Published: November 19th, 1996 (the complete version)
Written by: Art Spiegelman
Art by: Art Spiegelman
Pantheon, 295 Pages
Growing up a fan of primarily superhero and action comics, I missed out on a lot of the independent stuff that has more of a cartoonist’s style to it than what was the norm from publishers like Marvel and DC.
I’ve known about Maus for a really long time, though. It might not have been my cup of tea when it came out in a big, collected edition in the mid-’90s but I really wanted to give it a read, as I’ve only heard great things about it and its imagery has been in my subconscious for decades.
To start, I love Art Spiegelman’s style. I especially loved it in the ’80s when he co-created the Garbage Pail Kids, an awesome trading card set that made my mum go bonkers. But as great as that franchise was, it can’t compare to this, which is a much more serious and human body of work.
Maus is a masterpiece. I went into reading this with skepticism because I’ve heard that for decades and usually things that are over hyped tend to underwhelm. This was actually better than what I imagined it would be. And I guess that’s because this is a very dark, very real and very human story, even if it stars mice in the place of people.
The plot is about a Jewish family and it shows a big chunk of their family history, as the story starts at the beginning of the Nazi rise in Germany. It then goes through their imprisonment, the Holocaust and life after all that tragedy. By using anthropomorphic mice in the place of humans, it makes the heinousness of the Nazis crimes a bit more digestible. The terror is still very much real, however. This makes it a bit more accessible though, especially in regards to younger kids that might want to learn about who the Nazis were.
For being nearly 300 pages, this is a very quick read. But it’s also a pretty emotional one. This saga covers a lot of ground and there are a lot of details to absorb. But every single panel has a real purpose and frankly, this is a meticulously crafted story that doesn’t rely on filler to beef itself up.
I loved this and it is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. It’s perfect in its execution, it touches you and it sticks with you.
Pairs well with: other classic graphic novels and comics: American Splendor, Persepolis, Watchmen, the work of Robert Crumb, etc.