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Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you’re given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!
We continue with Day 29, which is a Comic That Changed the Way That You See the World
Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!
This is another tough one, since I think it is likely fair to say that ANY great work should change the way that you see the world in some small way but at the same time, I can’t recall many works significantly changing my view of the world. Hmmm… Let’s go with…
Art Spiegelman’s Maus. Not for the Holocaust aspect (although obviously that is very powerful), but for Spiegelman’s brilliant work examining the guilt and self-doubts of authorship.
In the first book of Maus, Spiegelman begins to tell his father’s story of what happened to he and Spiegelman’s mother during the Holocaust, with the Jews being depicted in the book as mice, the Nazis as cats, the Poles as pigs and the Americans as dogs. The first book ends as Spiegelman’s parents are captured and sent to Auschwitz. More specifically, the book ends with Spiegelman telling the story of how he discovered that his mother had written extensive journals about her time during the Holocaust before she killed herself when Spiegelman was a young man. His father, though, destroyed her journals after her suicide, even though he recalled that she specifically mentioned keeping the diaries to pass on to their son. The book ends with Spiegelman calling his father a murderer.
The second book 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. 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 attempt to understand his parents’ tragic past 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…
This remains one of the most powerful studies of the guilt and self-doubts associated with authorship that I have ever read and it has greatly influenced any thoughts I’ve had on the subject ever since. I often find myself comparing it to other situations in other walks of life. Deconstructing your own work midway through the work itself is fascinating.
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