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Maus

For this post I wanted to examine a collection that is perhaps the most likely to be misunderstood, overlooked, or dismissed as just “kid stuff”: the graphic novel.  The label encompasses a wide variety of material, but most simply, a graphic novel is “any extended form of comics, including non-fiction and short story collections.” (a definition borrowed from Grossman and Lacayo of TIME magazine).

maus-cover2While some graphic novels in the DCPL catalog do resemble the comics you read as a kid (such as the 7 volume Essential X-men series, each of which compiles 20-30 issues of the comic book), it would be a mistake to think that costumed superheroes are the extent of what graphic novels have to offer. In fact, there are graphic novels appropriate for all tastes and age categories. Adults interested in serious nonfiction should check out Maus, a Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust narrative wherein all the people are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals (for example, the Jews are mice, while the Germans are cats). For something the whole family can enjoy, try Bone, a tale of adventure with heavy doses of humor and fantasy which TIME magazine called “the best all-ages novel yet published in this medium“. And no description of the category would be complete without mentioning what many consider the best of the genre, the seminal Watchmen. This masterpiece was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label literature,” and was recently adapted into a major motion picture.watchmen-cover

Speaking of graphic novels which have been adapted into films, there are several others available in the DCPL catalog, notably Sin City and V For Vendetta (the latter is also available in graphic novel format).

So give graphic novels a try and check one out. Just look for GN on the spine label. You’ll never think of them as just “kid stuff” again.

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SpiegelmanjpgHaving been a fan for years of Art Spiegelman and his book Maus, I am ecstatic to tell you that he will be lecturing at SCAD’s (Savannah College of Art and Design) Atlanta campus this Tuesday, February 5th, at 7:30pm.  Yes, folks, that means tomorrow, also known as Super Tuesday!  So get your voting done early and head downtown for this once in a lifetime event.  The lecture is part of the SCAD-Atlanta Writer Series and is happening at 1600 Peachtree St. It’s free and open to the public and free on-site parking is available.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

From SCAD’s website: In 1992 Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for his masterful Holocaust narrative Maus, which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. The Los Angeles Times calls Spiegelman “…one of the New Yorker’s most sensational artists.” His comics are best known for their shifting graphic styles, formal complexity and controversial content. In this talk, Spiegelman will trace the history of cartoons from Hogarth to R. Crumb and will consider what he calls “forbidden images,” inspired by the commotion raised over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in early 2007. He believes that in our post-literate culture the importance of the comic is on the rise, as “comics echo the way our brain works.”

For more information on Spiegelman and his works, check out these links:

Maus

Creative Loafing interview with Spiegelman, published January 30, 2008.

An excellent guide to Maus from LaGuardia Community College / CUNY.  Contains historical information as well as study guides and sample pages from the book.

Maus Resources on the Web includes articles, interviews, and more links.

Harper’s Magazine link for Spiegelman’s June 2006 article about the Danish Muhammad drawings, entitled “Drawing Blood: Outrageous cartoons and the art of outrage”.  The article is not available here unless you subscribe to Harper’s, however.  I also tried to find the article in our GALILEO databases; interestingly enough, while many Harper’s articles are available in full-text, this particular article is only listed as a citation in all the databases I searched.  The Dunwoody Library does have a copy of the magazine in print, while the Decatur Library has back issues of Harper’s on microfilm.

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