On this special episode of 9/11 Free Fall, the tables are turned as guest host Craig McKee interviews Andy Steele, the creator and longtime host of 9/11 Free Fall, about his soon-to-be-released graphic novel, Born on 9/11.
Steele’s book tells the fictional tale of a young man who was born on September 11, 2001 — the same day his father, a firefighter, died in the World Trade Center. As he comes of age, the son begins to question the official story of 9/11 and wages a battle to expose the truth about his father’s murder.
In the interview, Steele talks about the process of writing and illustrating the 380-page novel and what he hopes it will achieve for the cause of 9/11 Truth.
Born on 9/11 is on pre-sale until Sunday, August 1 (tomorrow!). Pre-order now for a 20% discount and be the first to receive it when it’s released!
Welcome to 9/11 Free Fall. My name is Craig McKee, and I'm your host for this show only. If you're wondering what happened to Andy Steele, our regular host, he's not sick and there hasn't been a coup or anything like that. He's actually right here with us, and he's actually going to be the guest on tonight's show. And the reason for that is because Andy has written a terrific graphic novel called Born on 9/11. And so we're going to be finding out from him all about that on this show. So welcome to 9/11 Free Fall, Andy.
Thank you, Craig.
Welcome to your own show.
Yeah. Thank you for filling in because it's way more psychologically satisfying to talk to somebody than to talk to an empty room. I've tried that so many times, and I don't know, I just don't feel it when I'm doing that. I got to have somebody, and I thought the best person to fill in on this today is you. So thank you for stepping up.
Well, thank you. A lot of people have told me that I'm better than an empty room to talk to, so that's always nice to hear from people. Now, this is a graphic novel that you have created. And before we get into the details about what you've done, I wondered if you could just give us kind of an overview of your background in doing this kind of thing. Like how long have you been doing graphic novels or comics or whatever, and maybe you could take us through the history of that.
Sure. Be happy to. Comics in general, ever since I was a little kid that I probably… when I was supposed to be paying attention in class, I'd just be doodling little pictures on my notebook. I never really got in trouble for it, but that would be how I spent the time. Somehow the information still got in there, but there'd be some pretty cool pictures of some exciting stuff going on right next to my math notes and things like that. So ever since I was a kid, I always liked this stuff. And I always like to look at pictures and see illustrations more than even just the written word, because then it's just more exciting to me, you know? And I think I actually learned how to read by reading my brother's comic books, sneaking into his room and going through this old box that used to hold apples.
He kept his comic books and I'd go through them. So I've always liked this kind of medium. And I did some cartooning in college, took one art class there. Most of my stuff I just taught myself. And about in 2017, 2016, I kind of picked it up again, picked up some new methodologies and stuff, just sort of as a stress relief. And my mom was really encouraging me to do that. And she's like, you got to do something other than 9/11. You know, you used to like to draw and write and all of this. And I said, okay, I'll do that. And then I turned it into a 9/11 thing. But I think with good results in the end. So that is pretty much the history of it. I had a little comic strip I used to print up back in college, and then I had a cartoon where I would do it along with the editor's editorial for the week. But that was pretty much the extent of my past experience.
Did you have sort of ambitions that you were going to want to do this professionally or that you would end up doing, at some point, like a full length graphic novel?
When I was 13, I used to think it'd be cool to work at Marvel or DC or something like that, but then kind of real life sets in and you're like, well, that'd be really hard to do and get people talking in your ear and saying, are you got to try to pursue something that's real, that's possible, that's obtainable. So I kind of let that go. And then when I started doing this again, it was mainly for fun, just little cartoons of people I know. And that's actually how my comic in college got started. It was just kind of making fun of people I know, and then we all had a good laugh about it. But it became like this weekly thing and I used to distribute it around the campus. So, no, I didn't really take it that seriously when I got going again as an adult, but I realized, hey, this is looking pretty cool.
And I started on another story that I was just going to work on in my free time. But then it occurred to me, I had this idea for... I've always thought that 9/11 Truth needed sort of its own story, even if it's fictional, where you can incorporate the evidence and some of the real tragedy involved in this event, along with some of the stories and stuff. But we need sort of our JFK. I remember that when I was a kid, my mom made me watch it ‘cause she never believed the official story on JFK. And it had an impact on me back then. It had an impact on a lot of people, got a lot of attention. I don't have the resources to go make a big budget film like Oliver Stone, but this is something that I could do.
