10 years since September 11th and the memory for many has begun to fade. There are a few out there who aren’t satisfied to forget, however, and even less satisfied with the explanations of how and why it happened. We got the chance to interview Brian Romanoff about his comicbook The Big Lie, which begins to tackle the conflicting reports of what really happened that day.
Fanboy Confidential: Give our audience a brief idea of your background in comics.
Brian Romanoff: I grew up reading comics. I can’t say what it was that brought me into reading comics, but I eventually was reading a broad variety of stuff. I don’t think I was a strict follower of any titles until I started reading the early Valliant comics; Harbinger, X-O, The “Unity” crossover event was epic for me. I was about 13 years old then. I followed WILDCATS and YoungBlood ….The Tick was always there to make me laugh I was all over the map really. I hadn’t followed the comic scene for close to a decade before starting work on The Big Lie though.
FC: What was the impetus for creating this particular comicbook (The Big Lie)? How soon after 9/11 did the idea present itself?
BR: Thomas Yeates and a few other artists really put The Big Lie project together at it’s earliest points, I came onto the project later, after Rick Veitch. The earliest stages were taken many years ago by deciding to portray some of the interesting questions and anomalies in the official 9/11 narratives that we all heard. Image Comics was supportive from the early stages too.
FC: Why wait so long to finally tell this story? Also, when and how did you become aware of this alternate angle to the 9/11 story?
BR: The Big Lie came to be a priority as the 10th anniversary was coming up. The original concept was discussed for years, but it takes money to make a comic book happen. Fortunately, enough people were interested in making this comic book a reality and believed in the project enough to help finance it. From late May 2010 until now, all of our time has been filled with writing, drawing, researching, editing, coloring and lettering!
I was tasked to develop the website for The Big Lie as well as provide the necessary research into 9/11. My own research into the subject came to start around 2004 when I first read The 9/11 Commission Report. I was very suspect of invading Iraq, I mean, 15 of 19 hijackers were Saudi.
FC: Give the audience that hasn’t read the book a brief synopsis.
BR: It’s been described as an old “EC comic” and a “docu-comic,” among other things. If you liked the old Tales from the Crypt or if you are familiar with the story of 9/11 and the questions around it, you will probably appreciate The Big Lie a lot. The book was aimed to be readable by all. It tells the tale of a woman who has traveled through time to save her husband in the North Tower of the WTC on 9/11. She has all the information released to the public after the 9/11 Commission Report (and before) loaded on her tablet computer. Using her computer she tries to save her husband and his associates by convincing them to evacuate the building. Reality strikes in the end and the reader is faced with a real drama. It can be heavy, but we aimed for the comic to be able to be read by anyone.
FC: What kind of research was involved? was it 100% reading or did you get to interview some of the experts involved?
BR: Thanks for asking – I thought no-one out there would! Short answer is: Both of the above. I read through transcripts of testimony of FBI Agent Harry Samit, read the 9/11 Commission Report for the 2nd time in my life, countless news articles and anything else I could find. It is all documented and even extended at our “Citations Page” online (truthbetoldcomics.com). For the structural aspects of the building I was able to talk to quite a few building professionals familiar with the WTC design, they were sympathetic to the demolitions of the Towers data.
FC: Any concerns about how this book would be received; especially considering the sensitivity of the subject matter, or was that the point — to re-open the debate?
BR: I don’t think anyone wanted to just stir controversy. If it were a perfect world maybe that’s what critical dialogue would be, but we aren’t in a perfect world yet! Everyone involved with this project believed we were a part of something important and special. We believe that the subject matter is relevant and extremely important, everyone put hard work into it. The Big Lie serves a purpose of helping the discussion stay alive. We are 10 years passed 9/11, where are we at? Our kids are growing up in a fear-based war-culture based on a very flimsy narrative that does not fit the evidence on hand. I think it would be important to break that mold at some point and enter back into reality. Hopefully The Big Lie helps do what much of the “mainstream corporate media” has not done as of yet: Get this information out
FC: Reading the book, it strikes me that there are two possible explanations for the events of 9/11. The one you overtly allude to which involves a corrupt government that deliberately allowed the attacks to occur as a precursor to war, the other also alluded to indirectly by the outcome of your fictional time traveling plot. Simple hubris by decision makers which resulted in the mishandling of information. Why take the former to be the more plausible outcome?
