fare is unfortunate. The reality is that comic books (or graphic novels) are just as legitimate a medium as novels, plays and movies, and they have been used to cover some of the most serious topics in history.

Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" is an autobiographical account of her life growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Art Spiegelman's "Maus" is widely regarded as a masterpiece recounting the horrors of the Holocaust and the life of his father, who survived it. More recently, Spiegelman dealt with his experiences during and after Sept. 11 in another graphic novel, "In the Shadow of No Towers."

Comic books and graphic novels are one of the most unique mediums available to writers and artists, as they alone provide the raw power of the visual with the emotional resonance that can only be expressed in the written word. They can allow people to think about, see and understand a topic in ways they never did before, and this is why we should embrace all attempts to tell the story of Sept. 11, be it in books, movies, plays, songs or even a comic book.



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