Born in Stockholm in 1948, Spiegelman rejected his parents’ aspirations for him to become a dentist, and began to study cartooning in high school and drawing professionally at age 16. He went on to study art and philosophy at Harpur College before joining the underground comics movement. As creative consultant for Topps Candy from 1965-1987, Spiegelman designed Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and other novelty items, and taught history and aesthetics of comics at the School for Visual Arts in New York from 1979-1986. In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Francoise Mouly. His work has since been published in many periodicals, including The New Yorker, where he was a staff artist and writer from 1993-2003. He has since published a children’s book entitled Open Me… I’m A Dog, as well as the illustration accompaniment to the 1928 book The Wild Party, by Joseph Moncure March. (Read more on Pantheon Graphic Novels).
Art Spiegelman – USA & Sweden
He said: “Maus grew out of a comic strip I did in 1971 for an underground comic book: a three-page strip that was based on stories of my father’s and mother’s that I recalled being told in childhood… In 1977 I decided to do [a] longer work, [and] I set up an arrangement to see my father more often and talk to him about his experiences… Although I set about… to do a history of sorts, I’m all too aware that ultimately what I’m creating is a realistic fiction.
The experiences my father actually went through [are not exactly the same as] what he’s able to remember and what he’s able to articulate of these experiences. Then there’s what I’m able to understand of what he articulated, and what I’m able to put down on paper. And then of course there’s what the reader can make of that… It’s important to me that Maus is done in comic strip form, because it’s what I’m most comfortable shaping and working with. Maus for me in part is a way of telling my parents’ life and therefore coming to terms with it… It’s not a matter of choice in the sense that I don’t feel I could deal with this material as prose, or as a series of paintings, or as a film, or as poetry… In looking at other art and literature that’s been shaped from the Holocaust–a historic term I find problematic–that material is often very high pitched… I feel a need for a more subdued approach, which would incorporate distancing devices like using these animal mask faces. Another aspect of the way I’ve chosen to use this material is that I’ve entered myself into the story. So the way the story got told and who the story was told to is as important [as] my father’s narrative. To me that’s at the heart of the work. –From Oral History, Journal. Spring 1987. (Read more on cartoonists on Witness & Legacy).
Andrew Arnold about the book ‘Breakdowns’ (exerpt): … Spiegelman’s slow, agonizing recovery from the day’s trauma, made more difficult by a deeply ingrained paranoia and pessimism, becomes the book’s emotional and narrative core. Created over the course of two years, he uses the strips to temper, if not actually resolve, his stress. While the early ones recount the agonizing moments of day — hearing the roar of the impact, retrieving his daughter from her nearby middle school, watching as the second tower collapses — the later strips are more abstract. Spiegelman laments what he sees as the co-opting of September 11 to justify further polarizing acts of war. “Why did those provincial American flags have to sprout out of the embers of Ground Zero? Why not a globe,” asks the author. Unlike much 9/11-related art, including many comix (see carets above for TIME.comix coverage), No Towers takes exceptional interest in the political consequences of a political act that is often dumbed down to a mere “attack on freedom.” It’s a strong tonic to the otherwise sentimental tributes. Working through his anger, Spiegelman comes up with searing images like the one where Bush and Cheney ride a giant eagle with a “Let’s Roll!” whoop, while slitting its throat with a box cutter … (read hereafter the rest of this long article in the Time of Sept. 3, 2004).
Listen to an interview on npr;
and read an interview on the Comics Journal.
some books: In the Shadow of No Towers, Maus I, Maus II, The Complete Maus. But also all 21 books available on Amazon.co.uk.
Ted Rall about the king of comix;
… and thousands of interesting links on Google and Altavista by putting Art Spiegelman’s name …
… see also the very controversial contest site about an ‘antisemit cartoon contest’, launched by two young Israelis, Eyal Zusman and Amitai Sandy, a graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, two jews wanting to show: look, we jewish are able to laugh about ourselves (after the Mohammed cartoon battle).