There's a lot going on in this one. Again, my infamous design professor would be proud of the simple but not simplistic work...maybe. I actually had a more tower-focused composition in mind when I started (see process animation below) but realized that opened the work up to an interpretation I was very much not trying to make. At any rate, when I started anew, I made the decision to use with white line work and shading to give the composition a reversed feel. That sort of switch helps the viewer feel there's something amiss, like when they tinted the film green in the "The Matrix." In short, it helps remind us how Sept. 11, 2001 felt on a national scale. The towers themselves were kept minimal (though I thought about adding details) so they would seem ghostly and yet ever present. And, of course, with the headlines what they are in September 2018, the inclusion of Nike's somewhat controversial slogan for its newly announced Colin Kaepernick campaign gives new meaning to the words. It's very satisfying as a cartoonist to be able to flip something on its head like that.
Lastly, while I've stated before I use reference imagery rather than tracing any part of my composition, I actually stuck very close to a particular photo for the fireman figure so the accuracy would draw the viewer's eye and read true. But relax, the photo I copied it from was my own. It's actually a member of the Spirit Lake Fire Department. I took the photo last year while crews were responding to a ditch fire on Center Lake. The fire was minimal and didn't make the paper, but we used the photo as the cover for 2017's "Hometown Heroes" tab. I will note, it's not a strict tracing. I applied the shading to the photo and removed the layer in Photoshop (plus a bit of his right arm was covered so I had to make that up myself).
All in all, this one landed exactly where I wanted it.
This animation of my progress on the panel is a bit different in that I decided to keep some frames of things I erased later (and I'm not too proud to admit I almost let a typo in the text make it to print). You can see the initial sketch of my more tower-focused composition build and then be erased. You'll also notice I considered including a muted numeral 9 as many have done and use the towers themselves as the 11 in the day's abbreviation. However, it really shifted the weight of the panel to the left, and I highly preferred the heavy central emphasis. Not including the scrapped sketch, this cartoon took me about six hours.