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.
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.