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Tag Archives: Art Spiegelman

Maus in the Indonesian Classroom by Philip Smith

As regular readers of Comics Forum are aware, the site recently featured a Themed Month which sought to examine comics as cultural production. The issue looked first at the work of comic book authors (Woo 2013) and ended with an autobiographical account of one scholar’s experiment as a comic book retailer (Miller 2013). In the following article I hope to continue to chart the life of a comic book by examining one particular comic after sales as it is read not by academics, but by a much larger demographic of comic book consumers: teenagers, specifically, Indonesian teenagers.

There has been a debate concerning the role of comics in language acquisition and literacy which can be traced back to the 1950s when Frederic Wertham, among others, argued that comics cause retardation of reading ability (Wertham, 1954). Many modern scholars argue that comics serve as a gateway to literacy (see, for example, the Canadian Council for Learning website, 2013).[1] This article will document my experience and observations as a teacher who uses Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the Indonesian classroom with advanced English-learners. I will describe how I prepared the students to read Maus, the concepts and history which I taught alongside the text, and what the students themselves brought to, and drew from the work.

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Posted by on 2014/02/18 in educators, Guest Writers

 

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The Death of the Cartoonist? Working on Living Creators by Barbara Postema

Comics studies is a young field in more than its academic standing. With the flourishing of comics production at the moment, it is also young in terms of its texts and its creators.

Many of the texts we work on are less than thirty years old, and in the case of my research they are often less than fifteen years old. With the obvious exceptions of certain established creators, for many of these texts the list of secondary works discussing them is quite short. There are countless comics to choose to write about, and it is easy to find comics that have never been discussed in an academic publication before at all. While comics studies has in many ways been reluctant to establish a canon of the comics we should all know, due to the choices scholars make in the texts they write about, if we were to gauge worthiness or canonicity by what is most often discussed, that canon is quite clear: a quick look at the comics and graphic novels most often discussed in journal articles and books shows the same names cropping up again and again–most notably Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Joe Sacco, and the British auteurs Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. In the case of newer artists, the only secondary literature available is most often interviews with the cartoonist, writer, or artist in venues like The Comics Journal. But even in that department, the lists of interviews will only be more impressive for established cartoonists.

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Posted by on 2014/01/24 in Guest Writers

 

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Vertigo’s Archival Impulse as Memorious Discourse by Christophe Dony

Vertigo, DC’s adult-oriented imprint, has been repeatedly praised for having ‘fully joined the fight for adult readers’ in the early 1990s (Weiner 2010: 10). It has been noted that this “fight” coincided with the imprint’s ‘adoption of the graphic novel format’ as well as ‘a new self-awareness and literary style’ which ‘brought the scope and structure of the Vertigo comics closer to the notion of literary text’ (Round 2010: 22). However, little attention has been devoted to the very cultural identity of the imprint, even if Vertigo has since its early days engaged in an intro- and retrospective discourse on the American comics form, its history, and the power relations inherent to its industry. This short essay intends to start filling that gap by investigating Vertigo’s archival impulse. It argues that in deploying various rewriting strategies which engage with specific past (comics) traditions, the label has activated a unique memorious discourse that provides a self-reflexive and critical commentary on the structuring forces of the American comics field, its politics of domination and exclusion, and hence its canons.

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Posted by on 2013/10/18 in Guest Writers

 

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Navigating the Post-9/11 Mental Space Architecture and Expressionism in In the Shadow of No Towers by Aletta Verwoerd

On September 11, 2001, Art Spiegelman, son of Auschwitz survivors and renowned author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus (1992), found himself on a “ringside seat” to the attacks on the WTC (Spiegelman, 2004: p. 2). This was it; the moment his parents had anticipated when they taught him “to always keep [his] bags packed” (Spiegelman, 2004 [1]). Personal life and world history collided once again on Ground Zero and, after years of writing and illustrating for The New Yorker – though never combining the two disciplines – the cartoonist returned to the medium that he considers to be ultimately his own: comix.[2]

Spiegelman’s second opus In the Shadow of No Towers (2004) contains ten large-scale cardboard pages, each with an eclectic collection of images and frames: comic figures from the dawn of the twentieth century feature prominently in the autobiographical story that is further built on references to popular culture, including the author’s familiar ‘disguise’ as a mouse. Produced in the two years right after the attacks, the shape of the towers is frequently mirrored in both single panels and in page structures. All together, the book provides a nearly surreal report of life in lower Manhattan; the neighbourhood in which the absence of the Twin Towers was ultimately present. Further, in order to do justice to “oversized skyscrapers and outsized events” (Spiegelman, 2004) the templates are extraordinary in size; each of them designed to precisely fill a full newsprint page, in colour.

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Posted by on 2012/12/18 in Guest Writers

 

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A fragmentary past: Karasik and Mazzucchelli’s City of Glass by Nicolas Labarre

This article examines the way a temporary inflexion towards a cinematic representation in City of Glass: the Graphic Novel – an adaptation which actively seeks to explore the specificities of the comics form – brings to the surface the fragmented and incomplete state of tradition in comics.

Among many other things, David Mazzucchelli and Paul Karasik’s adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass (City of Glass GN in the rest of this text) is a visual interpretation of the noir homage present in Auster’s book. City of Glass, the first novel of the New York Trilogy, initially relies on a loose pastiche of detective fiction and more specifically of the novels of Raymond Chandler, in which private eyes accept unclear missions for the sake of beautiful women. This archetypal scene is replayed both in the novel and in the graphic novel, when Quinn, the main protagonists, accepts to keep watch over a man named Stillman in part because of his attraction to Virginia’s Stillman, the man’s daughter-in-law.

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Posted by on 2012/12/14 in Guest Writers

 

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