Juan Carlos Thomas
Risk Taking Researcher
Art Spiegelman, Maus, deals with the harrowing wartime experiences of his father, Vladek, a Polish Jew and survivor of Auschwitz, and Spiegelman's troubled relationship with him, it's biography, autobiography and historical memoir, told in the comics medium. Not wanting to trivialise Vladek's story by employing an overtly dramatic style, Spiegelman presents it in a straightforward cartoon way, with Jews represented as mice (the rodent metaphor taken straight from Hitler's own propaganda) and Nazis as cats. As with Hergé's ligne claire depictions of Tintin, the simple mouse masks make it easy for readers to empathise with the protagonists. Along with the eloquent visual storytelling, they make the book easily accessible to non-comics readers. The cartoon style and anthropomorphic characters allow the reader to approach otherwise horrific situations in a direct way, without the use of realistically explicit images and melodrama, while still retaining the power of the experience (Talbot).
§ 1982: Yellow Kid Award, Lucca, Italy, for Foreign Author
§ 1987: Inkpot Award
§ 1988: Adamson Award, Sweden, for Maus
§ 1988: Angoulême International Comics Festival, France, Prize for Best Comic Book, for Maus
§ 1988: Urhunden Prize, Sweden, Best Foreign Album, for Maus
§ 1990: Max & Moritz Prize, Erlangen, Germany, Special Prize, for Maus
§ 1992: Pulitzer Prize Letters award, for Maus
§ 1992: Eisner Award, Best Graphic Album (reprint), for Maus
§ 1992: Harvey Award, Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work, for Maus
§ 1993: Angoulême International Comics Festival, Prize for Best Comic Book, for Maus part 2
§ 1993: Sproing Award, Norway, Best Foreign Album, for Maus
§ 1993: Urhunden Prize, Best Foreign Album, for Maus part 2
§ 1999: Eisner Award, inducted into the Hall of Fame
§ 2011: Angoulême International Comics Festival, Grand Prix
§ 2012: Siegfried Unseld Preis
With any praise or success one must also endure critics. The first critic of Maus is Art Speigelman, himself. He was quoted saying that he “felt guilty” that his success was “built on so much murder”. This guilt and the anxiousness that he had become trapped in his Maus persona caused Spiegelman to abandon the field for 10 years, working instead on children’s books and covers for The New Yorker. The word “comic” comes from the Greek word: “κωμικός, kōmikos " that means “pertaining to comedy". Associating this word with the holocaust caused outrage by many. It was seen that Spiegelman wanted to make a serious, horrific event into a form of entertainment. For this reason some holocaust survivors were in objection to a comic book being made of their tragedy. Others were offended by the animal metaphors. They objected that these symbols were “doubly dehumanizing”. Jews were stripped of their human rights during the holocaust, now a “comic” was stripping them of their identity yet again? The dehumanization of Jews by Nazi’s made it easier for the S.S. to brutally murder, without regret, millions of jews. These atrocities were not done on animals or lifeless items, but on humans by humans, just like you and I. Some readers have criticized that the use of animals has the potential to reinforcing stereotypes. One critic, R.C.Harvey, was even quoted saying that Spiegelman's animal metaphor threatened "to erode [Maus's] moral underpinnings",andplayed "directly into [the Nazis'] racist vision"(Boyer).
Talbot, Bryan. "Book of a Lifetime: Maus by Art Spiegelman." Independent. The Independent, 29 Dec. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Group, Art Spiegelman. "Works and Awards." About Art Spiegelman - Maus. Blogger, 22 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Boyer, Joel Christopher. "Analysis of Art Speigleman's Memoir MAUS: Awards and Acclaims Maus Received." Analysis of Art Speigleman's Memoir MAUS: Awards and Acclaims Maus Received. Blogger, 08 July 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.