Showing the invisible: A review of Maus

Last week, we discussed in class the differences between text and images. As we were describing each of these two mediums, someone brought up this really interesting definition from one of the articles we read that stuck with me for the rest of that day. They quoted, “Images are powerful because they intervene against a culture of invisibility.” As I connect this concept with the graphic novel Maus written by Art Spiegelman, I can say without a doubt this book wouldn’t be the same and it wouldn’t have the same impact on people if it was just simply written. Although text forces us to use our imagination and, according to Kress, it also compels us “to fill the words with meaning”, when you read a graphic novel like Maus you can’t deny the power and emotion that permeates every single image. Images are powerful and they add a whole new meaning to a text. For me, it feels like they bring life to the story and the invisible becomes reality.

Another aspect that grabbed my attention in Maus is how Spiegelman depicted all these themes about humanity in such a honest, beautiful, and even funny way. There was no such a thing as perfect characters in his narrative. Everyone was dealing with some type of dysfunction and I believe this added much more value to the book. Through the pages there were moments filled with hatred, racism, violence, genocide, pain, despair, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, love, hope, resignation, forgiveness, faith, joy, and all of their complexities involved. The way Spiegelman presented his relationship with his father was so real and open. I really admire him for showing so much vulnerability.

Image

Image via: http://www.nycgraphicnovelists.com/2010/11/art-spiegelman-still-movin-with-comix.html

I’ve read books about the Holocaust, watched several movies, and I even visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. last year. All these experiences moved me tremendously, but I never thought a comic book would speak to me in such a purposeful way like Maus did. The impeccable narrative combined with the powerful images and Spiegelman’s transparency changed my view on comics and opened my eyes to this whole new world.

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2 thoughts on “Showing the invisible: A review of Maus

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post and can’t even describe how much I agree with what you wrote.
    We all have seen tons of World War II movies filled with myriad Hollywood stars. However, these movies can’t accomplish what Art Spiegelman achieved with his book “Maus”. He not only brought “life to the story” but gave the horrors of the Holocaust a new medium. For instance, there were no highly-paid actors involved who would chance out of their concentration camp uniforms once the movie director yells “cut” and sprint to their air-conditioned trailers.
    And like you wrote, it is more than just remarkable how “real and open” Art Spiegelman’s depiction of himself and the son-father-relationship is. By showing all these setbacks and flaws (smoking, going to a psychotherapist, etc.), he not only helped himself to cope with these situations but other survivors’ children as well.
    This book is way deeper than the surface reveals, and that is what makes “Maus” so special. It is not just another well-thought-out fictitious story. Every drawing represents Vladek Spiegelman’s memories and experiences. And this fact gives Spiegelman’s graphic novel even more power and makes it more valuable and worth reading (and to look at).

  2. I enjoy reading someone else’s opinion that relates with my own opinion. I think equally about Maus as you wrote about it. What I liked the most from your post is that you wrote the way how you comprehended this book and how it made you feel about reading it. I completely agreed with you when you said that images bring a new meaning to a text because this book, it wouldn’t be interesting and enjoyable without images included. Also, I liked the idea that you brought on your writing about the emotional and physical situations that characters experienced. Spiegelman, wrote directly his father’s story without changing it, and that’s the reason why this book is more powerful, and understandable. I personally think that the Maus is one of the best war-storytelling books because it is written with facts and includes images that make me go back and think of what I have experienced on the war between Kosovo and Serbia.

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