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MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus

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Visually and emotionally rich, MetaMaus is as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals. In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize-winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago. Does he probe the questions that Maus most Visually and emotionally rich, MetaMaus is as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals. In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize-winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago. Does he probe the questions that Maus most often evokes—Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics?—and gives us a new and essential work about the creative process. MetaMaus includes a bonus DVD-R that provides a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus linked to a deep archive of audio interviews with his survivor father, historical documents, and a wealth of Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches. Compelling and intimate, MetaMaus is poised to become a classic in its own right.


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Visually and emotionally rich, MetaMaus is as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals. In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize-winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago. Does he probe the questions that Maus most Visually and emotionally rich, MetaMaus is as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals. In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize-winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago. Does he probe the questions that Maus most often evokes—Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics?—and gives us a new and essential work about the creative process. MetaMaus includes a bonus DVD-R that provides a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus linked to a deep archive of audio interviews with his survivor father, historical documents, and a wealth of Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches. Compelling and intimate, MetaMaus is poised to become a classic in its own right.

30 review for MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Maus I : My Father Bleeds History (1986) and Maus II : And Here My Troubles Began (1991) took Art Spiegelman 13 years to create and he had thought during the time that he would have to get the damned thing self-published. Who would want to bother with yet another Holocaust survivor tale – haven’t we had a million of those - and this one as a graphic novel – yes, a comic book, that’s right – with this jarring characterisation of Jews as mice, for God’s sake, and Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs Maus I : My Father Bleeds History (1986) and Maus II : And Here My Troubles Began (1991) took Art Spiegelman 13 years to create and he had thought during the time that he would have to get the damned thing self-published. Who would want to bother with yet another Holocaust survivor tale – haven’t we had a million of those - and this one as a graphic novel – yes, a comic book, that’s right – with this jarring characterisation of Jews as mice, for God’s sake, and Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs – pigs, yet. What a nightmare. You can imagine what the publishers of the day thought. And yes, there is a nice two page spread in Metamaus of all the rejection letters he received. So anyway, he got the Pulitzer Prize for Maus in 1992. What we have in Metamaus is everything you wanted to know – and quite likely a whole lot more – about this great work. Most of this book is a long interview with Art, which ranges from the personal to the technical and back again. Art has a steady stream of great quotes. A couple of favourites: My father could only remember/understand a part of what he lived through. He could only tell a part of that. I, in turn, could only understand a part of what he was able to tell, and could only communicate a part of that. What remains are ghosts of ghosts. I saw a documentary about skinheads in Germany and one of them had a Maus bookstore poster in his bedroom – it was the only swastika he could get, poor fella. Interviewer : When did your father die? Art : Well, I’ll get back to you on that. Talking about his diffidence about being Jewish - When I was a kid I wasn’t sure being Jewish was such a great idea. I heard they killed people for that. And one from Francoise Mouly, his wife : Next to making Maus, your greatest achievement may have been not turning Maus into a movie. The long interview veers off into pages of artist technicalities, questions like “How did you decide to mess with the griddedness of the page and tilt certain panels out of the tiers?” – only comix geeks will need to read Art’s response. And there are pages of that stuff. But wait, there’s more. Lots more. There’s a cd rom. Well, this whole book is like the EXTRAS section of a movie dvd, and the cd rom is the EXTRAS of the EXTRAS, but it’s like the house in House of Leaves, the cd rom is bigger than the book, way bigger. You get the complete Maus, and you get for each page original sketches plus audio of Art and Art’s dad Vladek whose story this is. You get articles, you get more interviews, entire achives, you get a 45 minute home movie of Art visiting Auschwitz…. There’s a ton of stuff here. One stop shop for Maus fans. This got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if there were metaversions of all your favourite books? Metalolita! Metamezzanine! (Yes!) Metalastexittobrooklyn! Come on, do it! I'm classifying this as "read" but I'll be coming back to it for years, it's huge.