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1 Hawthorne Graphic Novels- Oversized Books

In the Shadow of No Towers

by

In the Shadow of No Towers Cover

ISBN13: 9780375423079
ISBN10: 0375423079
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Please note: The following is a section from the introduction to In the Shadow of No Towers. You may view spreads from book at: http://www.pantheonbooks.com/graphicnovels/towers.html.

The Sky Is Falling!

I tend to be easily unhinged. Minor mishaps-a clogged drain, running late for an appointment-send me into a sky-is-falling tizzy. Its a trait that can leave one ill-equipped for coping with the sky when it actually falls. Before 9/11 my traumas were all more or less self-inflicted, but outrunning the toxic cloud that had moments before been the north tower of the World Trade Center left me reeling on that faultline where World History and Personal History collide-the intersection my parents, Auschwitz survivors, had warned me about when they taught me to always keep my bags packed.

It took a long time to put the burning towers behind me. Personal history aside, zip codes seemed to have something to do with the intensity of response. Long after uptown New Yorkers resumed their daily jogging in Central Park, those of us living in Lower Manhattan found our neighborhood transformed into one of those suburban gated communities as we flashed IDs at the police barriers on 14th Street before being allowed to walk home. Only when I traveled to a university in the Midwest in early October 2001 did I realize that all New Yorkers were out of their minds compared to those for whom the attack was an abstraction. The assault on the Pentagon confirmed that the carnage in New York City was indeed an attack on America, not one more skirmish on foreign soil. Still, the small town I visited in Indiana-draped in flags that reminded me of the garlic one might put on a door to ward off vampires-was at least as worked up over a frat houses zoning violations as with threats from "raghead terrorists." It was as if Id wandered into an inverted version of Saul Steinbergs famous map of America seen from Ninth Avenue, where the known world ends at the Hudson; in Indiana everything east of the Alleghenies was very, very far away.

One of my near-death realizations as the dust first settled on Canal Street was the depth of my affection for the chaotic neighborhood that I can honestly call home. Allegiance to this unmelted nugget in the melting pot is as close as I comfortably get to patriotism. I wasnt able to imagine myself leaving my city for safety in, say, the south of France, then opening my Herald Tribune at some café to read that New York City had been turned into radioactive rubble. The realization that Im actually a "rooted" cosmopolitan is referred to in the fourth of the No Towers comix pages that follow, but the unstated epiphany that underlies all the pages is only implied: I made a vow that morning to return to making comix full-time despite the fact that comix can be so damn labor intensive that one has to assume that one will live forever to make them.

In those first few days after 9/11 I got lost constructing conspiracy theories about my governments complicity in what had happened that would have done a Frenchman proud. (My susceptibility for conspiracy goes back a long ways but had reached its previous peak after the 2000 elections.) Only when I heard paranoid Arab Americans blaming it all on the Jews did I reel myself back in, deciding it wasnt essential to know precisely how much my "leaders" knew about the hijackings in advance-it was sufficient that they immediately instrumentalized the attack for their own agenda. While I was going off the deep end in my studio, my wife, Françoise, was out impersonating Joan of Arc-finding temporary shelter for Tribeca friends whod been rendered homeless, sneaking into the cordoned-off areas to bring water to rescue workers and even, as art editor of The New Yorker, managing to wrest a cover image from me, a black-on-black afterimage of the towers published six days after the attack.

Id spent much of the decade before the millennium trying to avoid making comix, but from some time in 2002 till September 2003 I devoted myself to what became a series of ten large-scale pages about September 11 and its aftermath. It was originally going to be a weekly series, but many of the pages took me at least five weeks to complete, so I missed even my monthly deadlines. (How did the newspaper cartoonists of the early twentieth century manage it? Was there amphetamine in Hearsts water coolers?) Id gotten used to channeling my modest skills into writing essays and drawing covers for The New Yorker. Like some farmer being paid to not grow wheat, I reaped the greater rewards that came from letting my aptitude for combining the two disciplines lie fallow.

A restlessness with The New Yorker that predated 9/11 grew as the magazine settled back down long before I could. I wanted to make comix-after all, disaster is my muse!-but the magazines complacent tone didnt seem conducive to communicating hysterical fear and panic. At the beginning of 2002, while I was still taking notes toward a strip, I got a fortuitous offer to do a series of pages on any topic I liked from my friend Michael Naumann, who had recently become the editor and publisher of Germanys weekly broadsheet newspaper, Die Zeit. It allowed me to retain my rights in other languages and came complete with a promise of no editorial interference-an offer no cartoonist in his right mind could refuse. Even one in his wrong mind.

The giant scale of the color newsprint pages seemed perfect for oversized skyscrapers and outsized events, and the idea of working in single page units corresponded to my existential conviction that I might not live long enough to see them published. I wanted to sort out the fragments of what Id experienced from the media images that threatened to engulf what I actually saw, and the collagelike nature of a newspaper page encouraged my impulse to juxtapose my fragmentary thoughts in different styles.

