Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Behind the Scene in Making `Maus' Drawings and Sketches for Art Spiegelman's Groundbreaking Books Are on Display

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Behind the Scene in Making `Maus' Drawings and Sketches for Art Spiegelman's Groundbreaking Books Are on Display

Article excerpt

THE timing of Galerie St. Etienne's show, "Art Spiegelman: The Road to Maus," is uncanny. Recent events in Germany, including the reemergence of far-right nationalism and anti-immigrant violence, has focused attention back on the question: What did the Holocaust mean, and why hasn't the world learned from it?

Mr. Spiegelman, an avant-garde cartoonist, was recently tapped by editor Tina Brown to be a contributing artist and writer for The New Yorker magazine. His first contribution appeared in the Dec. 7 issue and was titled "A Jew in Rostock." Last April, he received an avalanche of publicity when his two-volume, book-length set of serious comic strips, "Maus I, A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History" and "Maus II, And Here My Troubles Began," won a special Pulitzer Prize.

Spiegelman's books were drawn from many hours of interviews with his father, Vladek, an Auschwitz survivor. Vladek remembered in precise detail the events, both commonplace and horrifying, surrounding his time in the death camps. Spiegelman made the Jewish characters in his strips into mice, and the Nazis became cats. But these characterizations are worlds away from Mickey Mouse or Felix the Cat.

The Galerie St. Etienne has assembled a significant number of Spiegelman's sketches, storyboards, and completed drawings. From them, his struggle with both the logistics and the emotional cost of the project can be traced.

With all the books and movies out on the Holocaust, Spiegelman's father was reluctant to see his son write yet another Holocaust remembrance. In an attempt to put the past behind him, Vladek burned most of his wife Anja's memorabilia after she committed suicide in 1968. But Art Spiegelman's "Maus" books go a step further than many Holocaust memoirs because they portray the difficulties of living with a Holocaust survivor. Spiegelman achieves this by writing himself (as a mouse-son-artist) into the stories, breaking into his mouse-father's narrative with descriptions of their present-day conversations.

One telling scene, sketched out in the St. Etienne exhibition, shows Vladek admonishing his grown son for not being able to fix things around the house. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.