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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Ground Zero's comic book heroes
Heroes
The artists all gave their time for free
By entertainment correspondent Tom Brook in New York

Some of America's top comic book artists have contributed their talents to Heroes, a special poster book honouring the real-life heroes of the World Trade Center attacks.

Marvel Comics has put together this 64-page publication containing emotionally stirring portraits of fire-fighters, police officers, emergency medical workers and ordinary New Yorkers struggling in the aftermath of the disaster.


The goal was to have the world's greatest superhero creators honouring the world's greatest heroes

Joe Quesada

Although Captain America and The Incredible Hulk make cameo appearances, the vast majority of images in this poster book depict ordinary rescue workers as superheroes.

Superhero

They have been drawn by some of the top names in the comic book industry - everyone from Marvel's legendary Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, to Todd McFarlane, the man who dreamt up Spawn.

For Joe Quesada, Marvel's editor-in-chief, the actions of rescue workers on 11 September without doubt catapulted them to the ranks of superhero.

Heroes
The images play on the heroism shown by the emergency services
Quesada says, "I think what you start to see is that the actual line between the mythical hero, let's say Captain America, and that worker who was helping people down the stairs and may have died in the rubble, is absolutely wafer thin at this point.

But some critics may regard comic books as a juvenile medium and feel uncomfortable seeing the 11 September rescue workers being depicted as superheroes.

Marvel Comics, home to such legends Spider-Man and X-Men, deliberately tried to keep the focus on the real-life heroes, asking its contributing artists not to include too many cameos from classic superheroes.

Startling

Quesada wanted to ensure that the poster book images did not demean or trivialize the real-life heroism on display at Ground Zero.

He says, "the goal was to have the world's greatest superhero creators honouring the world's greatest heroes." P> The publication contains some startling pictures.

A fireman with his head bowed carrying a dead or injured woman against a backdrop of the smouldering ruins of the World Trade Center.

Two New Yorkers wrapping their arms around one another to protect themselves from glass and concrete as the World Trade Center towers fell.

Not all of the images are confined to New York.

There is a graphic representation of passengers trying to take back control of one of the doomed aircraft from hijackers armed with knives.

One picture appears to be conveying a message of inclusion.

Heroes
Proceeds from the book will go towards the victims of the attacks
It is a portrait of two teenage girls, one of them an Arab-American, holding hands at school while watching the World Trade Center towers engulfed in flames.

The book was put together in a remarkably short space of time.

As Quesada sees it, "it was just sort of a call to arms for the artistic community."

He found all the artists extremely forthcoming and eager to donate their services for free.

Affection

One of the most arresting pictures in the book comes from Joe Quesada, a top comic book artist in his own right.

He collaborated with fellow artists Todd McFarlane and Richard Isanove to draw an exhausted New York fireman, head in his hands, covered in ash resting on a park bench.

Quesada says: "I have a natural affection for the fire department and I've been drawing firemen for years and years.

"On top of that, the fact that our family lost a close friend who was also a fireman in the disaster and that piece was just sort of a compilation of all those emotions, sort of put down on paper."

Heroes is just one of the first of several special publications from the comic book industry in response to the 11 September attacks.

Proceeds of the poster book will be donated to charities serving the families of the World Trade Center victims.

Sales are expected to be brisk.

In some ways it is ironic that the American comic book industry, which has long profited from images of cities being destroyed, should respond so vigorously to the real-life urban destruction in lower Manhattan.

See also:

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