BR: Drawing conclusions without sound evidence is dangerous. 1,600 Architects and Engineers (ae911truth.org) have no doubt that explosives took out WTC 7 but this does not mean they know who put the explosives there. The air- defense is another issue, same with the ignoring or almost deliberate stopping of pre-9/11 intelligence.
One of our back pages highlights a very current story involving the CIA and what seems to be a deliberate attempt to not share the most vital information when it was available. For instance the CIA knew that some people involved with USS COLE bombing were travelling around, going to Malaysia for a large Al Qaeda meeting, and coming into the US. This information seems to have stopped at a specific point with a few specific CIA agents. Richard Clarke recently made some very strong allegations regarding this story saying that CIA Director George Tenet lied to the 9/11 Commission Report and “got away with it.”
The story can be followed by typing “Who is Rich Blee?” into your search engine. The CIA has now also threatened the journalists who are releasing this information. In short, there are many pieces to the 9/11 puzzle, and in a 32 page comic we can only put forward so much of that. Hopefully readers will find it interesting enough to share, talk about or research more on their own. Ultimately we support the idea that a real investigation into 9/11 should happen, so that all of these details and anomalies can be figured out, questions be put to rest and justice be served.
FC: How has the book been received by the comics community at large, and then by the mainstream media? More good than bad reactions, how is it going thus far?
BR: The hardest part of even just talking about 9/11 in an adult manner without insults, is finding people who are ready to do so. Many people automatically respond by saying we are “disrespecting the victims and family members of 9/11” or that we are “conspiracy kooks” just trying to help promote “distrust” and “crazy theories.” This could not be farther from the truth. It was the Jersey Girls (4 widows from 9/11) that pressured the Government to form the 9/11 Commission Report. It was the family members who were disappointed with the Report when it was released.
Many of the family members today are calling for a new 9/11 investigation (rememberbuilding7.org). The Big Lie also featured a recent and relevant quote from Lorie Van Aukin, a 9/11 widow. The comic community is not keen on all of this information and has been slow to digest the comic. However, the media was surprisingly supportive: USA Today, The Huffington Post and Al Jazeera are some major media outlets that gave us some attention without insults. We knew that not everyone would like or agree with The Big Lie – that’s OK, we can’t win them all!
FC: This particular book is labeled issue #1. Are there more issues planned, or is this a one-off?
BR: The entire team on The Big Lie was an amazing working group. Rick, Gary, Thomas, Annie and Dominic were all a blast to work with and all supported the concept early on as I mentioned earlier. We would all like to continue with more issues, there are ideas and discussions taking place. Financial resources are a real obstacle and will play a role in shaping future projects. The Big Lie will not be a monthly series, but Issue#2 will most likely be on store shelves soon enough. We did not even have space in Issue #1 to cover the PATRIOT Act or some really weird financial transactions in the stock market that show some level of insider knowledge leading up to 9/11.
FC: Is the plan to tackle other conspiracies in the future? to continue “the Big Lie” by exposing other similar cover-ups.
BR: The question is where to start? Would it be the WMD scam? Would it be the theft of our economy? Would it be Libya? Maybe the 2000 and 2004 US elections? The invasion of Iraq in the 90’s? The Gulf of Tonkin incident?
Has there been a JFK comic book yet? If we could, we would do it all. As long as there are facts to follow, we would love to help bring light to those facts in the comic book medium
FC: My votes for Libya and the Economy. Thanks for the great interview Brian.
The Big Lie is published via Image Comics, and is in stores now.