On September 11, 2001, I had actually woken up early (for me, at that time, pre-Phoebe). I had gotten up at 8 am so I could go with Sari to vote in the N.Y. primary election being held that day. (The election was later cancelled and rescheduled.) Then Sari went off on the subway to work at her job near Madison Square Park in Manhattan, where her train unknowingly passed under the World Trade Center right as the first plane hit the North Tower. By the time Sari made it to work, the second tower had also been hit. I called her at work to relay the news, and the South tower fell as we were talking, which cut us off.
Though I was able to reconnect with Sari a short time later, I spent much of the morning freaking out, watching the second tower fall from the roof of my building, and meeting up in Park Slope with my good buddy Dean Haspiel. It was all too stunning, surreal, and horrific to truly understand.
Sari left work shortly after the second tower fell and watched TV, and the smoking craters, from the balcony of her sister-in-law’s house. She finally decided to walk home over the Manhattan Bridge, where I met her later in the afternoon.
I tell the rest of the story in my three-page comic “Song for September 11,” which you can read on ACT-I-VATE. Shortly after 9/11, Alternative Comics publisher Jeff Mason suggested doing a benefit anthology for the Red Cross, and I was invited to contribute. I wrote and drew the piece in November 2001 and it was published in the anthology 9/11: Emergency Relief in January 2002. You can read a little background about the piece on Comic Book Resources. The Library of Congress asked me for the original art for “Song for September 11;” the pages are now in their archives in Washington, D.C.
In 2006, on the 5th anniversary of 9/11, I did another 9/11-related piece, the one-page “Post-Traumatic Skyscraper Anxiety,” which you can also read on ACT-I-VATE. The piece was recently published in print in Cousin Corrinne’s Reminder #3. There’s a video of me reading the piece here.
In many ways the experience of 9/11 led me to volunteering for the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina. Both catastrophes led me to make art. I muse on the connection in the paper, “Filtering Catastrophe Through Comics,” which I wrote for a panel I was on earlier this year.
As I listen to the roll-call of names of those lost on September 11 at the World Trade Center, I devoutly hope to never witness such tragedy again.