He Walks On Air, I Walk On Eggshells

This two page comic drawn for the 2002 charity anthology 9-11: Artists Respond tells the story of French daredevil Philippe Petit’s 1974 wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center, which was also the subject of the recent award-winning documentary Man On Wire. I could classify this one as a comic for hire, but to me it doesn’t qualify because I wasn’t paid for it. The book was in aid of some worthy charity I can’t recall- possibly a fund for firemen’s wives whose husbands had left them for 9/11 widows- and all contributors waived their fees.

When I was invited to contribute to the book, I was faced with the dilemma of how to say something original about 9/11 without being either banal or offensive. I seized on Petit’s half-forgotten stunt as a clever way of addressing the attacks indirectly, avoiding what l saw as the instant clichés of the 9/11 story- the flag raised at Ground Zero, superheroes saluting firefighters, the cartoonist sipping his coffee as the sight of the towers falling on TV triggers the poignant memory of a trip to the Trade Center at age ten. The makers of the documentary appear to have had a similar idea, though of course I couldn’t match their resources or access to the original participants.

This old story qualifies as a current event because the Lazarides Gallery, Soho, London is showing the art in the ctrl.alt.shift Unmasks Corruption exhibit which runs from Nov. 6th through Nov. 30th as part of the Comica Festival in London. I won’t be able to attend, so I’d appreciate any reports back from readers of this blog who do make it out there.

You can view the story big at Comics Lifestyle. Special thanks to Brendan Wright at Dark Horse for tracking down the original image files.

Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption

Lazarides Gallery, Soho, London U.K.
November 6 to November 30, 2009