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You are here: Arts » Literature » Comics are not just for losers and why did I ever think they were?

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Literature

Comics are not just for losers and why did I ever think they were?

Published 16th Oct 2011

I’d never read a comic or graphic novel before last week. I’d never had any interest in them whatsoever: they looked confusing to read and I felt that they were only for the chronically uncool. This is until I saw Maus by Art Spiegalman on a friend’s book shelf. Now, I know I am a bit late with Maus, seeing as it was first published in 1986 and then a later edition in 1991. It is the only comic to have ever won a Pulitzer Prize, yet I’d barely ever thought of reading it.

I picked Maus up to flick through and ended up riveted for the next hour. Maus details the story of Art Spiegalman’s father Vladek Spiegalman, a holocaust survivor, and spans his life before and after the war. I laughed, cried and could not put it down. The reason why Maus is so wonderful is that the story could not have been told any other way. A picture tells a thousand words and every image is beautifully drawn to give you a further insight into what it felt like to be a Jew in the Second World War. For example, the Jews are depicted as mice, and the Nazis are depicted as cats. As for the words themselves, they are anything but simplistic. Spiegalman’s use of language is wonderful; from the way in which the Jewish characters speak (in a typical ‘Jewish’ format, similar to the structure of Yiddish) to the sparse elegance of every perfectly chosen word, ‘My father bleeds history.’

Maus has proven that my view on comics was completely wrong. I have since read Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller and loved that too. Comics get a bad press as being ‘geeky’ and simplistic: they are anything but. So, why not try reading one? You never know, you might love it.


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