Sunday, August 12, 2007

Maus: A Survivor's Tale

There are a great many people out there who take a dim view of graphic novels or "comic books". They probably view them as silly escapist fantasies for loser children and obese nerds. Well these people can just fuck right off with their big fat stinking opinions. I challenge anyone to find a more moving or thought provoking piece of art about the Holocaust. There are probably hundreds but that's not the point. The point is with Maus, Art Spiegalman has created a truly original take on a very difficult subject.

First published in 1973, the book tells two stories. Cutting between present day New York and Poland 1945 Spiegalman recounts his father's capture and eventual imprisonment in Auschwitz by the Nazis and the author's own troubled relationship with his father. Spiegalman presents his characters as different types of animals according to nationality or race. Jews, for example, are depicted as mice, Germans as cats, Americans as dogs, Irish as zebras, Norwegians as terrapins and so on.

Not exactly 10 Things I Hate About You I know but the book is beautifully illustrated and in turn moving, horrifying, funny and inspiring. Spiegalman pulls no punches in depicting the Poles as a race capable of acts of great kindness and unspeakable cruelty and the Nazis as extreme dickheads. In 1992 Maus won the Pulitzer Prize and Spiegalman went on to create the Garbage Pail Kids. If that's not a sign of Genius then I don't know what is.

If you don't read this I will come to your house at night and wreck up the place.


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