Robot 6

Talking Comics with Tim | Rick Veitch

The Big Lie

Less than a month ago (and just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11), Rick Veitch‘s latest project (published by Image), The Big Lie, was released. While the one-shot has already been released, it’s clear that Veitch hopes the comic can foster discussion. As a storyteller who began pursuit of his craft in the early 1970s, Veitch has a perspective and creative voice shaped by a wealth of experience that few active current creators possess. In that spirit, I interviewed Veitch via email about his latest collaboration with artist Gary Erskine. While it was a one-shot so far, Veitch clearly intends to do more with The Big Lie platform. Here’s Image’s official description of the story: “A lab tech travels back in time on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 to try and get her husband out of the world trade center before it falls, but will the facts convince him before it’s too late?” For additional context on The Big Lie, be sure to also read CBR’s August interview with Veitch as well the preview we ran in late July.

Tim O’Shea: Do you bristle at the characterization by some that this is a Truther comic?

Rick Veitch: Only in the sense that the “Truther” name lumps together everyone who doubts the government’s version of what happened. I think there’s a huge difference between the architects and engineers who’ve put their professional careers on the line by speaking out and those who are claiming space aliens were responsible.

O’Shea: In Chad Nevett’s CBR review of The Big Lie, he wrote: “Obviously meant to present as convincing an argument as possible by giving voice to counterarguments, the contrast of Sandra’s emotional hysterics and the men’s cold logic turns it all into a farce, a comedy skit. It’s very reminiscent of a Jack Chick comic in the way that it tries to be so serious on its subject and winds up producing laughs as a result. Various running jokes, including one about the iPad, don’t help in that regard.” How much did you strive to try to keep the book from being preachy (and avoid Jack Chick comparisons) while still tackling the concerns you felt needed to be addressed in the story?

Veitch: I don’t share Jack Chick’s religious beliefs, but I find his comics irresistible. The Big Lie uses the same narrative device of embedding a propaganda message within a drama (although I prefer to think of our book as an act of anti-propaganda).

What’s different is we’ve strived to humanize our characters a bit more than Jack used to. Sandra looks like a 45 year old lady. None of the men have chiseled physiques. No one is a paragon of virtue or evil incarnate. They’re just people going about their daily lives. I can’t think of a better way to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

O’Shea: Was there any hesitation in releasing the book so close to the 10th anniversary, for fear of it being perceived as exploitative with its timing?

Veitch: Thomas Yeates and I had been discussing this project for about five years. The oncoming anniversary did help us move from talking to doing. But this isn’t a money making project. It’s an act of political theater, if you will. And in this day and age, whatever you do and whenever you do it is going to inspire some yahoo on the internet to call you exploitive.

O’Shea: In tackling such a politically charged topic (albeit through the lens of time travel/Twilight Zone vibe, as you liken it in this CBR interview)–did you fear alienating some of your readership for future stories? Or do you trust that your long-standing track record of respected and engaging creative work speaks for itself?

Veitch: I do a lousy John Wayne imitation but here goes: “Sometimes a man’s gotta’ do what a man’s gotta’ do”.

I suspect my longtime readers know my history as an underground cartoonist. My first printed comic, Two-Fisted Zombies, was published by Last Gasp in 1972. The Big Lie might seem a little strange to today’s comic book fan subsisting on empty-calorie superheroes, but there’s a long proud history of counterculture cartoonists speaking out about politics and repression.

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O’Shea: You clearly don’t bristle at criticism of the work, as evidenced by the fact you yourself linked to this Wired review (and the discussion that ensued)? Would you say one of your main goals was to get people talking?

Veitch: After the release of Can’t Get No, as a perverse exercise, I posted all the reviews, good bad and indifferent.

I think it cured me of having my feelings either pumped or deflated by reviews. I usually find something useful or interesting in all of them. And in a way its an honor when someone reads my work and is prompted to respond, you know?

O’Shea: What’s on the horizon for future tales in The Big Lie?

Veitch: The first issue was a sort of basic overview of the big unanswered questions surrounding the attacks. What we’re discussing is focusing in on certain important aspects of 9/11 like the money trail and the Patriot Act.

O’Shea: Clearly the work generated a great deal of reaction, was there any reaction that surprised/pleased you more than others?

Veitch: I got contacted by someone asking if I’d based one of my characters on a real person who died that day. That set me back a bit. But I think the best reaction was the mainstream news coverage the book received. One of the things that has been frustrating those who are asking for a new independent investigation is that the there has been a virtual media blackout on the valid questions being raised. Somehow our comic seemed to open the door to discussions and reporting on these questions. In that sense it has fulfilled one of its most important goals.

O’Shea: What were some of the biggest challenges in terms of trying to tackle the scope of your story in this first issue, without running our of pages to tell the tale?

Veitch: It’s a hell of a thing to get your head around. The physical evidence points to the distinct possibility that the three towers were brought down by demolitions. The implications of what that might mean if it were proved true are monstrous. I personally think it would behoove the government to convincingly clear the air about this thing. By ignoring the science they are only feeding conspiracy theories.



It takes guts to put your neck out on the line for something you believe in. While I have a harder time accepting the ideas in this comic than say, the JFK assassination, I wish media outlets would stop the desperate rush to try and discredit these idea and actually give them the same shake they give the “official stories” which they often devote little or no time to confirming so long as a government mouth piece is issuing them.

