Art Spiegelman's legendary creation showed the public how comics were a serious art (courtesy of Art Spiegelman and Pantheon Books). Art Spiegelman's acclaimed graphic novel Maus focuses on a son's quest to learn about his father's history as a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. Th. Maus is the signature work of Art Spiegelman, a pioneer of the underground comics movement of the s and s. The work is a memoir of Spiegelman's.
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The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History. University "'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Art Spiegelman's Maus". History and. Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor's Tale of another edition. Shelves: comic-book, holocaust, biography, military, horror, politics, religion. I rarely read graphic novels or comics, but found this a very interesting read. The author has found a very clever way to write a feature-length comic-book novel.
The form is the comic book, once dismissed as an entertainment for children and regarded as suited only for slapstick comedy, action-adventure, or graphic horror. And although Maus includes elements of humor and suspense, the horror it envisions is far worse than anything encountered in the pages of Stephen King: it is horror that happened; horror perpetrated by real people against millions of other real people; horror whose contemplation inevitably forces us to ask what human beings are capable of perpetrating—and surviving. Maus has recognized the true nature of that riddle by casting its protagonists as animals—mice, cats, pigs, and dogs. As Spiegelman has said in an interview in The New Comics, p. And although Vladek Spiegelman and his family initially seem even more human than the rest of us, as the story unfolds they become more and more like animals, driven into deeper and deeper hiding places, foraging for scarcer and scarcer scraps of sustenance, betraying all the ties that we associate with humanity. Many books and films about the Holocaust founder on its hugeness: those caught up in it blur into a faceless mass of victims and victimizers.
Publishers and commentators refused to deal with the book for fear of protests and boycotts.
Demonstrators protested Maus's publication and burned the book in front of Gazeta's offices. Bikont's response was to don a pig mask and wave to the protesters from the office windows. Based on Vladek's memory, Spiegelman portrayed one of the minor characters as a member of the Nazi-installed Jewish Police. An Israeli descendant objected and threatened to sue for libel.
Spiegelman redrew the character with a fedora in place of his original police hat, but appended a note to the volume voicing his objection to this "intrusion". Spiegelman, like many of his critics, worries that "[r]eality is too much for comics It examines the choices Spiegelman made in the retelling of his father's memories, and the artistic choices he had to make—for example, when his French wife converts to Judaism , Spiegelman's character frets over whether to depict her as a frog, a mouse, or another animal.
Spiegelman took advantage of the way Nazi propaganda films depicted Jews as vermin,  though he was first struck by the metaphor after attending a presentation where Ken Jacobs showed films of minstrel shows along with early American animated films, abundant with racial caricatures.
Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal Away with Jewish brutalization of the people! Down with Mickey Mouse! Wear the Swastika Cross! Spiegelman shows this Jewishness by having her tail hang out of her disguise. According to art historian Andrea Liss , this may paradoxically enable the reader to identify with the characters as human, preventing the reader from observing racial characteristics based on facial traits, while reminding readers that racist classification is ever present.
Spiegelman has stated that "these metaphors When asked what animal he would make Israeli Jews , Spiegelman suggests porcupines. In every respect other than their heads and tails, they act and speak as ordinary humans. This describes the relation of the children of survivors with the survivors themselves.
While these children have not had their parents' experiences, they grow up with their parents' memories—the memory of another's memory—until the stories become so powerful that for these children they become memories in their own right. The children's proximity creates a "deep personal connection" with the memory, though separated from it by "generational distance".
Hirsch sees Maus in part as an attempt to reconstruct her memory. Vladek keeps her memory alive with the pictures on his desk, "like a shrine", according to Mala. He suffers anguish over his dead brother, Richieu, who perished in the Holocaust, and whom he feels he can never live up to.
When she berates him, a victim of antisemitism, for his attitude, he replies, "It's not even to compare, the schwartsers and the Jews!
The kapos who run the camps are Poles, and Anja and Vladek are tricked by Polish smugglers into the hands of the Nazis. Anja and Vladek hear stories that Poles continue to drive off and even kill returning Jews after the war.
He also uses it to befriend a Frenchman, and continues to correspond with him in English after the war. His recounting of the Holocaust, first to American soldiers, then to his son, is never in his mother tongue,  and English becomes his daily language when he moves to America.
I was very religious, and it wasn't else to do". This unidiomatic expression was used as the subtitle of the second volume. Spiegelman's perceived audacity in using the Holocaust as his subject was compounded by his telling the story in comics. The prevailing view in the English-speaking world held comics as inherently trivial,  thus degrading Spiegelman's subject matter, especially as he used animal heads in place of recognizably human ones.
Art's "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" is also encompassed by the frame, and stands in visual and thematical contrast with the rest of the book as the characters are in human form  in a surreal , German Expressionist woodcut style inspired by Lynd Ward.
Most members of the WTF Club, even comics newcomers, had already read it, and they were all happy to read it again. Oh right, and the mice. It puts the reader face-to-face with some of the most horrific events of recent history and forces us to witness it through the eyes of someone who was there. Just as Vladek describes crawling over piles of dead bodies, Art draws them in stark simplicity, their faces drawn and hollow.
