Thursday, December 20, 2012

For Friday: Spiegelman's Maus II

Remember to read Maus II for Friday's class and post your response to Question #4 on the Comics Template (you can do 1-3 if you wish, though most of them will be covered in  your previous response).  Pay special attention to Speigelman's discussion of the Maus metaphor and his struggles with writing the second volume of the comic in general.  Why does he turn down offers to make Maus a film--or a vest?  Also, consider how Vladek's characterization changes in the second volume, and what use Spiegelman makes of his real-life wife, Francoise, in the comic (why is she a mouse and not a poodle--or a frog?).  :) 


  1. Something of interest to me was the choice Artie made to completely break the metaphor and show himself as human in a mouse mask. His father was dead at this point and so I'm sure he was taking it hard. I took it as his struggle with his fathers death on top of the overwhelming subject of his book. There is a pile of dead Mice, all very skinny and appear to have gone through the camps. he is surrounded by the sear magnitude of the tragedy. His father, and all other Jews, struggled so much and Artie can't identify with that. He might be thinking "without that struggle can I even call myself a Jew?"

  2. Maus II
    How was the Work Illustrated?
    Maus II is drawn in the same way as the first Maus. It is drawn in a cartoony fashion, but in a way that is very appropriate to the story. Holocaust books can be tough to get through sometimes, especially if they include the graphic and horrifying scenes of the concentration camps. So although Maus II is detailing the experiences of Artie's father at Auschwitz, it's much easier and pleasant to learn the facts of that dark time in history through the comic-style lens of this book. It is an effective way to learn the dark details of this part of history that can otherwise be difficult to hear, and it's done is a way so as to still convey the significance and human tragedy of the Holocaust.

    Maus as a Graphic Novel:
    The graphic novel in this style is the perfect format for Maus. The cartoon aspect of this book makes it easier to learn and hear the horrible details of the holocaust while still preserving the humanity of the characters. Holocaust books with real pictures can be difficult to read sometimes, and this same story would not have the same feel without the drawings.

    Maus II is also told by Artie and his father in a dialogue and flashback fashion. Artie, who is also the author and has written himself into the comic, goes to visit his father to hear his story of being a Jew in Poland during WWII. It's acknowledged in the comic that he's learning the story so he can write it into a comic. The story of WWII is narrated by his father, and we see the dialogue between Artie and his father in an almost 3rd person perspective, although Artie is also narrating as he often speaks directly to the reader. This is an interesting way to narrate the story. He informs the audience in Chapter two that his father past away in 1982 and that he is writing this section of the comic in 1987. He then continues to write his father's story, which is narrated by his father, by listening to the recorded conversations, and then by flashing back to the dialogue with his father.

    Specific Scene:
    Chapter two begins with Artie drawing himself at a desk with a mouse mask tied on while he writes his comic. Artie is almost breaking through the 4th wall (the wall we see him though), speaking directly to the reader as he tells us of the publication of Maus I and as he shows the audience in an exaggerated sense some of the offers for endorsements for his comic. This illustrates the interesting way in which the story is narrated. The following scenes we see that Artie is feeling down, and his character literally shrinks to a boy. Then after speaking to a friend/therapist, he feels better and grows across a few panels into an adult again. This illustrates the way he uses the cartoon style to emphasize emotion and action to the audience.

  3. Amber Huffman
    Maus II response
    The most significant image in Maus II is actually an image at the beginning of one of the chapters, (chapter two Auschwitz (time flies)). It is an image of mice being burned alive in the ovens, screaming out in pain. In it you see one mouse dead in the background and two still alive in agony, flames licking their bodies and bone seen under the charring skin. This image reminds us that though the nature of Maus’s animation is cartoony, this story is a story of real peoples suffering, and the attempted genocide of a race. No other medium that I am aware of has shown the faces of those being burned in the ovens and this medium allows for that.

  4. Better late than never... Hopefully.

    I think one of the most significant but subtle individual panels is the one at the bottom of page 239 of the hardback, where Art's father is in the car describing the aftermath of revolts, telling of how four young girls were hanged near his workshop. Even though it is the modern day panel showing a car driving down the road in a wooded area, the hanged girls are also shown in the panel. This is another surrealist layer that he is beginning to increasingly play with in Maus II. Not only does it serve as a bridging device back into the narrative of the camps, it also show how retelling these stories is making the horrors ever more present to the Art, his wife, and Vlad. All these characters are seeing and imaging these events, and I think transposing the past onto the present in this surreal manner nicely accomplishes that.