A new graphic adaptation of The 9/11 Commission Report— excerpted this month in Slate—has won a spot on the New York Times best-seller list and kudos from the commissioners themselves. The project, which arrives just as comics seem to be finding a new respectability, feels decidedly current, but its creators are unmistakably old-school. The book is the brainchild of Ernie Colón and Sid Jacobson, two industry veterans who met decades ago at Harvey Publications, where they worked on such classics as Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost. Jacobson was in Los Angeles and Colón in Long Island when we spoke last week by phone; I spoke again with Colón this weekend.
Slate: Whose idea was this project?
Sid Jacobson: Oh, Ernie's.
Ernie Colón: I had been trying to read The 9/11 Commission Report and found it tough going. I got confused with the names, places, events, what times planes took off. … I thought, Sid and I are in the business of clarifying things. So, I gave him a call.
Slate: You're in the business of clarifying things? What other projects have you taken on where you've done that?
Colón: Oh, at Harvey we did things for children, like about going to the dentist. Also, I did with my wife a comic book for the Raynham Hall Museum here in Long Island, which was the original house of the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War. They sell the book every single time a busload of kids comes in.
Slate: So, it sounds like, for you, the appeal of the 9/11 project was narrative. Did you also consider the question of audience? I was holding my copy when I went into Starbucks this morning, and the barista said, "Oh, The 9/11 Report, I haven't gotten through that yet," and I said, "This is actually a graphic adaptation." I flipped through it for him and he said, "Huh! Maybe I could get through that one."
Colón: Good, good, that's great.
Jacobson: I don't think we kept in mind children per se. We wanted to do it for all people, for young and old.
Slate:How did the collaboration work?