--Art Spiegelman, NYC, February 16, 2004

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Teacher TJ, September 7, 2011 (view all comments by Teacher TJ)
Those of us who were in NYC, or had family in NYC at the time of the attack on the twin towers tend to feel a bit differently about what happened then and what has happened since, than the population at large. I think this book comes closer to hitting some of our general disbelief at how this tragedy has been used as a flag waving way to undermine some of our Amercian freedoms. At the very least it is gives the reader some thoughts to ponder.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375423079
Author:
Spiegelman, Art
Publisher:
Pantheon Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Comics & Cartoons
Subject:
Form - Comic Strips & Cartoons
Subject:
American
Subject:
Graphic Novels - General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
September 7, 2004
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
FULL-COLOR DRAWINGS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
42
Dimensions:
14.4 x 10.3 x 0.9 in 3 lb

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Related Subjects

» Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Cartoons » Comics
» Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Alternative
» Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » General
» Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Literary
» Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Manga » Historical Fiction
» Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Oversized Books
» History and Social Science » Politics » General

In the Shadow of No Towers Used Board Book
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.50 In Stock
Product details 42 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375423079 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Pulitzer Prize — winning cartoonist Spiegelman's new work is an inventive and vividly graphic work of nonfiction. It's an artful rant focused on the events of 9/11 and afterward by a world-class pessimist ('after all, disaster is my muse'). The artist, who lives in downtown Manhattan, believes the world really ended on Sept. 11, 2001 — it's merely a technicality that some people continue to go about their daily lives. He provides a hair-raising and wry account of his family's frantic efforts to locate one another on September 11 as well as a morbidly funny survey of his trademark sense of existential doom. 'I'm not even sure I'll live long enough,' says a chain-smoking, post-9/11 cartoon-mouse Spiegelman, 'for cigarettes to kill me.' The book is a visceral tirade against the Bush administration ('brigands suffering from war fever') and, when least expected, an erudite meditation on the history of the American newspaper comic strip, born during the fierce circulation wars of the 1890s right near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. This beautifully designed, oversized book (each page is heavy board stock) opens vertically to offer large, colorful pages with Spiegelman's contemporary lamentations along with wonderful reproductions of 19th-century broadsheet comic strips like Richard Outcault's Hogan's Alley and Rudolf Dirk's Katzenjammer Kids. Old comics, Spiegelman (Maus) writes, saved his sanity. 'Unpretentious ephemera from the optimistic dawn of the 20th century... they were just right for an end-of-the world moment.' This is a powerful and quirky work of visual storytelling by a master comics artist. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "These oversized comics, steeped in both satire and a palpable sense of loss, describe not only Spiegelman's experience on the day of the tragedy, but the emotional turbulence that ensued over the next three years....Be warned: These aren't Sunday funnies."
"Review" by , "No Towers is provocative and partisan. But it's also very personal. Spiegelman offers his fears, his horror and his anger for everyone to see."
"Review" by , "From his Holocaust saga [Maus] in which Jewish mice are exterminated by Nazi cats, to the The New Yorker covers guaranteed to offend, to a wild party that ends in murder: Art Spiegelman's cartoons don't fool around."
"Review" by , "Art Spiegelman...to the comics world is a Michelangelo and a Medici both, an influential artist who is also an impresario and an enabler of others....It would be almost impossible to overstate the influence of Maus among other artists."
"Review" by , "[A]n odd, thin but robust hybrid of a book — an intimate memoir of the attacks on the World Trade Center...a rant on their effects on the world at large and within the author, and a monograph on the Sunday newspaper comic strips of the early 20th century, all within 42 oversized pages."
"Synopsis" by , In his first new book of comics since the groundbreaking Maus, Art Spiegelman gives us a deeply personal, politically charged, graphically and emotionally stunning account of the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001.

What Art Spiegelman saw in his lower Manhattan backyard on 9/11 was just the beginning of the horror for him. Panic soon gave way to fury as he watched the shameless co-opting of the tragedy by a government in the service of its own preconceived agenda. For Spiegelman, only one thing made sense — passionate dissent, and done in the best way he knew how: through comics! This amazing book is the result.

In a large, two-page-spread format that echoes the scale of the earliest newspaper comics, Spiegelman relates his experience of the national tragedy in drawings and text that convey — with his singular artistry and his characteristic provocation, outrage, and wit — the unfathomable enormity of the event itself, the obvious and insidious effects it had on his life, and the extraordinary, often hidden changes that have been enacted in the name of post-9/11 national security and that have begun to undermine the very foundation of American democracy. Finally, Spiegelman shares with us a small folio of classic Sunday comics pages from the early years of the medium that resonate eerily today. He explains that "The Katzenjammer Kids, Little Nemo in Slumber-land, Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat, et al., comics born at the beginning of the 20th century, were the only things to give him solace at the beginning of the 21st."

In In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman masterfully weaves autobiography — candid, self-deprecating, funny, and harrowing — with a no-holds-barred political statement and a revelation of the cultural reach of cartooning. Scheduled for publication to coincide with the third anniversary of the tragedy, it is certain to be among the most talked about books of the season. Some may be affronted by it, others galvanized. But no one will be unmoved.

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