London Gallery Plans the Most Patriotic 9/11 Tribute You'd Ever Want to See

"Hero II" by Ben Turnbull

When you think about it, most of the really good comic books have been in some way associated with the U.K. Nearly every title written by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison is worth reading, and Neil Gaiman has his moments too.

It’s not entirely odd, then, that the most comic book-centric salute to 9/11 is set to debut at Eleven Fine Art in London on September 16. Ben Turnbull’s “Supermen – An Exhibition of Heroes” features patriotic images like the faces of firemen and or “The Amazing Fire-Man” written in Marvel-style block lettering. At first glance it looks like the sort of thing that might be sold at a frame store in a Midwestern mall. The twist is that the images are all made from comic books,  scrupulously carved from Mr. Turbull’s own 20-year collection, some of them fairly valuable.

“It was like religious cutting each piece making sure it’s relevant, making sure you don’t have any bad guys,” Mr. Turnbull said over the phone from London. His firemen’s coats are Batman and Captain America-heavy, the red parts of their helmets are usually Spider-Men, and the white space around them is actually the bone-grey of aged speech bubbles.

“There’s so many speech bubbles, for someone to actually pick out one would be one in a million,” Mr Turnbull said of someone interpreting his work. “But there’s so many you could look at and you could say, ‘Wow that’s got real relevance.’”

“It’s funny in a way,” he said. “The superheroes they’re flawed sometimes, but for the most part they’re invincible and I think that matched beautifully with the real-life heroes.”

“Saying that, of course, Spider-Man did just die [in Ultimate Spider-Man #160],” he added, with a laugh. “And they actually killed Captain America, though I think he’s coming back.”

“Supermen – An Exhibition of Heroes” runs at Eleven Fine Art until October 22.

London Gallery Plans the Most Patriotic 9/11 Tribute You'd Ever Want to See