911 Comic Strip : In the Shadow of No Towers

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
In the Shadow of No Towers
By Art Spiegelman
Viking pound;20

It's a full-colour book of comics. It's in an oversize board format. It's only 40 pages long. Its cover is black on black. It's politically controversial, an untouchable subject for the mainstream US media. And it's a whopping pound;20. Anyone in the book trade would be forgiven for describing it as unpublishable. So are VikingPenguin out of their minds for publishing it?

Art Spiegelman, of Maus and New Yorker fame, was an eyewitness to the World Trade Centre disaster. He evacuated his own daughter from her school at the foot of the towers moments before the school was engulfed in the cloud of toxic smoke. The attack left him "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".

In the Shadow of No Towers is Spiegelman's two-year meditation on the trauma in a tragi-comic blend of political cartoon, autobiography and classic comic-book iconography. It's his most important and heartfelt work since the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus (also published by Penguin); as he says in the introduction, "disaster is my muse".

Read this review in fullnbsp;in this week's TES Friday magazine

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