A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 300
Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
For the 300th installment of Cool Comic Book Moments, I’ve been persuaded by a reader suggestion (and by commenters the last time the topic came up) to finally feature probably the best comic that I have yet to post a moment from, Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
The moment here is something that I’ve always found profoundly fascinating about Maus, and it’s the aspect of the book that I think elevates it from simply a brilliantly told tale of one man (Spiegelman’s father) and all he had to do to survive the Holocaust. You see, in the first Book of Maus, Spiegelman tells his father’s story, with the Jews being depicted as mice, the Nazis as cats, the Poles as pigs and the Americans as dogs.
The SECOND book, however, was written after the first book was released to great fanfare. So for the second book, Spiegelman suddenly transitions to a much deeper story – one that you rarely see in ANY medium, but one that seems like comics tend to give you more frequently (which is to the credit of comic books as an art form). That story is the tale of what happens to a writer once his personal story suddenly becomes world famous, what happens to a man when his tribute to his father becomes a commercial success, what happens to a writer when his symbolism comes under fire – all of these feelings come out in the beginning (well, near the beginning, at least) of the second book of Maus, where Spiegelman pulls back the curtains a bit in this brilliant and dramatic sequence…
“The” moment is really right there in the first panel, when we see Spiegelman for the first time wearing a mask rather than just being drawn as an anthropomorphic mouse. As blog commenter Nick Evans noted awhile back, it’s a very comics-specific image, something that likely wouldn’t work in a different medium, and I think he’s correct.
The rest of the pages are really there just to back up the strength and the power of that initial page.
I initially avoided Maus because I felt it was a bit odd to call any Maus “cool,” but commenter Dan Lokhorst made a strong argument that there were plenty of narrative aspects of Maus unrelated to its depiction of the Holocaust that could be termed “cool,” and I think he was right. Reader Harry suggested I feature it for #300, and I agreed.
People often think of Maus as a compelling story of a man surviving the Holocaust, and if that’s all you got out of Maus, then you’re still getting a lot out of it. But there’s so much more to it, and I think this moment exemplifies the greater depths that Spiegelman gets out of the work.
And I think it is quite fitting to use the 300th Cool Comic Book Moment to examine the greater depths of one of the greatest comic book works of all-time.