I Wanna Be Literated #231

I Wanna Be Literated #231

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Wednesday, 28 October 2020
BOOKS

The Complete Maus
by Art Spiegelman

Maus is one of those comics that has to be reckoned with sooner or later if you’re a comics fan. I know I put it off longer than I should have, and I thank having this book on my shelf taunting me for years for finally motivating me to read it. This book is simply a marvel for what it does.
I pray that comics are getting the backlash they’ve deserved for years, and for which superhero movies are solely to blame. The sheer volume and marketing power behind them is incredible and should have led to some sort of boredom by the audience a decade ago. But no. We’re dumb and don’t notice anymore when our art is being dumbed down. Superhero comics are they true devil, slowly lowering our standards for what food movies and art should be. The nerds have won, and we all suffer for it. But, hopefully this mean we can start appreciating an artform for what it truly can do, which is tell a personal story that can connect with its audience at a deep level. That’s what Maus does, and so much more.

Maus is partly the story of Art Spiegelman’s father and how he survived the holocaust and partly how Spiegelman reckons with his relationship to his dad. The artwork is simple, yet raw, and through these dense pages Spiegelman walks us through the horrors his parents went through as Jews in Poland. Unlike reading a textbook full of statistics, here we see the gradual decline of their quality of life and how Spiegelman’s parents (and especially his dad) managed to get by on their resourcefulness and luck. And as readers, we can understand their suffering a lot more when we see it happen at such a personal level. Spiegelman also explores his frustration with his dad and how, although he survived the war, it also permanently changed his father. He was purely a practical man who did everything he could to prepare for the worst and that outlook stayed with him until the very end. This adds a whole new dimension to Maus and beautiful complexity to the story.

Maus is a perfect example of what comics and do and how they can still tell a human story. It’s truly a testament of the medium. A wonderful read and highly recommended.

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