Slate is running an online version of “The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation.” Ever since I came across Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” — one of the best and most chilling Holocast narratives I’ve ever seen — I’ve been a big fan of the graphic novel format as a method for relating history (another, much quirkier example: “The Fatal Bullet,” a retelling of the James A. Garfield assassination). I don’t think such treatments are replacements for deeper reading, but they can make complex historical subjects more accessible to a wide audience.
In the case of the new 9/11 comic book, you won’t learn anything new if you paid attention to the original report and other accounts. But seeing the events in pictorial form has a way of bringing them freshly to mind. Whether a lot of people want to have that day put in front of them is another matter; I tend to think the day is worth contemplating and contemplating again. (The Washington Post, which I believe owns Slate, ran a story on the book last month. Among other things, the piece mentions that the authors’ previous credits include un-revolutionary stand-bys like “Richie Rich” and “Caspar” — you know, the friendly ghost).