This is my second time through this book, and it’s still as powerful the second time around. The images are haunting and the story is compelling and horrifying and this book really is a masterpiece in the literary and art combination that is comics.
Maus is both the story of Vladek Spiegelman, the author’s father, as survived the Holocaust in Poland and the story of Art getting that story from Vladek while dealing with his aging father. It’s a story about survival and survivors guilt. It’s about the depths to which humans will sink, and the heights to which they can rise. I’ve read a lot of Holocaust stories, fiction and non-fiction, throughout my years and I think this may be one of the more powerful ones that I’ve read.
One of the reasons I think it’s so powerful is the way Spiegelman uses his art to create a metaphor. Jews become mice and Germans become cats, they’re both human and non-human at the same time. It’s a very effective way of both distancing the story from us while also drawing us closer to it.
There is also quite a bit of humor in the story. Vladek is not the easiest old man to be around, and the modern-day interjections between the horrors of the past serves to ease the tension a bit. I also really enjoyed the way that Spiegleman captures the cadences of his father’s English. Most of the panels about the past are told with Vladek’s voice, and it’s very easy to hear a strong Polish accent telling you the story.
If you haven’t read this comic you absolutely should.