A little over a year ago, the organizers of the Raptus comic art festival in Bergen, Norway asked me to write an essay for a collection they were publishing to benefit victims and the families of the victims of the recent atrocity. Having lived through 9/11 while in New York, I felt I had some understanding of what they were going through. This one-page piece is my exploration of that unfortunate common ground. It’s a little outside the boundaries of what I normally do, but I thought I would share the piece on the one-year anniversary. The full text is pasted below:
It was on every channel: a smoking tower rising out of the New York skyline. Not a single journalist could explain the who-what-when-where-how-why. It was if they all knew instinctively that this was just the beginning, and the ending might be unbearable.
Then the second plane hit.
I tried contacting friends who I feared might be in the inferno. Instead of familiar voices, there was nothing but impersonal busy signals. At that moment Manhattan truly felt like an island in the most profound sense. We were adrift and alone, separated from the rest of the world.
Almost ten years later, I was confronted with another unexpected newscast; another building under siege; another devastating aftershock; another island cut off.
I wanted to believe that we had come farther in the intervening decade – that somehow we had moved beyond such senseless violence – but the news from Norway said otherwise.
Perhaps we have made progress though. In the aftermath of both tragedies, I heard unbelievable stories of self-sacrifice, courage and compassion. Norwegians and New Yorkers alike ran into the flames, dove into the depths and risked their lives for strangers. While these incredible acts of goodwill and bravery will neither erase our pain nor bring back those lost, they do remind us that good can prevail even in the face of great adversity.
On both sides of the Atlantic, heroes like these can give us hope at a time when we least expect it, but need it most.