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Vol 2.... Pulitzer prize winning book. Art Spieglman takes us deep inside in concentration camps....and really shows us how life was day to day. This book is so hard to put down once you begin... It's so frickin sad --- ( we take the in horrors on probably the deepest of deepest levels, from a book about the Holocaust) The graphic depictions are the most brilliant creation of all ... everything about these illustrations works ---( their artistic design and purpose are flawless). Vol 2.... Pulitzer prize winning book. Art Spieglman takes us deep inside in concentration camps....and really shows us how life was day to day. This book is so hard to put down once you begin... It's so frickin sad --- ( we take the in horrors on probably the deepest of deepest levels, from a book about the Holocaust) The graphic depictions are the most brilliant creation of all ... everything about these illustrations works ---( their artistic design and purpose are flawless).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    “The advantage to using the stuff of real life is that one really is left with people who are far more interesting than what one could ever make up.” OK, when I first started reading about this book and people were saying that this book was I have to admit I was sceptical. Graphic Novel Fun Fact: Maus was the first graphic novel I ever read and anyone knows me and my reading tastes will know that I will defend the graphic novel to the death. So, needless to say, it made an impression on me. Th “The advantage to using the stuff of real life is that one really is left with people who are far more interesting than what one could ever make up.” OK, when I first started reading about this book and people were saying that this book was I have to admit I was sceptical. Graphic Novel Fun Fact: Maus was the first graphic novel I ever read and anyone knows me and my reading tastes will know that I will defend the graphic novel to the death. So, needless to say, it made an impression on me. The book is split up into the three questions that Mr Spiegelman has been asked throughout his life. Why the holocaust? Why mice? Why comic books? Spiegelman has such an easy way of combining hilarious anecdotes with fascinating historical background to provide an interview that is always compelling . From stories of his visit to Auschwitz, to how a Neo-Nazi ended up with a poster of Maus on his bedroom wall and how the idea of assigning each nationality with an animal came to him, Spiegelman, like his character in Maus, talks candidly about how he came to create one of the most memorable graphic novels ever written… or, um, drawn. I love how Spiegelman is never afraid to tell it how it is (a particular interesting part was the discussion about the pitfalls of creating a book/film about the Holocaust and how it can so often “risk the melodramatic trivialization of their suffering” or, as he puts it, “Holokitsch”) and he doesn’t worry about how his image will come across. As in Maus, he openly discusses the often difficult relationship he had with his father but how “it never occurred to [him] to try and create a heroic figure” in either his father or himself, which could have easily happened with a story like Maus. I think this honesty makes the original story so much more effective because it’s real. Every page is a visual treat. It sounds like a cliché… but I don’t care. It truly was. All through the book are examples of Speigelman’s original Maus sketches, photographs, unseen drawings, other artists illustrations and snippets of books, pamphlets and leaflets that he used for research. The book also comes with a disc of a digitalised version of the novel, complete with hyper-links, audio and the sketches of his original panel ideas. I spent a good few hours clicking through it and I know I didn’t even scratch the surface of what is included. This book is an absolute must for fans of Maus, fans of history and fans of graphic novels. I truly couldn’t recommend this more. The only slightly negative thing I had to say about it is that MetaMaus is best read with a copy of Maus in the other hand. But that isn’t a negative thing at all because I loved the opportunity to re-read it. But it did lead to the dilemma of which one to put down when I wanted a sip of my tea… because, honestly, I couldn’t decide between the two. I didn’t think I could enjoy Maus more than I did… but it seems MetaMaus proved me wrong. (Note: This is one of those books that to truly grasp it properly, I will have to do numerous re-reads. But I’m looking forward to every one of them.) An advanced copy of this book was provided for review by Viking.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    After re/reading MAUS v1 and 2, I followed up with this fascinating deep dive, METAMAUS (2011). It includes is a running dialogue with Spiegelman and English professor Hillary Chute. The volume is so full of archival materials, interviews with Art's family (i particularly enjoyed the interviews with Françoise, his wife, who plays a prominent role in MAUS) the historical context, comic history and the use of graphic medium to tell this story. He devotes a whole chapter discussing "WHY MICE?" (Hint After re/reading MAUS v1 and 2, I followed up with this fascinating deep dive, METAMAUS (2011). It includes is a running dialogue with Spiegelman and English professor Hillary Chute. The volume is so full of archival materials, interviews with Art's family (i particularly enjoyed the interviews with Françoise, his wife, who plays a prominent role in MAUS) the historical context, comic history and the use of graphic medium to tell this story. He devotes a whole chapter discussing "WHY MICE?" (Hint: there's centuries of horrifying depictions of Jews as vermin and pests, and this was a deliberate choice to embody and 'humanize' that mouse by Spiegelman for the graphic narrative.) The book also includes some transcripts of taped interviews with Vladek, his father and second subject of the book, as well as many photographs, artifacts, and cutting room floor snippets and drawings. It's a fascinating companion volume after reading the graphic memoirs, and graphic enthusiasts will really enjoy the context that Spiegelman shares about the medium.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joant

