Art Spiegelman: The Barrier Breaker

Spiegelman 1Art Spiegelman was able to change the world of comics. He started cartooning in 1960 and imitated the style of his favourite comic books such as Mad Magazine. This is indicative of his interest in alternative comics. Being ambitious, he was earning money from his drawing by the time he reached high school and enrolled in to an art college. He never gave up on his individual works, so he sold his work on the street. Until he moved to San Fransisco to work for Underground Comix. During his experience there, Justin Green asked Spiegelman to do a strip of Funny Aminals. Spiegelman decided to create a story about the Holocaust using mice and cats naming it Maus and that was when that 11 awards winning comics was created.

His voice was found from the Maus strip. This helped him produce Prisoner on the Hell Planet in 1971, which is a story that dealt with his mother’s suicide. It was also included in the Maus graphic novel. However, Maus was not produced as a whole but appeared chapter by chapter in Raw starting from the second issue in 1980, except for the last chapter. It appeared in the final graphic novel only because Raw stopped publishing before the end of Maus. Though, when Steven Spielberg decided to make An American Tail, Spiegelman thought it was too close to his story and got Maus published before the movie came out with Pantheon Publishers, after a rave review from The New York Times. This story broke the barrier between the comic industry and the literary one when it won a Pulitzer. It was also able to help the Jewish community that lived the holocaust through their parents’ or grandparents’ memories.Spiegelman 2

Spiegelman’s influence is not limited to the comic industry or the jewish community. His work with The New Yorker were social and political commentaries and influencers for a generation. He also created stories like In the Shadow of No Towers and Drawing Blood: Outrageous Cartoons and the Art of Outrage as comments on world events. The former is a reflection on the events of 9/11 and the latter was a survey about the sometimes dire effect political cartooning has for its creators. So any comic that addresses personal issues, autobiographical or otherwise was somewhat inspired by him. Also, Spiegelman influenced a generation through teaching both in the San Francisco Academy of Art in 1975 and the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1978.

Have you read any of his work or was influenced by him? Shoot a comment or tweet me! I would love to talk more about Spiegelman!

Hafsa Alkhudairi doing her MA Contemporary Literature and Culture at Birkbeck College, University of London, living in London, UK. She is graduating hopefully in october and has her heart set on going into publishing until she decides whether there is a PHD in her future. Current Project; Figuring out who is the big bad female villain in Marvel and DC.

Hafsa Alkhudairi

Hafsa Alkhudairi doing her MA Contemporary Literature and Culture at Birkbeck College, University of London, living in London, UK. She is graduating hopefully in october and has her heart set on going into publishing until she decides whether there is a PHD in her future. Current Project; Figuring out who is the big bad female villain in Marvel and DC.

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