Goodnight, September 11
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September 11th, 2011

Goodnight, September 11

From the Washington Post:

This weekend, more than 90 syndicated cartoonists will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks through the distilled power of the artfully inked image.

When readers open their Sunday “funnies,” they will see cartoon responses that range from honor to critical anger.

The 9/11 comics tribute, spearheaded by King Features, will include creators from such other top syndicates as Creators, Tribune Media Services and Universal Uclick, and the Washington Post Writers Group. On Sept. 11, all the participating comics will also be viewable at the site

“At a time when the national conversation will be one of remembrance,” King Features comics Editor Brendan Burford told Comic Riffs, “we thought it was appropriate for the cartoonists to join in and give readers something to reflect with.”

To pull back the curtain a bit on this tribute, Comic Riffs asked a sampling of participating cartoonists to share their reactions to commemorating 9/11, as well as their memories of that dark day a decade ago. Here are their thoughts:

DARRIN BELL (“Candorville”):

Ten years ago, on the afternoon of 9/11, I drew an editorial cartoon that caused protests, and became a … national story because it depicted turban-wearing terrorists with a flight manual burning in Hell. The evening of 9/11, I turned to my wife and said, “It’s a good thing Gore didn’t win,” because I wanted blood and I knew Bush would give it to me. I’d spent the previous year drawing cartoons about Bush stealing Florida, yet here I was thanking God Bush was in the White House. He had me.

But then … we invaded the wrong country, started calling each other traitors and started torturing prisoners and mocking the United Nations. We didn’t ask the rich to sacrifice at all.

When King Features asked us to participate in the anniversary project, I spent months trying to come up with an uplifting, forward-looking image. But I realized that’s just not honest, because we didn’t respond to this the way the “Greatest Generation” responded to their [much more perilous] crisis. We fumbled this. We forgot who we were. We did not honor either those who we lost on 9/11, or the heroes who responded to it on our behalf. And while everyone else will probably use the anniversary to honor the victims of 9/11, I thought it was equally important that someone takes a moment to say we have to be introspective, admit our failings and learn from our mistakes.

Ten years ago, when I drew that first cartoon, it was necessary to remind ourselves what was right about America, and to point out that whatever our failings, what they did was inexcusable. Ten years later, it’s time to stop saying “It’s too soon” for introspection.

Read what the other cartoonists have to say at the Washington Post.

Discussion (140)¬

  1. ChayaFradle says:

    Glen Winuk was a volunteer firefighter who saved over 500 people and then died. His brother got congress to make 9 11 a remembrance day, and a day of committing acts of kindness in the victims and heroes' memories. Other people who survived, their stories:… "Jay helped found MyGoodDeed, a nonprofit that encourages people to remember the victims with acts of kindness on every Sept. 11 anniversary. His lobbying of Congress resulted in September 11 becoming a National Day of Service and Remembrance"

  2. ChayaFradle says:

    Our innocence and naivete as to being "safe" in America died that day. I will never, ever, mourn the loss of civil liberties if the alternative means my children or I might get blown to bits by people with evil intentions.

  3. ChayaFradle says:

    I remember that cartoon you did, Darrin, and the protests. I think all of America, except those who wanted to justify terrorist activity, were very proud of you. I also remember Jay Leno USING your humor as his own. You replied to my e mail, at the time, that it was a compliment to you.

  4. ChayaFradle says:

    Here is an article mentioning the cartoon by Bell which sparked protests one week after 9 11.

  5. ChayaFradle says:

    I found the link to the actual cartoon mentioned in Darrin's blog. It shows the cartoon. Oddly enough, the author is anti-semetic, and writes in his paper about Jews doing ethnic cleansing to Mexicans.

  6. Andrew Goldberg says:

    Great message on 9/11/2011. If only America could truly honor the fallen by reflecting on what has happened since and our position in the world community. This should be a day of soul searching and thinking about what will really make us safe and strong. I believe that our country and our patriotism has been "hijacked" by the military-industrial powers. Until America turns its attention to caring for Americans we will never be secure.

