Old Boy's Life comic with plane and WTC

Dominic Paul Moore spotted this comic from a 1981 issue of Boy's Life, depicting "a commercial plane circling the twin towers dangerously close." Click image to see the whole page.


  1. I second the comment, “So what?”

    Slow news day? Surely there must be something better to print.

  2. no…this is not news, so what….but it is interesting to find simple irony when not looking for it. take it for what it is.

  3. Honestly, just even bringing up Boy’s Life is kinda funny/interesting to me. I hadn’t thought about that magazine in decades. In fact, we once ordered plans from an ad in there to build a vacuum cleaner hovercraft. Unfortunately, the kind of vacuum it called for to cannibalize was a *really* old model that we couldn’t manage to locate. Especially since we didn’t have a car. Or the Internet.

  4. That’s a good question BASCULE@10. I think people might get “obsessed” with it for various reasons though. For example, they might be obsessed with conspiracy theories surrounding it. Or they might have post-traumatic stress disorder. Or maybe they lost someone in one of the attacks. Or perhaps they survived and are constantly reliving it (again, PTSD.) Or they’re always in fear of it happening again? Hmmm….

  5. Trent Hawkins, Steven Schnier, you’re both being boring. Anyone can say “So what?” to anything. It’s not like they need your help to do it.

    Bascule: go ahead. See what you come up with.

  6. #9 – David, what you posted here is interesting:

    “Honestly, just even bringing up Boy’s Life is kinda funny/interesting to me. I hadn’t thought about that magazine in decades. In fact, we once ordered plans from an ad in there to build a vacuum cleaner hovercraft. Unfortunately, the kind of vacuum it called for to cannibalize was a *really* old model that we couldn’t manage to locate. Especially since we didn’t have a car. Or the Internet.”

    I remember the frustration of trying to build the stuff they showed us in magazines. There must be a thousand examples of “living better thru science” that we were promised, but never delivered.

    Same source – Boy’s Life, but one has been done to death while the other one is funny/interesting.

    #12 – Theresa — they certainly don’t need my help, but as a reader I am entitled to provide feedback. And look – even constructive feedback.

  7. One possible response to the “so what?” question might be nostalgia, or pathos. These throwaway representations of the WTC take on a new life when viewed after 9-11. Before they were symbols, they were just buildings: these “before the flood” images bring this fact back home to us, and many (including me) find this moving. It’s not the WTC, but ourselves, we mourn for?

    This point has been made a million times before, though: there’s nothing earthshaking about this image, true, but it takes on added meaning when seen in the reflected light of all of the pre-9-11 images of the WTC. I look at them and get a slight shiver…. Thanks for adding to the storehouse of images, David!

  8. can no one see the irony and ridiculousness of the article? i believe that is what the intent in the first place…so chill out

  9. Add me to the list of those who tried in vain to build a working hovercraft out of the Boy’s Life ads. The vacuum it called for was an Electrolux- and my dad actually made a trip to the Electrolux repair guy a few towns over to pick up a donor. The thing still never worked.

  10. I never think about 9/11 (or at least rarely)……but I have to admit….when I see a pic like that or the Towers in the background of an old movie or TV show and I’m not expecting it…..I experience a very brief and mildly unpleasant “short circuit”.
    The grief goes on.
    Liked the post.

  11. I sent away for the home taxidermy kit. The safety knife was one of those dull scalpels they include in kiddy microscope kits. All but impossible to skin a squirrel with one of those…

    …of course, first you had to catch them.

  12. It’s interesting how we think of them as lying in the same plane, the way they were drawn here, and not rising from diagonally offset footprints. I guess it’s part of what makes drawing hard. We replace observation with a simplified idea.

  13. “Boys-Make money selling Grit! America’s Greatest Family Newspaper!”
    Sorry, Boy’s Life flashback.

  14. We should revive Grit as a blog.

    “Boys-Make money posting to Grit! America’s Greatest Family Blog!

    I’m kidding. Kinda.

  15. if nothing else, this reminded me of the nun in Airplane! reading a copy of “nun’s life”.

    so it was good for something. nothing “so what” about that…

  16. I couldn’t help but be drawn to the older boy’s mouth, which looks like the Joker’s makeup..

    Why so serious, Osama?

  17. Who are these losers that are saying “slow news day”? If you don’t like it, just move on. Or start your own blog full of only the most impressive posts.

  18. It wasn’t Boy’s Life, but it was some other magazine where they had plans and schematics for a simple calculator which used a rotary phone dial as an input. That’s cool even today. Anyway, all the parts had Radio Shack numbers next to them. When I got to Radio Shack and pointed to the list of parts I couldn’t locate on my own, I found that they had discontinued most of them.

    Of course, in retrospect, I realize that this was at the beginning of Radio Shack’s decline.

    Also, there wasn’t any Internet.

  19. @ #23 — i don’t even know where to begin with that. i can’t believe you’d suggest that the WTC buildings will be relegated to “trivia”.

    the two incidents can’t even be compared! to begin with, the B-52 wasn’t taken over by people intent on killing as many as possible, and the empire state building didn’t collapse.