    I have a (new?) intense admiration for those among us who study and know a thing deeply. Perhaps because librarianship tends to reward broad knowledge, rather than deep, or perhaps because I am at heart lazy, I don't think I know any one thing deeply. This book presents deep understanding of the creation of Maus, which I read before Goodreads could record my reviews. I recognized Maus as important, but my appreciation for it grew as I came to understand the graphic novel form (for which I owe so I have a (new?) intense admiration for those among us who study and know a thing deeply. Perhaps because librarianship tends to reward broad knowledge, rather than deep, or perhaps because I am at heart lazy, I don't think I know any one thing deeply. This book presents deep understanding of the creation of Maus, which I read before Goodreads could record my reviews. I recognized Maus as important, but my appreciation for it grew as I came to understand the graphic novel form (for which I owe so much to Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art). MetaMaus gave me the opportunity to see a study of Maus on that scholarly level I admire. I really enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the decisions made in creating Maus, and feel I have a firmer grasp on the graphic novel format.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sesana

    MetaMaus is based off a series of interviews Hillary Chute conducted with Art Spiegelman over the course of several years. The book is set up in a Q&A format that mirrors the process Spiegelman used to interview his own father for the information in Maus. Intentionally, I'm sure. It's meant to be Spiegelman's definitive word on the intentions and creation of Maus. The book is divided into three large sections, reflecting what Spiegelman says are the three questions that he's asked most often abou MetaMaus is based off a series of interviews Hillary Chute conducted with Art Spiegelman over the course of several years. The book is set up in a Q&A format that mirrors the process Spiegelman used to interview his own father for the information in Maus. Intentionally, I'm sure. It's meant to be Spiegelman's definitive word on the intentions and creation of Maus. The book is divided into three large sections, reflecting what Spiegelman says are the three questions that he's asked most often about Maus. Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics? That could very easily be paraphrased as content, art, and structure, since that's what the sections end up being. Really, this is for people who are interested in researching Maus, or simply want a very in-depth and thoughtful look at how a graphic novel is created. A book like this, a 300 page Q&A that can get pretty technical, could easily get boring, but Spiegelman is a good interview subject, and Chute asks very good questions. I found myself far more interested than I had expected I would be. There's also short interviews with Spiegelman's wife and two children. There are a lot of illustrations in here, naturally, and a broad range of them. There are finished panels, discarded panels, sketches, concepts, unrelated work, and the original three page version of Maus, all by Spiegelman. There's also a huge amount of photographs, diagrams, and other comic illustrations that influenced the creation of Maus. It makes for a very visually appealing book. Unless you have Maus memorized, it would be very helpful to have it open in front of you as you read. Both Spiegelman and Chute make frequent reference to pages in the finished book, and it helps to see exactly what they're talking about. That's probably why the book also includes a CD-ROM with the full version of Maus. And a whole lot of other content, too. You're certainly getting your money's worth here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eve Kay