  7. SteveJ says:

    I predict you'll catch a lot of flak for saying what really needed to be said on this 10th anniversary. The other comics today all had lovely and very predictable messages but yours is the one people need to think about today. Thank you!!

  8. laser plumb bob says:

    Thanks Darrin! … Your message is very close to what I've been thinking … how all the wrong lessons were learned … and how maybe this anniversary is an opportunity to finally see that, and to finally learn from our mistakes . ….. The lesson that may have been forgotten is that many more people died needlessly, on all the days before, and after, 2001 Sep 11, not just Americans, and that all of their needless deaths are just as sad as this one day's worth which America has chosen to honor.

  9. SneezeWhiz says:

    Darrin, excellent cartoon, hits the nail pretty squarely, but you left out how we "honored" first responders by making them sue for health care and how we continue to honor our returning military, wounded or not, by kicking them to the curb after they leave the service.
    Talk is cheap, and we honor and repay sacrifice as cheaply as possible.

  10. Jim says:

    Bush messed up regarding military and civil policies after 9/11. And Obama is continuing his failed policies. What does that tell you?

  11. MisTeryWriter says:

    I see freedom as being a privilege and not a right and agree with Chaya on one point. There is a time and place for everything, and there is a time for lock downs and implementing martial law. I can see a time in America when it will be again safe to fly in airplanes without pat downs or bag checks. However, it would be foolish, in my opinion, to let our defenses down this soon after 9 11. Young people may believe 10 years is a LONG time. We older ones know that 10 years is but a short moment in time, A better estimate of when we can again enjoy our freedoms and claim our rights as citizens is when the threat of violence disappears or loses its impact. Would 50 years be more appropriate than ten? This would be a more logical estimation of when we can again let our guard down. I do understand the frustration of young people, however. They want their freedoms and they want them now without concern for consequences.

  12. Maggie says:

    Thank you for expressing my feelings so well. Freedom is a dangerous way to live; people have forgotten that. My friends who grew up behind the Iron Curtain told me that they always felt "safe" in their cities…but that they preferred the freedoms of the pre-9/11 America to the "safety" of their authoritarian homes.

    We have been all too willing to give up our freedoms for the illusion of safety. And it IS an illusion…far more Americans die because of America's love of firearms than died on 9/11, and we kill each other in even greater numbers on the highways by drinking when we drive.

    The only people who can lose America are Americans themselves — when they give up American ideals and the challenges of those ideals for a life where they don't have to think. It ain't easy living in a republican democracy. Citizens have to act with thought, and cooperate, and be adults; they have to understand that freedom comes at a cost for everyone, not just military people.

    I've told my family that if I ever lose my life because of a terrorist action and they support more loss of our liberties because of that loss, I will come back and haunt them with stars and stripes waving furiously. I am an American citizen and I know that we ALL must be ready to sacrifice to support freedom, even if that means dying in support of the idea of America. Freedom doesn't come from above, people, it comes from everyone of us being willing to make the sacrifices that freedom demands, which includes not always feeling safe.

    Believe me, I wouldn't feel safe if a neighbor packed all the firearms that the law allows — but I support what the Constitution allows because I am more afraid of tyranny than freedom.

    Mourn and honor your dead, America. Recognize those who were heroes (just dying does not make you a hero, btw). But get over your self-pity. Grow up.

  13. Dave Kaye says:

    Chaya, where do you even live? What is it about unwarranted phone tapping, torture, calling people that don't believe in torture "unamerican," our loss of standing in the eyes of the world, the murder of thousands of Iraqis, and having to take your shoes off to board an airplane that makes you feel "safer?" Because frankly, madam, it scares the heck out of me.

  14. BAM says:

    I was dreading reading the comics today, because I knew about the plan for the cartoonists to all have the theme of September 11. I knew there would be a lot of schmaltzy "Always Remember" panels with the regular characters all looking solemnly at the smoking towers.. These types of remembrances just seem to fuel the hate for muslims, and fuel the war profiteers. Darrin, your strip isn't called "Candorville" for nothing, is it? Sarcasm is always allowed… or we're not really free–are we?

