The Bus Drawings: A 9/11 Survivor’s Diary

9/11 survivor Thomas Haddad’s wildly diverse, frequently phantasmagorical “drawings from the bus” have the mythic detailing of a tarot deck, but also an exaggerated, grotesque quality resonant with underground comics and the work of Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Haddad was at work as a design director, his office just 30 feet below the site of impact. “As a visual person, the events of 9/11 were overwhelming and I began to shut down,” he writes. “Thankfully my wife had the insight to recognize that I needed to refocus myself … So she bought me a sketchbook and suggested that I use it as a diary in pictures.”

The Fabulist is honored to share a few of these deeply personal, strangely beautiful works.

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I was on the 89th floor of WTC 1 on 9/11. My office faced north ... which put me 30 feet below the site of impact. My office was within the huge hole that was seen in all of the news coverage. That I got out at all was a miracle.

My job as Creative Director has never lent itself to incorporating illustrations, so my main creative focus for years was strictly on design. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say, for years I had lost touch with drawing completely.

As a visual person, the events of 9/11 were overwhelming and I began to shut down. Thankfully my wife had the insight to recognize that I needed to refocus myself — she thought that a reconnection with drawing could help me through my emotions. So she bought me a sketchbook and suggested that I use it as a diary in pictures. That's how I started drawing on the bus. It took me four years of drawing before I ever shared them with anyone. These are very personal works for me, exploring my feelings about life.

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