    Spiegelman just earned an extra star as I was waiting for my tablet to start and GR to load. I can't really tell you why but I guess it's important to point out straight off that there was one star lacking on my way to my review. Nothing to do with Spiegelman himself though. Or Vladek whom I love for some g*d damn reason. I guess I have a soft gooey spot for the ones who're just such a*holes. And have survived the holocaust. Silly me, eh? Spiegelman had done a whole load of research for the Mice ( Spiegelman just earned an extra star as I was waiting for my tablet to start and GR to load. I can't really tell you why but I guess it's important to point out straight off that there was one star lacking on my way to my review. Nothing to do with Spiegelman himself though. Or Vladek whom I love for some g*d damn reason. I guess I have a soft gooey spot for the ones who're just such a*holes. And have survived the holocaust. Silly me, eh? Spiegelman had done a whole load of research for the Mice (my nickname for Maus I & II). On top of the trips abroad and researching the holocaust, there are the never-ending dictations from his father, Vladek, AND his studies of comics and all the thoughts, effort, focus he put into his work. And as a reward he got protests againts his work and he got dropped out of things and kind of a mark on his forehead that made some people/groups cross the street when they saw him. Metaphorically. Reading the Mice I kinda had a feeling of all of the above: Spiegelman CLEARLY put a lot of work into it and it's OBVIOUSLY a touchy subject so people are gonna go crazy. MetaMaus confirmed my suspicions. In GREAT vast amounts of detail! And that's my problem right there. Wholy crap the amount of detail in this book. For example, instead of answering a question "When I heard about that I felt such and such." Spiegelman answered "I was at aiport X about to board flight Y to get to Z when such and such called, he used to be involved in ABC, and he asked have I heard and I was like no..." None of it obviously having to do with anything. So I guess I could say this wasn't really put together with editing in mind but I'm not gonna, I'm just gonna say: Thank you Spiegelman for your work.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This was an excellent companion piece to Maus. Most of the book consisted of a series of interviews of Art Spiegelman. In them he talks about the creative process of bringing Maus to life. He describes the struggles of trying to convert his father's story into a comic book that people would take seriously. He also talks about the many influences of books and comics on the shaping of Maus. Along with the interviews, the pages are full of his sketchbook pages, concept drawings, and rough drafts of This was an excellent companion piece to Maus. Most of the book consisted of a series of interviews of Art Spiegelman. In them he talks about the creative process of bringing Maus to life. He describes the struggles of trying to convert his father's story into a comic book that people would take seriously. He also talks about the many influences of books and comics on the shaping of Maus. Along with the interviews, the pages are full of his sketchbook pages, concept drawings, and rough drafts of Muas. There are also brief interviews with Spiegelman's wife and children. The last 40 or so pages of the book is a transcript of the interviews Art conducted with his father Vladek, which became the story and dialogue for Maus. The book also comes with a DVD containing an entire digital copy of Maus along with pictures, sketches, and audio interviews. This is a fitting tribute to Maus and will be enjoyed by anyone who loves the books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    I was glad to take my time with this one (I needed 2 library renewals), and I was glad I had recently re-read Maus but wished I had a copy of Maus actually with me at the same time to occasionally flip back to specific pages referenced. (I work at a library, I could have gotten one but I was lazy! Deal with it) Really compelling and interesting to learn more both about Spiegelman's family history as well as his artistic process and the kind of response to Maus generally. I didn't listen to the in I was glad to take my time with this one (I needed 2 library renewals), and I was glad I had recently re-read Maus but wished I had a copy of Maus actually with me at the same time to occasionally flip back to specific pages referenced. (I work at a library, I could have gotten one but I was lazy! Deal with it) Really compelling and interesting to learn more both about Spiegelman's family history as well as his artistic process and the kind of response to Maus generally. I didn't listen to the included audio CD of the interviews with his father but wow what a valuable resource to have shared with the world at large.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    I was first introduced to the magnificent Maus books when I was doing my student teaching at Shorewood High School in 1994-1995. The faculty had selected it to use as a text in an English course there. I was fascinated by the story and the painstaking attention to detail that Art Spiegelman had infused in his masterpiece. It was such a strange text that included the meta-narrative of Spiegelman's relationship with his mother and father, an interlude, "Prisoner of Hell Planet" that noted and inve I was first introduced to the magnificent Maus books when I was doing my student teaching at Shorewood High School in 1994-1995. The faculty had selected it to use as a text in an English course there. I was fascinated by the story and the painstaking attention to detail that Art Spiegelman had infused in his masterpiece. It was such a strange text that included the meta-narrative of Spiegelman's relationship with his mother and father, an interlude, "Prisoner of Hell Planet" that noted and investigated the effect of his mother's suicide on the author, as well as self-denigrating insights about himself. It is a powerful book and I followed Spiegelman's career since discovering him as he became a presence at The New Yorker. So when I saw that MetaMaus (2011) had been published I knew that I would need to read it. It is a fascinating look at the production of the book, its reception, his family, and Spiegelman as the author/artist. It is a comprehensive look at the writing of a classic. The book itself is an artifact with high quality production design and dozens of high quality drawings, pictures, print reproductions, letters, and other various documents illustrating points that Spielgeman relates to his interviewer Hillary Chute, a professor in the English Department at the University of Chicago. There is an additional hyperlinked DVD with The Complete Maus and an in-depth archive of audio interviews with Spiegelman's father, photos, notebooks, drawings, essays, and other material. I found this useful while reading the book I could search out essays that Spiegelman referred to in his interview, like Larwence Whelscher's essay "Art's Father, Vladek's Son" that was originally published in Rolling Stone and Spiegelman's essay "Looney Tunes, Zionism, and the Jewish Question" from The Village Voice. This is a fascinating and informative companion to Spielgelman's classic Maus.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aitziber