  20. Seeing images like that always give me pause. The last time I was cleaning out my CDs and came across Squad Five-0’s “Bombs Over Broadway” (2000). It unsettled me.

  21. Not to digress overmuch, but I definitely built a hovercraft with a leafblower a few years ago. It was neat, but the extension cord and the lack of a propulsion system sorta limited its viability as a means of transportation…

    (So don’t hate. The hovercraft is totally possible.)

  22. WOW, I just enjoyed myself reading these comments. I guess given the gravity of the thing it would be received in such a way as this, but i do find it quite comical there is the slightest fuss. Can I get anyone that enjoys the irony of shit like this???

  23. ?This isn’t a “so what”, but I do get a sense of exploitation of 9/11 imagery from this for no apparent purpose. So seriously, why was this posted? Honestly, the whole “images of the twin towers with plane/fire/danger in art history” just makes me feel a bit sick, like it’s some sort of fun art project for people.

    It’s not “Interesting trivia”. People I knew were in that building. perhaps some people who lost friends that day can relegate it to trivia. Not me.

  24. I’m reminded of a segment from the NBC news magazine “Weekend,” with Lloyd Dobyns, and later, Linda Ellerbee. Around 1975-1976 it ran once a month on Saturdays at 11:30PM instead of “Saturday Night Live” which ran the other three times a month.

    The segment’s topic was about criticism from architects of the aesthetics of the then newly finished WTC, and as a joke featured animation of the two towers crumbling into the ground, eerily much like the real event 25 years later.

    I wonder if NBC still has a copy of that, and has judiciously kept it well-hidden in the tape library. (Or they didn’t keep archives that long–it wasn’t a major priority back then).

    It’d be interesting to see the reaction to that piece were it to be shown now, if it ever resurfaces.

  25. #34, you’ll notice i didn’t use the word “terrorists” — i just meant that the scale of the 9/11 attacks far outweigh both of your examples.

    i get your point — time erases all — but this affected not just the US. it was felt globally. it won’t be forgotten very quickly.

  26. I just see this post as something a friend would consider interesting, and show me. Boing Boing does jump into serendipity occasionally. Is there really an agenda to Boing Boing? Honestly, I’m asking. Also, I do feel bad some people were upset by this post. Understandable.

  27. Good question, Fred. I think there is no overall agenda to Boing Boing, but you’d have to ask the Boingers (and get them to agree!) to be sure.

    I think that there are much worse models for a blog of this type than “something a friend would consider interesting, and show me.” Most other models, in fact. (I don’t think you were being critical by saying that, I’m just agreeing with you.)

  28. Oh, man – I always really wanted so badly to order those hovercraft plans! My father always discouraged me though – he was positive it would never work as advertised (and was right).

    But I totally dreamed of hauling ass around the nieghborhood on that thing, two feet off the ground with my lightsaber, being the envy of ALL the kids.

    I totally failed to take into account practical things like electricity and, um, physics in general.

  29. I think that the “forgotten” aspect of that 1920 terrorist attack might be really down to two factors:

    1). They didn’t have a TV in every home replaying the event repeatedly.

    2). It was only two years after a conflict that killed 117,465 Americans, and wounded 205,690. The flu pandemic occurring at the end of WWI killed 500,000 to 675,000 Americans.

    I imagine the attack on Wall Street in 1920 was pretty much trivia from the get go, relatively speaking when compared to the horrors of 1914 – 1918.

  30. JJasper, in late autumn of 2001 I went to Martha’s Vineyard to help teach a week-long writers’ workshop. While I was there, I experienced a moment of cognitive dissonance when I saw flyers posted on the streets of Oak Bluffs that advertised photographic head shots for would-be models.

    Ads like that had been common in NYC prior to 9/11, but they disappeared during the period when everyone was posting “Have you seen…?” flyers showing pictures of their missing loved ones. I still remember the slight shock of realizing that there was still an everyday world in which an 8×11 flyer with a head shot on it was just an advertisement for photographic services.

  31. Terrifyingly there already exists a word for people obsessed with 9/11 (or at least the substratum obsessed with proving that the US government/George Bush is directly responsible for the events of that day).

    The “Truthers” are out there. Matt Taibbi memorably infiltrated some of their gatherings, and recounted what he saw there in his book, The Great Derangement.

  32. Steve @16, constructive good. Constructive fine with me.

  33. the parralex NY, NY represented in the illustration has to be the one in las vegas (viva) which of course didn’t exist in 1981 so this is in fact, foretelling the financing deals that took place to make that happen. i’m not feeling any connection to the big insurance job as the plane is in the sky somewhere over queens or fork lee or yonkers or bay ridge depending on which P.O.V. you decide to use. thanx David…it’s always fun to remember the early eighties. lately it feel like 1977.

  34. actually, upon further inspection, is that the singer building in the background? maybe the illustrator was eluding to the known dealings between the bin laden and singer families that took place in the summer of ’79 in some of the still unleased space in tower 2.

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