Books

MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus


By Leroy Douresseaux
October 31, 2011 - 09:48

maus.jpg

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale is a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman.  It is a comics biography of Art’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.  Maus (the German word for “mouse”) alternates between Vladek’s life in Poland before and during the World War II and his later life in the Rego Park neighborhood of New York City.  A sort of funny animal comic, Maus depicts Jews as mice and Germans as cats.

The complete graphic novel was published in two volumes (Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History, 1986 and Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles Began, 1991).  In 1992, Maus won the Pulitzer Prize Special Award, and remains the only comic book to ever win a Pulitzer Prize.

MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus is a new book about Maus from Art Spiegelman with a host of editors, designers and digital media producers.  Spiegelman re-enters the book that he says changed his life.  In it, he talks about, probes, and tries to answer the questions that Maus most often evokes from readers.  Why the Holocaust?  Why mice?  Why comics?  MetaMaus is also a look into Spiegelman’s creative process and also the process of interviewing his late father for the stories that would become Maus.

MetaMaus also contains a bonus DVD insert (in the inside front cover) that has a digitized reference (or annotated) copy of The Complete Maus.  This digital copy of Maus is linked to a wealth of archived interviews with Spiegelman and his father, historical documents, and much material from Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches.

THE LOWDOWN:  Simply put, MetaMaus is a very nice looking hardcover companion volume to Maus the graphic novel.  It is generously illustrated with art from Maus and preliminary art for Maus; there are even reproductions of art that influenced Maus to one degree or another.  There is an index and a timeline.  There are photographs about the Holocaust and of Spiegelman’s family, and there are biographical sections about Spiegelman’s parents, Vladek and Anja.  Much of this book is also a huge interview of Spiegelman.  If you love Maus, this is the book for you; it’s practically a must-have.

The DVD is, for me, the most important part of this book package simply because it is a digital copy of the entire text of Maus – an interactive copy of the entire text.  You can read this edition of Maus page by page, and if you click on a particular panel, a little window containing some kind of preliminary art or study for that panel opens.  There is also audio commentary and sketch material for each page.  This is a new way to read Maus.  While MetaMaus the book is something good to have as a reference to a comic book that is so important, to comics, to literature, and to history, Maus the graphic novel is still the main thing. 

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE:  People who loved Maus will want MetaMaus and people who want to read Maus again or for the first time, would not go wrong getting their copy via MetaMaus.

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