New Maus Fan

Never one to jump on a bandwagon until it has rolled by and disappeared over the horizon, i just this week read Art Spiegelman’s great masterwork, Maus and Maus II.

Published from 1986 (Maus) to 1991 (Maus II), these works won Spiegelman a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992. For those few of you who don’t know, Maus is a comic book about the Holocaust.

OK, i know that doesn’t sound good. But it’s wonderful. Here, Spiegelman is a cross between Hannah Arendt and R. Crumb, combining riveting, gut-churning horror and suspense with great cartoons (black and white), while telling the story of what happened to his Polish-born father during WW II.

The Jews are all drawn as mice, the Nazis as cats, the gentile Poles as pigs, the French as frogs. Mercifully, he intersperses his father’s you-are-there story with “present-day” updates showing how he went around tape-recording his very ill father in the latter’s old age, and we see how grumpy, cheap, and hard to get along with the old man was.

We also learn that shortly after her suicide in 1968, the father has destroyed his wife’s (Art Spiegelman’s mother, who also survived the Holocaust) wartime diaries — ¬†an act that Art Spiegelman considered a kind of “murder” and for which he never forgave his father (i think).

Anyway, it is all you ever need to read or see about the Holocaust, and both volumes are also beautifully produced. Go read them, please!