Sept. 11 Anniversary: Funny Pages Turn Serious

Cartoonists Remember 9/11
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The funny pages are getting serious for 9/11.

Nearly every major comic strip in America's newspapers this Sunday will be devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In "Blondie," the Bumpsteds and their neighbors will salute a flag, under the words "Never Forget." In the strip "Archie," the new class president at Riverdale High will unveil the school's own 9/11 memorial.

And Sunday's "Dick Tracy" will include a tribute to fire marshal Ronald Bucca, one of the 343 firefighters and 72 police officers who died at the World Trade Center.

"These public safety professionals saved 25,000 civilian lives that day," the strip says.

SEE PHOTOS:Comic Strips Remember 9/11

America's cartoonists have banded together before, to deal with issues such as breast cancer and the environment. Many of them took part in a 9/11 tribute on the first Thanksgiving after the attacks.

But the scope of this 9/11 commemoration is unprecedented: Ninety-three comic strips are taking part, from "Archie" to "Zits."

"The comics come into people's lives every day, usually around the breakfast table. We are part of the American family. It is good for us to be part of the discussion about 9/11," said Patrick McDonnell, who draws the strip "Mutts."

The cartoonists were given free rein in how to treat the anniversary. Most of the strips are poignant, a few use humor. Some of the cartoons might trigger a reaction unusual for someone reading the funnies: tears.

"Obviously most of the time the comics are about humor, but it is an art form, and like all forms of art, you are allowed to draw on all the human emotions," McDonnell said.

For this Sunday's strip, McDonnell expanded on the cartoon he drew for the first anniversary of 9/11.

"It shows the dog Earl looking at his owner Ozzie and saying 'heal,' that's H-E-A-L," McDonnell said. "I thought 10 years later, that is still appropriate. We are still healing."

Leigh Rubin, who draws the cartoon "Rubes," labored for weeks and even consulted friends to come up with a strip with an appropriate tone, he said. "This was a real challenge," he said.

Rubin decided to draw a giant American flag, but instead of 50 stars, the flag contains 50 firefighter helmets and police hats. The word "HEROES" is in the lower right corner.

"The police and firefighters were the real stars that day," Rubin said.

Mike Peters, who draws "Mother Goose & Grimm," uses humor in the strip's 9/11 tribute. It shows firefighters holding the end of a hose and the dog Grimm -- all of them eying a fire hydrant.

"It's the anniversary of 9/11 … Please, you first," Grimm says.

Planning for the cartoonists' tribute began back in January and included the five major syndicates that provide comic strips to newspapers: King Features, Creators, Tribune Media Services, Universal Press and the Washington Post Writers Group.

All the strips will be posted on line, beginning on 9/11, at cartoonistsremember911.com. They also will be displayed in special exhibits at the Newseum, in Washington, D.C.; the Cartoon Art Museum, in San Francisco; the Toonseum, in Pittsburgh; and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art and the Society of Illustrators in New York City.

And, of course, in the newspaper on 9/11.

"People who open up the Sunday paper will be surprised," said Claudia Smith, the director of advertising and public relations for King Features Syndicate. "When you look at this body of work, it is awesome, absolutely awesome, what they have done."

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