  15. Rehcse says:

    Why must there be an agenda on such a solemn day? I hope you took some time to read the other strips that chose to remember those who have died in lieu of trying a sad attempt to make their point. Never miss an opportunity…

  16. ChayaFradle says:

    Hmm. It says 30 comments, but I only count 14. Where are the others?

  17. Jim says:

    Bush, Obama, and nearly all of our elected officials have betrayed us in the wake of 9/11, getting us involved in unnecessary wars and taking away our civil liberties in the name of "security." 10 years is too long to put up with this shit.

  18. pointofyou says:

    Your strip today was the only one that spoke to me. I have avoided coverage today elsewhere (not reading the articles in the newspaper, watching tv or reading/viewing anything online. I hope today's Cantorville opens a few eyes.

  19. JMMajer says:

    Dear Mr . Bell:

    Wonderful strip for 9/11. Instead of a another stock 9/11 strip, a real patriotic strip!

  20. Charles Lawrence says:

    Thank you Mr. Bell. You captured the thoughts and concerns of my wife and myself. There were a few hours on that day when there was open discussion about whether the attacks should be defined as an act of war or as a crime. Then the President declared war. I have been mourning the loss of my country ever since.

  21. ChayaFradle says:

    The terrorists were more like a GANG of thugs than a legal representative of any country. Therefore, no war should have taken place IN a country. I remember thinking it strange to declare war against an IDEA. You can't have a war against EVIL. Evil will always exist. You can't say the country declared war, because the perps didn't represent a country. How would you have handled it? I am thinking economic sanctions against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? What do you think?

  22. Jeff Syrop says:

    Right on, Mr. Bell. Most Amerikans still have it all wrong. I wonder if you read this Chris Hedges piece about how we SHOULD be celebrating 9/11:
    Keep up the good work!

  23. ChayaFradle says:

    Wow, the anti-Semites come out in droves when putting down America. I wonder why. Could it be prejudice, you think?

  24. Jeff Syrop says:

    One thing I didn't like, though, was Susan calling today "9/11 Day". It's dangerous to even play around that way. This day doesn't deserve to have a "day" named after it. Think how many times 3,000 people were killed in Nazi bombing raids against England in World War 2, yet they don't name each site where people died "ground zero" and they don't celebrate a "day" every year for each one.

  25. ChayaFradle says:

    Americans putting down Americans. Reminds me of people of color who speak badly of other people of color or people in any religion who hate their own religion. There is a saying that I CAN talk badly about my family but you are NOT a part of my family, so you can't insult us and get away with it.

  26. Monarda says:

    I want to thank you for saying what you did in today's comic. Too few acknowledge that so many of the freedoms that were once the hallmark of our democracy have disappeared in the wake of 9/11.

  27. Ellamay says:

    Congratulations, Darrin! You sweep away the bs and shine a bright light on the reality of 9/11.

  28. Aimee says:

    Thank you, Mr. Bell, for your comic today. After reading it, I had to look you up and tell you how good it felt to know I'm not the only one mourning in a "different" way today. I was feeling very lonely this morning, and you helped ease that.

  29. Mrs L says:

    Courageous and truthful. Thank you for throwing on a light in the fog of maudlin 'remembrance' and mass self-importance. I will be reading your strip.

  30. Dave Solarz says:

    Mr. Bell, once again I must congratulate you for having the courage to run what needs to be said instead of the safer, what everybody wants to hear. We honor the people who do so in our movies (the one that comes to mind off hand is Michael Keaton's character in "Gung Ho" when he finally comes clean to the town,) yet we vilify them in real life. How many whistle-blowers and others who have rocked the boat or said something contrary to the popular opinion have had their careers ruined? In short, thank you, Mr. Bell.

  31. MisTeryWriter says:

    Then comes tomorrow, when people will no longer remember this holiday which has attached to it the reminder to do an act of kindness.

  32. ChayaFradle says:

    I can't find Macushla's comment here. Where did it go? Anyway, she asked me a question. Here's my answer: I, too, am confused. I was just angry, that's all. I shouldn't have posted in anger. You are, of course, correct.

