Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rayboy's Review: 9/11 heartbreaker

Craig Staufenberg recently sent me a PDF copy of his twenty-eight page graphic novel "9/11 heartbreaker" along with a request to review the work, and initially I didn’t think that it would be of any interest to me. However, once I opened the file and read the poignant story inside, it surprised me quite a bit. I was riveted by Craig’s themes of memory and how it affects perception from then on. I applaud his storytelling abilities and actually believe that anyone could pick this up and learn something from it. Of course with that title, the tale itself is built around the events of 9/11, but the significance of that seminal American tragedy serves as a nice framework for elements that expand beyond that singular day. You will probably be thinking of much more than the ramifications of the original attack in 2001, but you’ll also be reminded of where you were and what you were doing on that unforgettable date too.

In Craig’s own words: “I started working on 9/11 heartbreaker on a whim, because of a stray thought that found me. I was sitting and thinking about my own memories of 9/11... As I sat there, I began to wonder what other people around my age remembered or thought about that day.

…while I only officially interviewed a few people, everyone I met who heard about the project immediately proceeded to tell me their memory, without my prompting them.

…I wrapped up the interviews then moved back to Buffalo, NY. In Buffalo I listened to the memories I had recorded over and over and over again, trying to figure out the common narrative between them all.

…In the 8 months that it took to write, ‘9/11 heartbreaker’ became about a lot more than just that one day. It became about memory and history. It became about Buffalo and New York City. It became about America. It became about the way that we situate tragedy in our lives- especially when that tragedy feels remote or distant, whether by time or space. Despite the book’s somewhat misleading name, 9/11 heartbreaker became much bigger than that one event.”

I'm often struck by the passion of the creators who toil away in the small press or independent publisher aisles at the larger conventions that I attend. Granted I'm not always drawn to their various unique art styles, but the creativity manifested by this contingent of committed artists and the drive to get their products into the hands of new readers never ceases to amaze & delight me. The art here stands comfortably between typical indie or web material and the type filtered throughout the children’s section of any Barnes & Noble store or in The New Yorker Magazine, for instance.

I encourage you to check out "9/11 heartbreaker" at this link, and please recommend it to your friends.

1 comment:

Britt Reid said...

Sounds fascinating.
Luckily, some of the comics shops I patronize carry the eclectic and unusual, so I'll probaly be able to pick it up from one of them.

One nit-picking point...(and I'm not meaning to put-down the authors in any way...)
28 pages isn't a graphic "novel".
It's a one-shot or a standalone.

Is a 28-page text tale a "novel"?
It's, at best a novella, or more likely, a short story.

Again, it seems to be both a heart-felt and well-done story.
But it's not a novel.