Bigger Than Just Me

I’ve mentioned a time or two that I spent some time writing and drawing my own comic books. Nothing big time. They were photocopied minicomics that I distributed by hand and through mail order ads in The Comics Buyer’s Guide.

This was still early days of the internet circa 1999 to 2001 and I didn’t have access to a scanner so I didn’t do a lot online. Believe it or not, a lot of things that younger people take for granted now were simply beyond my financial scope at the time.

The second to last comic I drew told a story about the birth of the main character’s child. It was pretty similar to what I experienced in the birth of my own child.

One of the last comics I drew had a much deeper effect on me though it was about an experience I shared with the entire country and many, many people around the world.

I was at work when 9/11 happened. I was told that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and I went out to check the big TV for any other information because it would probably affect our business. That was when I saw the second plane hit and we all knew that the USA was under attack. My job at the time had me in charge of roughly thirty people who were working that day, among them the wife of a serviceman. Because we worked with the public we knew business was going to be down that day. Everyone was going to be glued to a radio or TV or if they had the Internet they would be at their computers.

Everyone on staff took turns going out to watch the TV. I couldn’t stop them and I didn’t try.

I was horrified all day long, and when I finally got the chance to call my parents, they were in good spirits though I worried a little about them until then.

September 11th is their wedding anniversary.

To say that something like the 9/11 attacks is a life event is a bit incongruous for me, I suppose. At least it’s nothing like it was for anyone who has a direct connection to New York or the Pentagon or the brave, brave people on Flight 93. I don’t have anyone in my immediate family in the military, either. But the attacks did have an effect. I’m an American and this was the first time I felt like my country was in danger.

I worried for myself, my parents, my friends and most especially for my son. As we lived through that day and the ones that followed, I didn’t know what was coming. None of us did. All we could do was hope.

Fast forward a year. The news was incessantly rerunning everything in their eagerness to get to the one year anniversary of the event. It seemed to me that the one thing that had gotten lost in all the media blitz was the story of those heroes in the air over Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I knew I could pay tribute to them and at the same time take back the day for my parents by writing and drawing a story. So I did.

In that the events of September 11, 2001, touched me, I was compelled by the brave people flying overhead like superheroes that day to say something in their honor. This is that story:

These two pages hang in the Memorial Unions at the University of Kansas if you want to see them in person.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at

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