    (Note: this review covers only the contents of the book. I have yet to go through the companion DVD.) There's a page in The Complete Maus, where Art is at his drawing table, and journalists are all around him, looking for a quick soundbite. Three of the questions he's asked are, "Why [did you make a comic about] the Holocaust?" "Why [did you draw Jewish people as] mice?" and "Why [did you tell your father's story through] comics?" MetaMaus seeks to answer all three questions, and offers an avalan (Note: this review covers only the contents of the book. I have yet to go through the companion DVD.) There's a page in The Complete Maus, where Art is at his drawing table, and journalists are all around him, looking for a quick soundbite. Three of the questions he's asked are, "Why [did you make a comic about] the Holocaust?" "Why [did you draw Jewish people as] mice?" and "Why [did you tell your father's story through] comics?" MetaMaus seeks to answer all three questions, and offers an avalanche of additional primary sources, besides. For a reader concerned with form and style, MetaMaus is a rare treat. Spiegelman's interviews with Hillary Chute pull open the curtain to reveal the nuts and bolts underneath. The interviews don't just give a succinct response to the above questions, but really dig into the process of making Maus. The graphic novel wasn't born fully formed, but it began gestating as early as during Spiegelman's childhood, as he slowly came to understand the enormity of what his parents had gone through. Chute and Spìegelman go over the long interviews with Vladek Spiegelman. As humans do, Vladek had told his story to other people through the years, so that when he was interviewed by his son, the story had been told and retold the way anecdotes do. It was then up to Art Spiegelman to tease out every detail that got lost in the retellings. One of the major ideas that MetaMaus seeks to instill in the reader is that Maus was a comic (itself a stylized form with rules about speech bubbles, captions, panels, rows, pages) that was written and drawn to the best of Art Spiegelman's ability, about what he had able to process and depict about the elder Spiegelman's retelling of his life. This latter narrative was itself told to the best of Vladek Spiegelman's ability, considering that English was his second language, that the memories were as old as forty or fifty years, and that Vladek was himself a human limited by his own perception of events. This is not to say Maus is fiction - it's not; but rather, it's a reflection on the limits of memory and a person's ability to depict someone else's memories. Forty to fifty years later, do we remember the specific wording of something that was told to us? Something we said ourselves? Do we remember a face seen in passing, a setting, the way a city looked? And do we remember all of these consistently through the six years that World War II lasted? And the years before the war, as well as the years after? Do you remember all of this if for large periods of it, you were starving, sick and stressed beyond what most people can endure (and most people did not, in fact, endure)? While I wouldn't consider myself a huge comics fan, I have read a fair share of comics in my time. The sections concerned with Maus as a comic were very illuminating. Spiegelman has researched the hell out of any and all illustrations made by concentration camp inmates, as well as postwar pamphlets about the ghettos and death camps. And so we learn that Spiegelman took the crude look of these as inspiration for the Maus aesthetics. There's a great deal of talk about the way a sketch became a page, including panel structure and economy of words. Spiegelman talks of other cartoonists and comic artists he was inspired by, as well as other comic styles (including superhero and European styles). While Maus has gotten massive amounts of attention as Holocaust literature, the fact is that comics have their own history, of which Spiegelman's work is also a part. Maus should be celebrated not just as Holocaust literature, but also as an achievement in the history of comics. Not "better than a comic" or "not actually a comic" or "a comic for people who don't like comics," but "an exceptional comic." The sections about comics help place Maus in this context. Other than that, I enjoyed the sections about translating Maus into other languages, German, Polish and Hebrew included. All of these had their own idiosyncrasies. The sections about the making of the Personenbeschreibung episode about Spiegelman are also not to be missed, particularly because the episode was never shown in the United States and it looks like it's not available online. Spiegelman's comments on this documentary give insight into Georg Stefan Troller's aesthetic as opposed to his own, as well as life in Poland before the fall of the Iron Curtain. There's so much to say about MetaMaus because it's a 294-page book (and DVD!) that is just chock full with information. It is just fantastic to have such an in-depth analysis performed by both a scholar (Chute) and the author himself about one of your favorite books. If only there were more works such as MetaMaus about other books, and if only those works were as widely available and accessible as MetaMaus. So, even if Maus is not one of your own favorite books, I'd recommend at least skimming it, so you get an idea of what a MetaYourFavoriteBook could look like.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Victor