There are no fades, no cutaways, and no punches pulled. The only relief granted is the occasional shadow play or silhouette of something awful happening around a corner. In another book, the relentless horror would be unbearable. Had the characters been drawn with human faces, Maus might be completely unreadable. Jews are mice no matter what nation they hail from. This is a reference to Nazi propaganda that equated Jews with mice and vermin.
It also emphasizes their vulnerability to oppression. Germans are cats, who prey on mice. Americans are dogs, who are friendly and helpful and can drive away cats. This of course references the Americans who helped the Jews at the end of the war.
Different races of Americans are given different breeds of dogs. There are also actual dogs seen at several points, such as when Vladek's family is hiding in their coal cabinet bunker.
Poles are pigs. Speigelman is ambivalent to the Poles, many of whom oppressed the Jews, but some also helped those in need. Pigs were intended to be a neutral animal, one not associated with the mouse-cat-dog hierarchy.
Despite this, many Poles found the association highly offensive. The French are frogs, referencing the national stereotype.
Spiegelman is also ambivalent to the French. While they were enemies of the Nazis, he notes that France had its own history of antisemitism. Swedes are reindeer, referencing their alpine nation. Brits are fish, referencing the fact that they come from across the ocean.
Roma are gypsy moths for obvious reasons. Instances where this system becomes complicated are dealt with in a variety of ways: Art wonders how he'll portray his wife, a French woman who converted to Judaism. He suggests that he portray her as a French frog until her wedding, when she magically transforms into a beautiful mouse. She's less than enthusiastic, so she's portrayed from a mouse from the beginning. A Jew who married a German has hybrid mouse and cat children: mice with tabby stripes.
A man among Jews who claims to be German is seen as a cat to Vladek and a mouse to the Germans. An Israeli Jew is portrayed as a somewhat stuffy and well-fed mouse. His question to Art is how he would have portrayed an Israeli. Art quips, "I have no idea Averted with some unsympathetic individuals.
After they drop him off, she and Vladek argue about it and she accuses him of being no different than the Nazis. Art gets them to Agree to Disagree. Art is a little upset Vladek saw it, but Vladek, though upset by it, admits that he's glad that Art was able to get his feelings out.
Petting Zoo People : Aside from a re-published comic from real-life and a chapter from part two where everyone just wears animal masks, this is how the characters are represented.
Postmodernism : The story itself tells and deconstructs the story of how the story was made, including Spiegelman doubting his choices of how to depict the people as animal characters. Pro Bono Barter : Vladek is truly the master of this trope, to the point where he could be the poster boy.
It may also explain why he's so stingy compared to other people who went through the Holocaust: it's this skill that allowed him to survive. Punch-Clock Villain : Several of the guards at Auschwitz. A few of them reward Vladek for favors, but have no qualms about murdering the others. There's only one among them who actually seems troubled over what he's seen.
He's also the only one who's friendly and polite to prisoners. At the end he is a small crying child. A helpful talk with a therapist about coming to terms with his guilt gives him back his normal, adult size, but then listening to recordings of his father's speech causes him to instantly shrink back into a child. After the war is over, Vladek hears that antisemitic Poles are still killing those Jews who return to their homeland.
Vladek can only note the tragedy of surviving the Holocaust only to be killed immediately afterward. Anja's suicide many years after the Holocaust may also count, depending on what exactly triggered it. So is it Anja, Anna, or Anya? All three spellings are used at one point or another. Richieu's name in Polish was Rysio. Word of God says he had never seen the actual spelling until well after beginning work on Maus and was just guessing.
Stop Being Stereotypical : Art Spiegelman's character laments that his father has all of the hallmarks of a nasty, miserly old Jew and fits the stereotype very well. When challenged about it, his father says he's tight-fisted only because of the Holocaust, but Mala points out later that she and the other Holocaust survivors they know aren't like him.
Supporting Protagonist : Art himself may count, given that the book follows him but it is actually telling Vladek's story. Survivor Guilt : While trying to understand his father Vladek's experience in the concentration camps, Art asks his own shrink also a Holocaust survivor if he ever experienced this.
The psychiatrist replies that he never felt guilty, just sad. Thicker Than Water : Tragically subverted. One of Vladek's relatives, a Jewish ghetto policeman , is dragging away Vladek's father-in-law. Art asks why the relative couldn't help him as a family.
Vladek replies that at that point, survival superseded family ties. Thousand-Yard Stare : Vladek recounts one young guard in the Auschwitz work camp who was unusually friendly most guards wouldn't even be willing to talk to the prisoners , but was gone for a few days because he pulled a few shifts in the Birkenau extermination camp. When he returned, he looked pale and kept staring into the distance because of what he had seen, while no longer being friendly.
Too Much Alike : Art mentions this off-hand to his fiance, as he once had a girlfriend who was also Jewish and middle-class, but because they were so similar it was weird to get erotic with the girl. The Un-Favourite : It's implied that Vladek's first family, Anja and Richieu, will always be closer to his heart than his later son and second wife.
Art says that he had a sibling rivalry with his late brother, who died at a young age years ago. He worries that all of his faults are being compared to his parents' idealized memory of Richieu. The penultimate panel of the book has the tired and sick Vladek call Art "Richieu. However, we know that Anja suffered from mental problems and killed herself about twenty years later.