Scott Morse tackles the events of September 11th in pictures

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Since mid-September you've been reading about a variety of tribute books dedicated to the heroes and victims of the September 11th attacks on America here at CBR. This Wednesday Marvel Comics' "A Moment of Silence" and Alternative Comics' "9-11: Emergency Relief" hit comic book stores shelves and writer/artist Scott Morse's work can be found in each of them.

For those who may have missed it, "9-11: Emergency Relief" is a collection of stories featuring some of comics greatest talents including Will Eisner, Harvey Pekar, Jeff Smith, and many others, with a cover by Frank Cho. "A Moment of Silence" contains four stories with contributions from Brian Bendis, Scott Morse, Kevin Smith, John Romita Jr., Bill Jemas, Mark Bagley, Joe Quesada and Igor Kordey with a cover by Alex Ross.

Scott Morse is one creator who's found his work published in three of the tribute books. In addition to the above two, Morse's work can also be found in the DC/Dark Horse/Chaos! Comics "September 11" books due later this month. The question is, how did he find himself involed with each of them and where did he find the time?

"[Alternative Comics'] Jeff [Mason] and Dark Horse put out an open call to creators, and Bendis asked if I'd fill in on art chores for Chuck Austen, who had to bow out," Morse told CBR News Saturday. "I had no problem doing any of it...the only trick was, I had MAGIC PICKLE and ANCIENT JOE to finish, still, and I had just got back from Hawaii on my honeymoon. I really had a hard time starting back to work, with these projects as priorities...I had just had the happiest two weeks of my life, then two days later, the attacks."

Getting started Morse did, tackling each contribution enthusiastically, but Morse didn't find the process easy considering how the attacks had affected him personally.

"I had a hard time getting started on all of them. The whole concept of doing autobiographical stories is still hard for me, and this proved to be a sort of trial by fire. I had to weigh what was in my head, my personal feelings, against what I wanted people to read. So each piece I wrote was difficult in that regard. 'Moment of Silence' was gruelling simply because of the exhaustive photo reference I received from the story's main character, a real life firefighter from Ohio. He had sent amazing first hand photos of Ground Zero, along with commentary, of things so visually stunning that it was just exhaustive to have to render them. The stories he had of things that happened, things we didn't incorporate...just mind blowing.

"The story I completed for Dark Horse was a bit crazy, too. It deals with an image I saw on television, an image that implied a sense of brainwashing on the part of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Just the way children have been raised...and the story I did deals with comparisons to how I was raised as an American. There was a lot of editorial commentary on the behalf of Dark Horse (three editors involving themselves) to emphasize certain elements, to strengthen the piece. I think it turned out stronger in the long run, as this sort of round-table discussion transpired about the piece's content. It was really quite amazing that the short could create so much controversy before even shipping to the printer."

With Morse's piece in "9-11: Emergency Relief" he hopes his intended message comes across very clear to readers.

"Mainly that freedom and the American way of life really weren't hurt in the way al Qaeda and the terrorist cells hoped they'd be," said Morse. "America's sense of self is so much more grand than they were hoping it would be. We'll move on, and be stronger, no matter how close we were or weren't to people directly affected by the attacks. It's easy, and incredibly cowardly, to destroy an individual; it's nearly impossible to destroy an idea, like the ones America is built on...and I know this coin has two sides, the notion of their twisted ideas being indestructible as well, but my feeling is that common sense is missing from their belief system. Luckily, and I think we've proven this by our national reaction to the attacks, common sense is a major foundation of what most Americans believe in."

With three different contributions that meant many editors for Morse to work with, each one a different experience.

"At Dark Horse, I dealt mainly with my pal Diana Schutz, but she was one of three or four editors invlovled on their end of a three-company effort, where ultimately there were maybe ten head people. Who knows. I don't know much about their project, save what I've read on-line...a slipcased, two volume deal, with Dark Horse/Chaos in charge of one, and DC on the other. I think it'll be nice package, over-all, if a bit muddled thematically.

"I dealt with Jeff [Mason] on the story you have a preview of. He was great, really pushing the [9-11: Emergency Relief], more so than any of the other publishers, actually. He deserves all the credit. The others seem to be relying on their weight as known companies to carry the books, and that's fine, but it kind of makes these projects less personal, I think. Quesada and Jemas at Marvel have been vocal, and I think that helped 'Heroes' get noticed...that says a lot. Jeff's doing the right thing, contacting everyone he can think of to promote this thing. Design-wise, it should look amazing, and content-wise, it's got something for everyone."

As you can see in the preview of Morse's "9-11: Emergency Relief" contribution the attacks caused Morse to cancel plans to fly over seas. He has flown since, and like so many others who've travelled since, the additional security measures he ran into at the airport were welcome.

"Well, to start, I was never really scared to fly. It was getting stuck in some foreign airport if something major happened that freaked me out, as I'm only fluent in English...typical uncultured American. That, on top of flying without my new wife, leaving her at home, where who knows what all could have happened with me gone (not like I could stop a plane falling out of the sky, but but we opted to stay together if anything did happen).

"I have flown, just a short trip from Burbank to Oakland to see some friends. I wasnt' scared, but I was singled out and frisked for some reason. As inconvenienced as I felt, I'm glad they were on the ball...the tennis shoe incident happened a few days later, with the guy lighting his shoe. As for the flight itself, I was fine...I looked everyone over real good on board the plane, but I was fine other than that. I'm ready to move on, I think.

"At any rate, please do your part to expose the masses to the views and thoughts explored in '9-11: Emergency Relief,' 'Moment of Silence,' and the Dark Horse/DC slipcased collection. Buy multiple copies and give one to the public library in your town. Give one to your parents. Give one to your kids' teachers. And put one aside for the next generation, so they can feel some of the impact of the world we lived in."

Look for "A Moment of Silence" and "9-11: Emergency Relief" in comic stores this Wednesday.

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