104 McSweeney’s, Martin Bell
106 Louis Riel
106 Basement Jaxx, Texas
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109 Tiger Woods, Soul Calibur 2
110 15 Storeys High
11 1 Clowns in da Hood, Ab Fab
COMIC BOOK MASH RPIE‘CE THE COMPLETE MAUS Art Spiegelman
Maus is the only comic book to have won the Pulitzer Prize and is one of the 20th century‘s great books - in any medium. Penguin is publishing parts I and II of Art Spiegelman‘s work in a single volume. True, this is simply a repackaging of the previously available two-volume box set, but it provides a welcome opportunity to take another look at this seminal comic strip masterpiece.
Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale won public and critical acclaim when it was first published in 1986. Spiegelman’s basic concept of telling his father's story of surviving the Holocaust in comic strip form, portraying the Jews as mice and the Germans as cats, grabbed the attention of thousands of people not used to buying or reading comics and not certainly not accustomed to regarding them as a serious art form. Yet it was clear from the first few pages of Maus that the comic strip form wasn‘t being used as some sort of ‘cartoon-guide-to-the-Holocaust’ gimmick, but was integral to the work. Apart from one or two prejudiced commentators (I remember shouting at the broadcast as Radio 4's main arts critic proclaimed he had ‘doubts about the morality of dealing with a subject like the Holocaust in a comic book‘), Maus seemed to convince the general
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public that the comic strip can be a great and unique medium.
Perhaps the only comparable breakthrough comic in Britain had been When the Wind Blows, Raymond Briggs’ 1982 satire on the government’s plans for our survival of a holocaust. I remember reading the exuberant praise for Maus by Briggs and other cartoonists before I bought my copy. The book entirely lived up to their praise.
Everything about Maus works: Spiegelman‘s small black and white drawings - sketchy yet detailed, understated yet graphically strong - are full of humanity and entirely free of melodrama or sentimentality. His handling of the medium - the composition and layout of the frames, the flow of narrative - is masterful but never showy.
Spiegelman depicts both his father's story as it happened, and himself recording it from his father, decades later. In Maus II he shows himself suffering from guilt and depression following the success of Maus I. It might sound tricksy and post-modern but somehow everything remains totally clear and totally pertinent to the themes of the story.
Ultimately it’s Spiegelman's honesty which gives Maus its power, whether depicting his difficult father-son relationship, his father's flaws (from meanness to racism) or the details of Auschwitz.
If you haven’t read it, go and buy a copy. If you've already got it, read it again. (John Fardell)
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1 14 Italian food
1 16 Northern Lights
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THIS IS ONE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY'S GREAT BOOKS -
IN ANY MEDIUM
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