I could do it with very little expense in the sense that I could just kind of… I didn't really have to hire anybody. I could just do it myself if I took my time on it. And so this is what I did for a number of years, kind of under the radar at nighttime, before bed, just put a couple of hours in and work on this. And after I'd written the script, I really liked the story, and I'd run it by our boss, Kelly David. She liked the story. And she was very encouraging and continuing to do it. And I think again, I think it came to a very good result at the end, but this took a time because I have a regular job during the day, so I just assigned time at night. And at night you get kind of tired, so one night might be better than the other one. But eventually it got finished.
Well, I mean, when you started out doing this on this particular project, did you kind of know what you wanted it to become? Because I think I heard you tell me one time that you've been on this for about four years. So I'm just kind of wondering if you go back four years, was this something that you did envisage, I guess what ended up being done, or did you have some, other idea about it at the beginning, what it might become?
The end result that we got was what I imagined. And I worked very hard to make sure that everybody that is in the story looked exactly as they looked like in my imagination. And there were some characters… it was a little hard to do until I figured it out. There'd be some scenes that would just be done in an hour or so, and it would be perfect the first time. Other ones I had to kind of go back to the drawing board when I didn’t really portray it the way that I want it to. So yeah, but when I first started, I actually proposed the idea to Ted our director of strategy, Ted Walter. I told him the general idea, and I said, is this something that AE would want to be involved with if I actually got this accomplished? And he liked the general idea of it.
So there was one night I started about 10 o'clock at night, and I always write a script first when I do these things, of course this was going to be a really long script. I didn't imagine it being as long as it was going to be. I originally just thought it was going to be four chapters and then it ended up just getting longer and longer, the story. But I remember when I first started this… and I sort of had the okay from Ted saying, yeah, this would be something we'd be interested in if it was done right. I cranked out the first chapter of the script in one night. I didn't go to bed, and I kind of submitted that and was like, yeah, well this got a little bit long, but this would be kind of what the characters would be. And they said, just keep doing it.
And when I was done, I remember Susan on our staff read the script, Kelly David did, and they really liked it. And so I was like, okay, I'm going to go ahead and start doing the art now. And that's just what I did. It's strange, though, when you do something like this, you write a script and then in the script you're like, this doesn't really work out on the page or you might do a rewrite or you might change a certain plot development or something. So even the original script is different from what the final product was because I make a lot of changes as I'm going through. So yeah, I've done these comics before. I've never actually submitted them to anyone, but just like little ones, nothing this big though, because you asked me that before, but in the end, after I'd had the script and I realized that this would be the story pretty much the way it looked is exactly what I had intended from the beginning.
So when you write a script for a graphic novel, what form does that take? I mean, is it similar to like what you might write for a movie or do you just write it in kind of point form or just like an outline or how do you create a script for a graphic novel?
There might be some official way to do it. I don't know. I just did it my way. I'll just write, pick, and then write a picture description, which was really just a note to myself that I may or may not follow when I actually get to doing it. But then the rest of it is just like writing a regular play script. You know, you put the characters name and a colon and then what they say. So when I sent it to Susan to do the first sort of edit, looking for all my punctuation mistakes and grammar and whatnot. I said don't pay attention to the picture descriptions. That's probably going to change as I go along. Just look at the actual dialogue, and make sure that I didn't miss any commas or so that's the way it is.
Look, I'm the kind of guy that look at the recipe box or the recipe on the box as sort of like a general suggestion, but if I think something can work better, I just kind of go with that. Or I go off of instinct, stick it in the microwave for three minutes. That'll probably do it. If it's over cooking, I'll turn it off and be like, okay, that's enough. And I may not even glance at the recipe box. And I think people need to go about many things that way, because we have so many people out there in our world are trying to control the arts, trying to control how everybody thinks and how everybody does things. I mean, it's smart to learn from wise elders and better yourself and better your own talents, but also you got to listen to yourself and follow your own path in this life. So that's how I do it. I don't know. There might be some official way, but I got my own way and it works for me.