    When I first heard about Maus, I think the novelty of the 'gimmick' (you know, that comic book about the holocaust where the Jews are mice and the Nazis are cats) both drew me to it and made me skeptical of the whole thing at the same time (I was already pretty into comics / graphic novels / whateveryouwanttocallthem at the time). In hindsight my skepticism, by virtue of lowering my expectations, set me up to be absolutely floored by that book as the story unfolded. I've been a devotee of Mr. Sp When I first heard about Maus, I think the novelty of the 'gimmick' (you know, that comic book about the holocaust where the Jews are mice and the Nazis are cats) both drew me to it and made me skeptical of the whole thing at the same time (I was already pretty into comics / graphic novels / whateveryouwanttocallthem at the time). In hindsight my skepticism, by virtue of lowering my expectations, set me up to be absolutely floored by that book as the story unfolded. I've been a devotee of Mr. Spiegelman's ever since, and have faithfully read most of his new material as it's trickled out and as my time permitted. Thus, when I stumbled upon MetaMaus at the local library and read the premise on the cover blurb, my expectations couldn't have been higher. And yet they were surpassed. This book is truly one of the best I've read in my recent memory. Possibly ever. Mr. Spiegelman deftly runs through an FAQ of queries on Maus, that he's clearly thought deeply about. Why Mice? Why Comics? Why the Holocaust? The book takes the format of an interview with Hillary Chute (Professor of English Literature of the University of Chicago) who was given access to Art's "Mausfiles" (the notes, sketches, panel studies, etc...that Spiegelman compiled during the creation of Maus). Spiegelman thus guides us through the entire creative process, which is as insightful, penetrating, honest, and interesting as the story depicted in Maus. All of this is delightfully illustrated and explicated through early rough drafts, discarded ideas, and other fascinating insights into the creative process of making Maus. One of the things I enjoyed most about Maus was Spiegelman's narrow focus on the experiences of his father, without trying to expand these obviously representative experiences to the Shoah in general. By keeping his book narrowly focused on Vladek's story, it makes it more personal and relevant, and thus, IMO, more powerful. Spiegelman repeats this awesome feat while analyzing his own experiences researching, creating, and living with the fame and popularity (and certain elements of controversy) of Maus. After starting the book I found myself deliberately delaying reading it because, to be honest, I didn't want it to end. But upon committing to sitting down with it, my reading sessions would invariably stretch longer and later into the night than my children and wife appreciated. In short, this book is compelling, compulsive, and a must read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mickie

    Sometimes I feel like a good graphic novel is a lot like pornography--I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it. I am not an artist, but I feel a bit closer to artists when I read GNs since their art is laid out a bit differently than in a painting or other more traditional medium and when you layer in narrative and word play, I feel like I am seeing a 3D rendering of how the artist works through thoughts on a subject visually. I love that. With good language and good art-a grap Sometimes I feel like a good graphic novel is a lot like pornography--I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it. I am not an artist, but I feel a bit closer to artists when I read GNs since their art is laid out a bit differently than in a painting or other more traditional medium and when you layer in narrative and word play, I feel like I am seeing a 3D rendering of how the artist works through thoughts on a subject visually. I love that. With good language and good art-a graphic novel is a joy to behold and far from being a quick read becomes a heavier visual and poetic production. That behind the scenes of art feeling is all over MetaMaus. Now I have been all about the meta since pop-up video snagged me in the 90s and I adore the story behind the story. Often, too much information taints the art or belabors any message (looking at you GEORGE LUCAS, leave the thing alone godammit!), but not in this book. Why is that? The holocaust is like a toothache. It hurts and you can't make it go away, but you can't stop worrying it with your tongue. I'll never understand it or accept it and neither will Art Spiegelman, but he comes a hell of a lot closer than I ever will. And his thoughts are beautiful to look at.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ned Rifle

    Got this out of the library so as to have a light and inconsequential read for the holiday season. It fulfilled that role admirably but it also made me want to read Maus again, which I didn't expect. Spiegelman is good company and often very amusing, but he also takes his work seriously - in this book one often leads to the other. A good example is the case of the German edition of the book. Spiegelman was very particular that all countries would reproduce the cover art exactly, which was a bit Got this out of the library so as to have a light and inconsequential read for the holiday season. It fulfilled that role admirably but it also made me want to read Maus again, which I didn't expect. Spiegelman is good company and often very amusing, but he also takes his work seriously - in this book one often leads to the other. A good example is the case of the German edition of the book. Spiegelman was very particular that all countries would reproduce the cover art exactly, which was a bit of a problem in Germany as there are laws governing the displaying of swastika other than in the case of serious scholarly work. Eventually permission was granted for the Maus cover to be reproduced as it was, years later however, watching documentary about skinheads in Germany there was one young fascist man with a Maus poster on his wall - it was the only swastika he could find. Not a book for everyone but I was actually rather pleasantly surprised.

