Monday, March 16, 2009

Maus II

Matt Bochniak

“Maus II”, by Art Spiegelman, offers readers a unique way of telling the story of the holocaust. Spiegelman’s choose to tell his story in a graphic novel. Using this format, the readers get a visual story that focuses on images rather then just the words.

The Book begins with Artie deciding on drawing Jews as mice. Spiegelman humanizes and personalizes certain animals throughout “Maus II”. The Jews were mice, German’s were cats, Russians were pigs, and the Americans were dogs. By just looking at these animals, naturally, you know who didn’t get a long. This is a great visual device so readers already know something about a character before the character is formally introduced to us.

When chapter two begins, the book takes a brief detour from the story. Spiegelman brings us into his studio as he works on “Maus II”. On page 41, we see Spiegelman drawing, but he is a human wearing a mouse mask. It doesn’t stop with just Spegelman, every human in the beginning of chapter two is wearing a mask that follows the humanized animals. This is so unique, that we are briefly out of the story but all of the characters still have faces of their animals. In an added bit of humor, on page 43, the last cell on the bottom right has a picture of a cat in his doctor’s office. An arrow points to the picture saying, “Framed photo of pet cat, really!” (p 43). That is just too funny, making sure the viewer doesn’t think it’s a picture of a German. Earlier on that same page, Spegelman mentions that his Doctor’s office is overrun with stray cats and dogs. Once again, in a bit of humor, a box says “Can I mention this, or does it completely loose up my metaphor?”(p 43).

“Maus II” is a new approach to a much told story. Spiegelman successfully tells a painful and tragic story in a way that anyone could understand. By using a graphic novel of animals, the story isn’t as personal.

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