Right. Well, I mean, I've read your graphic novel, so I know the story, but rather than asking any questions about the story, the specifics of the story, and risk maybe letting something out that I shouldn't, why don't you give us kind of an idea of what the premise of the story is, and you can obviously go as far as you think you should go in, in giving us an idea of what the story is. Right.
Well, okay. So the main character is a person named Kevin Langdon. He's 18 years old. He was born on the exact same day that his father died at the World Trade Center on September 11. So he was born on 911, hence the title. So just almost exactly at the same moment, and he's coming into this world, his father is leaving. His father dies in the north tower in the very beginning. And that is the prologue of the story. And from there he's 18 years old, he's waking up to a lot of the evidence is put out by AE911Truth. And as this audience will know, they can really change your life as you go forward. It changes your world view. And there's some things that happen in the story that prompt him to go out and speak out more about this kind of slowly.
He's kind of a shy kid in the beginning. And he's got some pressures on him because they created a foundation in his father's name because his father had run back into the tower and, and to save more lives and was remembered as a 9/11 hero in this fictional world. And he's one of the spokesmen for us. So there's that riding on him, his name associated with it. So there's some dangerous… and as he speaks out more, we start to see more of the consequences. I mean, if you think about his role in all of this, his story, being a 9/11 family member and speaking out, it does carry this risk because his name and his credibility, having lost his father on that day, and just the story behind him gets attention. And so, of course, it's going to bring more heat.
As we all know, Craig, here in the 9/11 Truth Movement, as we speak out more and really dig in and take a stance, a lot of the bad forces come out and try to interfere with our actions. And I really just wanted to use this as an opportunity to give the 9/11 Truth Movement its own Rocky character. I think we all need that. I mean, whether people admit it or not, entertainment is a big part of our lives. I think Stan Lee said that he used to feel bad because he wrote comic books, but then you realize that entertainment plays such an important part in people's lives. And you have a bad day, you may want to just veg out and watch a movie or read a book. That it was really important what he was doing, but also it's inspiring.
You know, sometimes people need to see things played out in a fictional setting, to find the courage themselves to be able to take the same steps. I mean, even science is influenced by science fiction. I mean, long before we were sending rockets up into space, Jules Verne was writing about going to the Moon in a rocket like a hundred years before that. So a lot of times the ideas for things come right from fiction, and I think the 9/11 Truth Movement needs this. And when we take a lot of hits as we go forward, and it's hard to keep yourself in the game for some people. Why do you keep doing this, people ask themselves? And I don't know, I just thought that we needed some kind of story to inspire. So I think it's worth the read and people should check it out.
Yeah. I mean, I can say that I related to a lot of what your main character went through. Obviously it's because, as you say, it's fiction, so it's a bigger story than most individual 9/11 truthers maybe have gone through themselves. But I certainly related to much of it. Kevin, you're a main character, not only does he deal with condemnation from the media, but he deals with condemnation from people he knows at school from his teachers. And that's something that certainly, virtually every single 9/11 truther can relate to that, can relate to the fact that in order to take the stand that we do, that we're going to alienate some people that otherwise wouldn't be alienated from us. So yeah, maybe again, sort of talk about that a little.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, something that I tried to capture, especially in one scene is that awkward look that people give you when they've come to find out that not only are you believing this or are agreeing with evidence such as that put by AE911Truth, but when you actually start openly saying it and not caring anymore. I mean a lot of people in this audience may be able to identify with that. Something has changed in their perception of you. So I tried to capture that in some of the images. But yeah, I mean, we've all experienced that. Look, I can remember being out on a blind date my cousin had set me up with when I first… I didn't just wake up to 9/11 in one day and say, Hey, 9/11 was an inside job. I'm going to go out and become an activist for this.
I did not want to believe this. I did not want to be one of these people who talks about these kinds of things, but I couldn't get it out of my head. And I remember being out on this date and there was a celebrity that had questioned 9/11 and the media was going after this person. And I was like, that's kind of unfair. I mean, all he did was just kind of raise some reasonable questions, and they're just dragging this guy over the coals. And this girl's like, you're starting to scare me. You sound like a conspiracy theorist. Right then in my mind, I'm like, okay, this is done. I didn't get up and leave or anything. I mean, I was polite, but I just thought, okay, like, the fact that you would say something like that, it just proves that you're not the person for me here. But that was just a small spark of what I would see on a bigger scale as I went forward in the 9/11 Truth Movement.
