000000mausIn 1991 by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The book uses postmodern techniques—most strikingly in its depiction of races of humans as different kinds of animals, with Jews as mice, Germans as cats and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. Maus has been described as memoir, biography, history, fiction, autobiography, or a mix of genres. In 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

In the frame tale timeline in the narrative present, beginning in 1978 in the Rego Park section of New York City, Spiegelman talks with his father about his Holocaust experiences, gathering material for the Maus project he is preparing. In the narrative past, Spiegelman depicts these experiences, starting in the years leading up to World War II. Much of the story revolves around Spiegelman’s troubled relationship with his father, and the absence of his mother who committed suicide when he was 20. Her grief-stricken husband destroyed her written accounts of Auschwitz. The book uses a minimalist drawing style while displaying innovation in its page and panel layouts, pacing, and structure.

A three-page 1972 strip by Spiegelman, also called “Maus”, was the impetus for Spiegelman to interview his father about his life during World War II. The recorded interviews became the basis for the graphic novel, which Spiegelman began in 1978. Maus was serialized from 1980 until 1991 as an insert in Raw, an avant-garde comics and graphics magazine published by Spiegelman and his wife, Françoise Mouly. It was one of the first graphic novels to receive academic attention in the English-speaking world.


Arthur Spiegelman

art_spiegelmanwas born in Stockholm, Sweden, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in his early childhood. Spiegelman studied cartooning in high school and started drawing professionally at age sixteen. Despite his parents wanting him to become a dentist, Art Spiegelman majored in art and philosophy at Binghamton University’s Harpur College of Arts. After leaving college in 1968, he joined theunderground comix movement.

The following decade, Spiegelman became a regular contributor to various underground publications, including Real Pulp, Young Lust and Bizarre Sex. Under a variety of pseudonyms like Joe Cutrate, Skeeter Grant and Al Flooglebuckle he drew creations such as ‘Ace Hole, Midget Detective’, ‘Nervous Rex’, ‘Douglas Comics’ and ‘Cracking Jokes’. In 1975, he and Bill Griffith co-founded Arcade, an influential comix revue with artists like Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and Justin Green.

Besides his cartooning career, Art Spiegelman edited several comix magazines. In 1980, he started the magazine Raw with his wife Françoise Mouly. In the pages of Raw, Spiegelman helped reveal important American talents like Mark Beyer, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, J. Otto Seibold, Kaz and Jerry Moriarty, as well as artists from foreign shores such as Ever Meulen, Pascal Doury, Jacques Tardi andJoost Swarte, among others.

With the publication of the first rendition of ‘Maus’ in Funny Animals in 1972, Spiegelman’s career really took flight. ‘Maus’ was based on the experiences of his parents as concentration-camp survivors. He expanded this premise into a full-blown graphic novel, which he drew from 1980 to 1986, with the Jews presented as mice and the Germans as cats (the Katzies). The book ‘Maus: A Survivor’s Tale’, earned Spiegelman fame. He completed the tale in 1991 with ‘Maus II: From Mauschwitz to the Catskills’. Art Spiegelman received the Pullitzer Prize in 1992.

In the 1990s, besides his illustration work for books such as ‘The Wild Party’ and covers for The New Yorker, Spiegelman has used his editorial skills to put together the children’s comics anghology ‘Little Lit’ together with Françoise Mouly, and he also serves as an advisor on Mouly’s ‘TOON Books’ project. Apart from the contributing members from Raw, the ‘Little Lit’ series contains work by artists outside the comics field, such as William Joyce, Maurice Sendak, Ian Falconer, Marc Rosenthal, Claude Ponti, David Macaulay,Barbara McClintock and Harry Bliss.

In the wake of the disaster of 11 September 2001, which happened around the corner from where he lives (Greenstreet/Canalstreet), Spiegelman has made a Sunday page format story about the terrorist assault on the World Trade Center in New York, called ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’.

Art Spiegelman has been of great importance for the re-appraisal of the comics genre as an adult artform. He won the Grand Prix at the 2011 Angoulême International Comics Festival.