So congrats Rick. It takes a real man to stand by his beliefs.

Speaking for myself: I thought it was dreck, but no, it hasn’t put me off buying Veitch’s work in the future — just his work on this subject.

I love Veitch, I think he’s a great artist and storyteller — and I think none of that was on display in this story. The biggest flaw with the Jack Chick comparison is that Chick tracts are fun to read. This was just bland and derivative, never mind what I think of its message.

Can’t Get No, by contrast, was an amazing Veitch 9/11 book, and highly recommended. It’s less about the events of 9/11 themselves than the feelings of loss and helplessness, and the search for common ground, that it engendered. And it’s beautifully, stylistically told — without words.

I found the opening bit to be the most revealing:
Tim O’Shea: Do you bristle at the characterization by some that this is a Truther comic?

Rick Veitch: Only in the sense that the “Truther” name lumps together everyone who doubts the government’s version of what happened. I think there’s a huge difference between the architects and engineers who’ve put their professional careers on the line by speaking out and those who are claiming space aliens were responsible.
Let’s put this in another context:

Q: Do you bristle at the characterization by some that this is a Creationist comic?

A: Only in the sense that the ‘Creationist’ name lumps together everyone who doubts science’s version of what happened. I think there’s a huge difference between religious scientists who’ve put their professional careers on the line by speaking out in support of a young Earth and those who are claiming that the Christian God was responsible.

In other words, Rick thinks there’s a huge difference between people who are varying degrees of wrong. I suppose there may be, but I don’t see pointing fingers at the lunatic fringes somehow legitimizing groups who are still blatantly incorrect — regardless of how much less crazy they are than said fringes.

We’re entitled to our own opinions, but we’re not entitled to our own facts. Continuing to believe as Truthers do is to support a faith-based position that flies in the face of established scientific, testable evidence. And this isn’t evidence that was “created” by the government any more than precambrian-era fossils were “created” by evolutionary biologists to throw us off the trail. Like evolution, we find that the case just happens to be true.

Rick’s citing of architects and engineers who are Truthers is an Appeal to Authority fallacy — the very same kind that alien cover-up lunatics on TV perpetuate when they point to Air Force Pilots or Police Officers who share their beliefs. Professional opinions are worth nothing when they fly in the face of all the established scientific evidence. And the Burden of Proof is on the Truthers, Rick, because they are the ones who are trying to unseat what is currently established and understood to be reality.

Which is not to say that it can’t be done. Our perspectives CAN be changed. But we need evidence, Rick. Evidence is all that matters. And it has not been forthcoming. Which is why — at THIS point — continuing to hold these beliefs is a faith-based position, tantamount to believing the Earth is only thousands of years old.

Does the main character have a magic water hand?

The burden of proof IS on the government, because the government (particularly the Bush administration) has used their narrative of the events of 9/11 to justify two wars, bankrupt the country and strip millions of people of their civil liberties. There ARE simply too many coincidences for that narrative to be taken at face value: the destruction of Building 7, the size of the hole in the Pentagon, the Project for a New American Century, the temperature of the fires in the Towers, the removal of the rubble before it could be analyzed, etc.

Many theories posited about the events of 9/11 are plainly preposterous, but that doesn’t change the fact that the findings of the 9/11 Commission are based largely on conjecture, ignore key areas of interest (notably the destruction of Building 7) and that most of the Report concerns itself not with the events of the day but with recommendations of how to retaliate against those it almost arbitrarily decides to hold responsible.

This is getting beyond crazy. This “it’s all Bush’s fault” rhetoric lacks any kind of intelligence and basic understanding of the United States government. If (A great big fat IF) the government had ANYTHING to do with 9/11, both political parties would have had to be in on it. Good lord. To believe it in any other way (Again IF) is just naive. Insanely naive.

I’m a big fan of Rick’s artwork from 1993 and Greyshirt, but this latest effort is silly. I encourage Rick to spend some time comparing Truther Richard Gage’s resume (Bachelors’ Degree in Architecture from USC and designed a couple of high school gymnasiums) with that of Dr Shyam Sunder (Masters and Doctorate of Science from MIT), who led the NIST investigation into the collapses of the towers and WTC-7. The experts are all on the side of NIST; a tiny percentage ( there are cranks and crackpots in any field) are on the side of AE9-11 Truthiness.

wow… I pre-ordered this, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet… Definitely going to be on top of the read-pile tonight…

Creighton Jackson

October 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

I can’t believe Image published this stuff. What’s next, a holocaust-denying comic series?

Yikes. I mean, I’m a HUGE Veitch fan–but I wish he wouldn’t be so ambiguous about what he believes. You can see it in his answers–he’s a ‘Truther’ for lack of a better word.

Why does a discussion about critiquing a comic book deviate into the specifics of 9/11? Anwyay, several of the commenters have exposed little more than their complete ignorance of the subject. So here is a reminder of the 6th grade 9/11 class:


Pat Curley is a “professional debunker”, meaning he spends his every waking moment propping up the absurd “official story” of 9/11. Pat, get a job. 9/11 was a total fraud from top to bottom. The lie of the century.

Funnily this comic was NOT listed on the wiki page regarding comic books about 9-11. No matter what you think of the comic and its stance it most definitely NEEDS to be listed. I just amended the page to add it…I expect it to be pulled very quickly … check here

I suppose even just listing it will be considered treason or something

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