I mean, you would see the media just be downright hostile to anybody asking these very reasonable questions and just outright lying about them and misrepresenting them. So it was sort of an odyssey for me. I mean, to the point where I would see people showing up at rallies that were obviously not really truthers trying to make us look crazy and all of this and saying that the planes were holograms and all. Things that were just completely out of left field and not based in any kind of fact or common sense. But like one of them actually admitted to me that that's what they were there to do. They were proud of it. And I was like, wow, this is for real. You combine that with the evidence that Richard talks about and all the other experts at AE911Truth, I was like, wow, this is like, what really happened here.
And there really is an effort to try to squelch it. So I try to capture that in the story, give sort of a similar journey that a lot of us have experienced, and I want people to find hope in this. And I also want to stress this idea that people are waiting for some kind of big moment. Like everyone's just going to show up at the White House one day and surround the White House, and they're going to come out and admit 9/11 was orchestrated by elements within our own government or something like that, or the buildings were brought down in controlled demolitions, or that some person in the media is going to come out and expose this. And there's going to be hearings overnight. And that's not how things work in the real world. And then sometimes the victories that you have, you don't even know that you're having.
I mean I think I've done my share of stuff for here for AE911truth. But you know, how I woke up is because somebody put a video on some cartoon website that it was on one night, you know, completely looking at different things, looking for a completely different subject matter. And they put this in there, and my first thought was, well, this isn't funny, but it caught my attention. So like that person woke me up, but they have no clue probably that they're the person who woke me up. So you have no idea out there what your efforts are bringing forth when you do your actions. So like you could be responsible for something great and not even know. But you got to have faith in that idea and just keep on doing what you're doing, regardless of the response that you're getting, or regardless of any condemnation or anything like that.
And at the end of the day, at the end of your life, it's not going to matter what any of those people said. You just got to keep on pressing forward and believe in what you're doing. You know, we're born alone and we die alone in this world. And all that matters is what you think and what you think about your actions throughout your life. And victory can come in ways that you don't even expect. I've seen it so many times. I've seen things happen just out of nowhere, good news. I have this firm belief. I'm not getting too spiritual about it, but if you try to do your best in this world, I mean, you keep trying and keep struggling. You go through some trials or whatnot every once in a while, the wind blows in a certain direction. And you don't expect it, but magic happens, not in the literal sense, but something will just go your way or go the way of the movement and something good will happen.
We did this with C-Span. When I started that, I didn't think we were going to have Richard Gage on the program and have him be the number one interview in the entire Washington Journal history. It used to be a joke. Well, maybe they'll put Richard on, but then it ended up happening because it just kept on pulling a thread. And that's the way you got to look at it. Sometimes you see a thread coming out of a curtain, you just keep pulling on it and pulling on it and pulling on it and you might run unravel the entire curtain.
So you just got to have faith that what you're doing is the right thing. And regardless of what anyone says... It doesn't matter if they're debunkers or other truthers or just regular people out in the world. Regardless, you just got to have confidence in your own decisions and your own actions and keep moving forward. And that's what I want to try to portray in this book. So I hope people get that feeling from it.
I think that's a really important point that you've made. And it's one that, it's easy to forget about it. And I think I often forget about it. You know, you kind of have this idea that the breakthrough that we're looking for, or just sort of broad awareness, raising awareness in a broad sense, that it's easy to feel like you're not getting anywhere because you look around and the world looks kind of similar to what it did when you started, you haven't really changed anything. But the point you make is that you can have an effect without realizing it.
I mean, I've found that in my own path, I guess that I've taken where you'll find out that somebody read something that you wrote five years ago and they were affected by it. And you had no idea. And that person maybe then began their whole journey of becoming more aware. And you had no idea that you were having that effect. So I think you've really made an important point that we all need to think about because it's easy to get discouraged. You know, it's easy to kind of think, “Well who's listening to me?” But as you said, you never know who's listening.
