Pen, Ink, and Gas: The Use of Comics in MAUS
While Art sits at his drawing board, a pile of emaciated Jewish bodies lies below him, seemingly unnoticed while reporters and businessmen climb over them (II.41). These bodies represent the grave nature of Art’s subject matter, the millions of dead Jews demanding that their story be told accurately, that their murderers’ atrocity not be trivialized. And at first glance, as we see roughly drawn, animal versions of soldiers fighting in one of the most terrible wars in history, it may appear as though Art’s book epitomizes this trivialization. But as we delve deeper into his world, we soon discover the rich depth that his medium provides in its opportunity for vivid metaphor and enlightening perspective.
Maus chronicles not only the harrowing story of Vladek’s survival, but also the story of Artie’s coming to terms with his father’s experiences. These two worldsand the cultural contexts associated with themare constantly juxtaposed as the narrative seamlessly alternates between them, the characters and background instantly providing the context for any given panel. For example, inserted into the myriad of examples of how Vladek was a victim of anti-Semitic Nazi treatment is a scene in which we learn that he himself is just as...
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