Brilliant
Review for Maus: A Survivor's Tale 2-A

Graphic Novel / Trade by Pantheon, Sep 01 1992
     
 
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comicuniversity
October 13, 2012

Brilliant

My title says it all.

This book is briliant.

Of course, you say, any comic about the holocaust is going to be classified as powerful in some way. Well, first of all, we know that ain't true. There are holocaust books, comics, movies etc. etc. that stick on ice.

This book (and I call it a book) is brilliant.

I cried. I actually cried. Some of the imagery was so powerful that it moved me to tears. Now, I wasn;t a blubbering mess, but I was moved.

The story is a familiar one, but told so effectively.

The first thing to mention is that each nationality is represented by an animal. So, Jews are Mice (hence...Maus). Germans are Cats. Americans are dog. etc. etc.

In this way Art Spiegelman uses anthropomorphism to stunning effect to allow us to immerse ourselves in the story deeply enough without knowing how deeply we are invested. It even seems kind of silly at first. I can't even recall at what point I realized I had stopped seeing it as silly.

I won't waste time going over the same details that anyone who has seen Schindler's List or read a history book already knows.

But, Spiegelman uses a highly effective framing device that forces the readers to really sink into the story. He goes back and forth between War time and actually spending time with his father in present day...who is the survivor telling the tales chronicled in this tome. It makes the whole horror seem so much closer to home. Do you know what I mean? The people who suffered and died in the Holocaust weren't nameless, faceless people lost to the sands of time. They were somebodies mother. Somebodies father. Somebodies son and daughter.

Powerful.

The art serves the same purpose. It is stark leaving little to the imagination, but also not filling in the margins with too much overwhelming detail that it would threaten the integrity of the story. I mean, we all know that these people died in horrible ways and endured suffering that was just...well, indescribably monstrous. Spiegelman does a masterful job of showing this and making us feel the impact without making me want to toss my lunch.

Truly, this is a well crafted story that was, obviously, a labor of love for Spiegelman.

4 1/2 out of 5. Buy it. Buy it now.

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