I am taking a class on graphic novels in school and Maus, by Art Spiegelman is one of the required readings. And wow. Just wow.
I can see why this won a Pulitzer Prize. The art is fantastic. Spiegelman was able to portray so much emotion in the anthropomorphized characters so well. There are panels that take your breath away and leave you horrified all in one.
I can also see why it took almost a decade to complete.
I will admit it was not an easy read. I was often uncomfortable and would have to sit the book down for brief periods of time before beginning again. The story of Spiegelman’s father Vladek is filled with strife sprinkled with small victories. And Spiegelman doesn’t sugar coat anything: you see a child get his skull bashed in and people burning alive.
My favorite parts were the scenes that showed Spiegelman and his father and their relationship with each other. This book is as much about their relationship as it is about the Holocaust. Maybe even more so.
Vladek, as much of an anal-retentive asshole as he was in his elder years, had his moments. He was an interesting, very multi-faceted character and narrator that made you want to slap him one minute (don’t be racist, dude) and hug him the next. The different facets of his character, from the crotchety old fart, to the loving husband, to the man hellbent on surviving no matter the cost, all made his character so much more real, so much more human.
There is a picture of Vladek towards the end of the story that further drives the point home that this was a real human being with thoughts and feelings and hopes and fears. That is what this story is about. For even though the characters are animals, Maus is a very, very human story.