Rick Veitch wants you to think about things. Specifically, the writer/artist wants readers to think about the events of 9/11. Set to debut nearly 10 years after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, “The Big Lie” from Image Comics features a physicist named Sandra who goes back in time to save her husband from perishing in the World Trade Center buildings. Veitch teamed with longtime collaborator Gary Erskine on inks as well as editors Thomas Yeates and Brian Romanoff who got the ball rolling on the project and saw it through to completion. CBR News spoke with Veitch about what he wants readers to come away thinking after reading the miniseries, how Uncle Sam comes into play and the problems Sandra encounters in her quest to save her husband.
“She’s in a race against time to convince people in 2001 that the attack is about to happen,” Veitch told CBR News. “She’d hoped to arrive five days before the attack but something goes wrong and she arrives only an hour before the plane hits. Her husband works for a risk management agency and he and his co-workers don’t believe her.”
Time travel and intense interactions aren’t the only comic book hallmarks found in the pages of “The Big Lie;” Veitch and company also utilize a familiar storytelling device in the form of American icon Uncle Sam.
“He’s the narrator,” Veitch said. “Our Uncle Creepy if you will. Only he’s a good guy. Feisty and not easily duped.”
“Feisty” is a word that could also be used to describe Veitch’s artistic collaborator, inker Gary Erskine.
“Gary is the best. He really gets my pencils and the sometimes subversive directions my comics tend to go in,” Veitch said. “He’s one of those amazing pros who can party all night, be fresh as a daisy in the morning and has never missed a deadline.”
Veitch also had help from editors Romanoff and Yeates, the latter of whom actually came up with the idea for the book and pitched it to the writer.
“The person who conceived of this, and who has spent a couple years doggedly pulling it together, is Thomas Yeates,” Veitch explained. “He got Image interested, and he dug what Gary Erskine and I were doing on ‘Army@Love’ so he asked if we’d want to do the first issue. Then he found Brian Romanoff who organized funding and provided a knowledge base.”
No stranger to writing about 9/11 with 2007’s “Can’t Get No” Vertigo graphic novel already under his belt, Veitch still finds he has something to say about the tragedy and its effect on the nation.
“If you are an American of my age, 9/11 was a major event; emotionally and politically” Veitch said. “How can an artist not want to explore it? ‘Can’t Get No’ was a flutterball about the emotional side of 9/11. ‘The Big Lie’ is a fastball aimed straight at the politics.”
Composing the story — which features not only several theories on what actually happened during 9/11 and after, but also the Large Hadron Collider — was no small task, but Veitch was up for the challenge.
“Man, there’s so much disinformation, much of it highly charged politically, that it’s no easy job wading through,” Veitch said. “The debate has turned into a decade long troll fest, with polarized and entrenched groups insulting and debunking each other. Fortunately, in the middle of that are guys like Brian, who work diligently to separate fact from fiction.”
Veitch liked working with so many complex ideas in an effort to get the truth out there to the reader, but he also wants to give them a good show.
“You always want to entertain readers,” Veitch said. “We’ve constructed the first issue of ‘The Big Lie’ as a taut self-contained ensemble drama, kind of like those old ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes. But in this case we also want to enlighten, so we’ve woven the information we want readers to consider into the narrative. The take away, I hope, is that there ought to be a new and independent investigation into the bad smell surrounding the whole affair.”