  33. ChayaFradle says:

    Sept. 11, 1974, 2 weeks after the twin towers were built, the Rebbe from Chabad made a speech. He said that the world out there has many terrible events happening, and said let the twin towers be a light to bring goodness into the world. Here is a part of the Chabad editorial:

    A decade has passed, with shoe bombers, underwear bombers, and mail bombers attempting to thwart us. Our naivete has vanished, but we have yet to discover security and calm. Our elected officials and public servants dedicate timeless efforts to better our safety. But there is an important contribution of the ordinary citizen of the world.

    A world shrouded in darkness calls for a greater intensity of light, brightness that each one of us creates around ourselves.

    We were advised to light EXTRA candles on Shabbot to symbolize that we are, in a small way, brightening the world's darker side.

  34. stewartiii says:

    NewsBusters: Comic Strip Artists Honor Memory of 9/11 Victims, and Then There's 'Candorville'

  35. HollyCarrillo says:

    Mr. Bell,
    Thank you for this submission. Takes a lot of courage to say what needs to be said. I will be following your strip more regularly!

  36. Darrin Bell says:

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

  37. Flig Narson says:

    So on just one day, you couldn't keep it apolitical and honor the occasion, could you? One commenter said you said "what needed to be said." Well a great many other people said it, and said it better than you did, and did not use this solemn anniversary to do so. This strikes me not so much as a statement that "needed to" be made, but rather narcissism in its most tasteless form.

  38. Drew says:

    Mr. Bell, I am an Afghanistan war veteran, and you couldn't have possibly offended me more.

  39. Darrin Bell says:

    You honor solemn occasions your way, I'll honor them my way. And I chose to honor this occasion by asking Americans to think candidly about how we responded to what happened ten years ago. If you don't want to do that, I understand.

  40. Chaya's starting to feel like a troll.

  41. AlexR says:

    I got around to reading Sunday's comics today. I was blown away by yours.

    I saw tons of predictable 9/11 strips. Some just seemed lazy; draw a flag or an all-black panel and don't bother thinking up anything meaningful. I liked Doonesbury's strip though, which made a point and had a punchline. I was surprised how simple and effective Sally Forth's was.

    Yours was my favorite though. I watched the news coverage yesterday and felt my blod boil when I saw George W. Bush speaking at Ground Zero about how faith in God will get us through this. I couldn't list all the things that make that an outrage. I wanted to see one protester. One sign. I'd hoped one family member of someone who'd died in the towers would have pointed at Bush and said, "You may not be responsible for this, but you let in the men who were. You fell asleep on your watch."

    As a culture, we treat victims strangely, expecting them to just sit there quietly crying with a halo of innocence around them. If they speak out, we consider it impolite. And if anyone blames them for anything, we consider it obscene. All Americans were victims on 9/11, yes, but some of us are not innocent. Some of us did inexcusable things in the time afterwards, and some of us did nothing to stop it.

    I am sick of hearing the lie that "We are a stronger nation now, unchanged by what the terrorists did to us." We aren't unchanged. We as a people showed that we would accept any heinous thing in the name of 'protecting' us. We did nothing to stop tax cuts for the rich, torture, subversion of our constitution… We didn't start protesting until Obama threatened us with a public option for health insurance.

    Despite sounding like I hate America, I don't. I think we are ahead of the rest of the world in many areas. But in others, we look at the finish line ahead of us, and just sit down and say "That's close enough." I love my country but I hate seeing the potential it wastes. I hate the fact that I so often feel ashamed of it. I feel towards my country the way the child of an alcoholic feels towards their self-destructive parent. That same mixture of love and disappointment.

    I hate that I can't love my country wholeheartedly.

  42. […] diverged in a wood, and I– I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. "The Road Not Taken" is popular poem published in 1916 written by Robert Frost. This poem has been …e is willing to take.   The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow […]

  43. sugarkat says:

    I avoided all media the days leading up to and the day of 9/11/2011. I knew I couldn't handle watching, hearing, or reading whatever people felt was appropriate to put further on that anniversary, especially since so much of it would be so shallow and inane and the pain was still too deep for me. I wish I hadn't avoided your strip, though, Mr. Bell. I nearly started to cry when I saw the Twin Towers in your art, and I wanted to hug you for writing what you did. Thank you, Mr. Bell. Thank you, thank you.