Friday, October 03, 2008


Maus is a rather famous graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. It won a Pulitzer Prize "Special Award", and Alan Moore said of Spiegelman, "I have been convinced that Art Spiegelman is perhaps the single most important comic creator working within the field and in my opinion Maus represents his most accomplished work to date…"

It's biographical, and tells the tale of a graphic novelist son who is listening to his father tell his story of living through the Holocaust. The story is beautifully and wonderfully told, and I loved the juxtaposition the two stories. In one, the son, who does not have a good relationship with his father, pulls the story from his father, trying to force him into a linear narrative. The other is his father's story, a Polish Jew with an incredible tale. The son (Arty) struggles with the writing of the story, because it's not really the story he wants to tell. He wishes he had his mother's side, to "give the book some balance." Spiegelman does something very interesting with the art, by drawing the Jews as mice (hence the title), nazis as cats, Polish people as pigs, Americans as dogs and so on. I'm sure many a dissertation has already been written about the animalian depictions! Something I thought was very sophisticated was how sometimes the characters wear masks to blend in. Spiegelman's use of the mask is really quite amazing on so many levels - I think he exemplifies how thin are the barriers between us - how fluid identity and culture are. .Well, now I understand why everyone lists Maus as THE comic to read.

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