You know what? When you listen to somebody from years ago, I call it time traveling. Of course, I don't mean in the literal sense, but there's been things. And of course I don't just research 9/11. I mean, personally, I'd get interested in a lot of stuff. And some of it I find I think is complete bunk and other things I think are interesting and probably true. But I'll listen to people who made recordings back in the seventies. And one of those old tape recorders with the spinning wheels, and then somebody got their hands on it and put it on YouTube or whatever source, and I'll listen to it. And it almost just feels like there's a connection through time.
You know, there was some movie that were years ago where a guy and a woman are exchanging love letters through a mailbox. They're from two different eras of history. And there's some magic that happens that allows them to do this because it's a movie. But you get that sense when you read from somebody who at that moment that you're listening to them were living that moment. I don't know how best to describe this. I used to say this when he used to substitute history classes. I used to love history, is that, like you got to get into your mind. People actually had to experience this. John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis was the guy with his finger on the button who could have caused the entire world to blow up. And like, he was actually just a human being was like putting this tremendous position of responsibility and in the middle of this crisis. And just try to identify that with that for a moment. What would you do? You know, you've got advisors telling you different things and you got to come to some kind of decision.
And when you're listening to somebody from long ago, they have no idea how things were going to play out. We have no idea here in 2021 how things are going to play out. We can try to influence them, but we don't know what the world's going to be like in 2026. We don't know if by then maybe there'll be a full acknowledgement that the towers were brought down in controlled demolitions. So somebody's looking back in the future hearing this will be like, well, of course it was; that's all part of history, but we don't know that at this moment. So I call it time-traveling, and that's why it's great to listen to your elders because there's different perspectives, different points of view.
I mean, it drives me nuts when I watch movies and they portray people from a hundred years ago sort of acting like the people of today do because mindsets were way different. And the way people spoke and interacted with each other was way different. I love it when they do get it accurate or get it pretty close to accurate, or put some research into it. But no, it's really important to listen to people from the past and listen to 9/11 Free Fall from 2013 or something like that, because you might pick up some information that's useful to you. And you can also bond with this person who has no idea who you are. But for you you're sharing that moment as you listen to them.
Absolutely. We're almost out of time here, but I did want to mention that you, you got a pretty amazing endorsement from somebody that people have probably heard of. Do you want to tell us what that was?
Yeah, Rosie O'Donnell gave a very glowing endorsement of the book. And I appreciate that. I sent an email to her through some channels here, thanking her for that. We've also gotten an endorsement from Graeme MacQueen, Kamal Obeid, Michele Little, who lost her brother on September 11th. And I appreciate that. And honestly, the most important thing for me in this as I want to inspire the Truth Movement. I want it to have something to look to and try to emulate as best as possible. You know, there are some elements in the story and the characters that you don't want to emulate. You certainly don't want to smoke or drink or anything like that. But here's my thing. Like I don't believe in being gratuitous, but I also believe in being real, if it's called for, if it's part of life, you go with it.
So look for the good parts and everybody, and try to mimic them if you can, and just believe in yourself. That's the most important thing in this world. I know that sounds cliche. And it's something that they'd beat into you in a very phony way when you're a kid, but what that really means is, as you get older people stop trying to inspire you as much, you're not cute anymore. And you kind of find that you're on your own more and more, but if you just have faith in your own actions throughout the rest of your life and move forward and deal with the setbacks and whatnot, then you're going to accomplish more in this world. And I think that we have to for 9/11 Truth. So I hope I sold the book okay enough. You can get it at the AE911Truth store. And I hope everybody enjoys it.
Well, thanks a lot, Andy, for sharing it with us. I think it's a fantastic effort on your part. I'm blown away, not only by the story, but just the way you were able to weave so many aspects of 9/11 into the story. It's not just kind of a one dimensional thing. You really bring in a lot of different elements to make this a really, quite a rich story with some terrific characters. Anyway, thanks a lot for letting me come on and interview you for this program.
This program is on every Thursday night on No Lies radio at ten o'clock Eastern, seven o'clock Pacific and every other Sunday night on BBS radio at eight o'clock Eastern, five o'clock Pacific. You can also keep track of the archives by going to 911freefall.com. This is Andy Steele saying great week, good luck.