Maus

MetaMaus reveals Why Comics

MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman (click to buy at Barnes and Noble)

Art Spiegelman‘s Maus is a really important graphic novel. So much so that it seems kind of silly to feel the need to even point it out. In actuality, it’s a really important book that happens to be a graphic novel.

In case you’ve never gotten around to checking it out or actually don’t know, Maus is the story of Art’s strained relationship with his father, and the elder Spiegelman’s experiences in the Jewish Holocaust of World War II. The first of two graphic novels telling the entire story was released in 1986 and earned a metric ton of accolades. The second followed in 1991, which brought on another wave of critical praise and recognition, including a Pulitzer Prize Special Award. While the Pulitzer Prize has a category for editorial cartoons, the prestigious award for excellence in journalism and the arts had never recognized comic books and hasn’t since. It was one of the most significant steps forward for comics to start to be seen as a legitimate form of expression and art in America. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, it was also one of the most high profile examples that comics didn’t have to be about superheroes. Aside from all of that, it’s a really good read.

Now 25 years later, Spiegelman returns to his most well-known work for a companion book MetaMaus. Included is a new comic by Spiegelman, as well as tons of archival documents, early sketches, and a bonus DVD that includes recordings of his father, and much more.

In excerpts heard in the below trailer, Art Spiegelman talks about why he chose to use comics to tell this story and he talks about the maverick and underground nature comics held for a long time, and still do in some respect.

I really liked the satire magazines, the comic books that made fun of the culture around me. Those were the ones that really seemed to be talking about television, advertising, politics in a way that said primarily the grown-up world is lying to you. And this was the Rosetta Stone that would let you kind of break the code and see what was really going on in the world.

MetaMaus will be released on October 4.

 

My List of the 10 Favorite / Best / Most Significant Comics Works

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (the arrival of non-fiction graphic novels)

Yesterday morning, the Hooded Utilitarian posted my list along with 21 others who contributed to a giant survey of comic book creators, retailers, publishers, educators, commentators (like me) and other industry folk from all over the world to determine the 10 Best Comics. In total, 211 people responded.

I sent my list on June 15, in response to the question, “What are the ten comics works you consider your favorites, the best, or the most significant?” I started my email response to the Hooded Utilitarian with the following: “I want you to know, this is IMPOSSIBLE.”

And it is. But despite that…

My list:

Start clicking and see if something interests you.

There are plenty of comics that are just as good as the above that deserve to be listed, and even some that are better. But I had a few guidelines to help focus my list down to a manageable size.

First, I had to have actually read the material. Of the above, only Peanuts has material that I have never read. But I’ve read enough of it that what I haven’t read would have to be an absolute bomb for it to tarnish the goodwill. That means there was some material that I am fully expecting to love and that I love for its mere existence and concept that I had to leave out. I really wanted to include Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know on my list. It sits by my desk in my to-read pile from last year‘s Comic-Con.

Second, I leaned much heavier on the “most significant” portion of the question. As some have pointed out, the question asked by The Hooded Utilitarian is really three different questions which could result in three very different lists. Because what interests me is comics’ efforts to find new audiences, I interpreted “most significant” as the comics that have been most successful in winning over new readers. That was probably my biggest barometer. Each of the above have helped establish a genre or publishing strategy or level of skill that has expanded what comics can be and are today. In retrospect, I might’ve leaned a little too heavy on modern material but I think some of the most innovative and inclusive material is being made now (if you know where to find it).

OK, so let’s hear it. What did I miss?

(More random thoughts after the jump.)

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