  15. 4 out of 5

    cameron

    What can I really say about this book on the evolution of the great two part Holocaust classic, MAUS. If you haven't read it than read it first before you read this. This book is completely written from long interviews with Art Spiegelman about his family, the history of his parents surviving the Holocaust, the effect on him, the effect MAUS has had on his life and his children's life and, for me, most amazing, the actual, specific evolution of the drawings. He sees MAUS, for which he won a Puli What can I really say about this book on the evolution of the great two part Holocaust classic, MAUS. If you haven't read it than read it first before you read this. This book is completely written from long interviews with Art Spiegelman about his family, the history of his parents surviving the Holocaust, the effect on him, the effect MAUS has had on his life and his children's life and, for me, most amazing, the actual, specific evolution of the drawings. He sees MAUS, for which he won a Pulitzer (should have won the Nobel in my opinion), as the pinnacle of his life as well as the bane of his existence. There is no spoiler to be written so I will tell you the most shocking two pages were the family tree before the War and the family tree after the war. I've been reading about the Holocaust and WW2 for 5 decades and yet felt his loss like a hard punch to the stomach. This is fascinating, emotional, intriguing and informative.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Francis

    Extremely insightful thoughts by Art Spiegelman about the creation of Maus. He discusses all aspects of the book: Why Mice? How to accurately portray Vladek's story? Why comics? What was the impact on Art? On Art's family? Although there were many moving moments from the book, there was one that really made me stop and think. It showed two family trees. The first family tree showed all of Art's extended family on his mother's side before WWII. The second family tree had taken out every relative w Extremely insightful thoughts by Art Spiegelman about the creation of Maus. He discusses all aspects of the book: Why Mice? How to accurately portray Vladek's story? Why comics? What was the impact on Art? On Art's family? Although there were many moving moments from the book, there was one that really made me stop and think. It showed two family trees. The first family tree showed all of Art's extended family on his mother's side before WWII. The second family tree had taken out every relative who was not alive after World War II. The second family tree was nearly empty. Art had almost no relatives alive after the war, except for his parents. The final pages of the book gave the transcript of Art's interviews with Vladek. This was almost like re-reading Maus again, without the pictures. This will not be a book that I will forget any time soon. There was also a DVD with the book with extra insights on it. I have yet to watch this so I cannot comment on it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jedi JC Daquis

    True to its promise written in the backcover which is "...as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals", MetaMaus seals the deal as the ultimate companion to Art Spiegelman's Maus. It reverberates what its predecessor is exploding with: raw truth, tenderness and entertainment altogether with a dip of emotional wounds and pinches of humour in every page. True to its promise written in the backcover which is "...as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals", MetaMaus seals the deal as the ultimate companion to Art Spiegelman's Maus. It reverberates what its predecessor is exploding with: raw truth, tenderness and entertainment altogether with a dip of emotional wounds and pinches of humour in every page.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pietro Maximoff

    I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone who was ever touched by Maus. every little possible detail about the Speigelman family is here in this book. it's worth checking this out if nothing more than for the sketches and photographs included within. Speigelman is as good with words as he is with illustrations. if you happen to get the CDR disc, take the time to look through all the sketches and the recordings. I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone who was ever touched by Maus. every little possible detail about the Speigelman family is here in this book. it's worth checking this out if nothing more than for the sketches and photographs included within. Speigelman is as good with words as he is with illustrations. if you happen to get the CDR disc, take the time to look through all the sketches and the recordings.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Review to come

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Orrego

    My God, I've read and reread Maus plenty of times since I came to it around 2008, 2009. It's a major book. But I didn't know the efforts behind its creation. Spiegelman is such an intelligent dude, and what captivated me the most was his blind compromise for what he was doing. I really admire people who, despite everything, dedicate their entire lives to achieve what they set to do. Metamaus asks good questions, and is a unlimited source of the material behind the decisions that shaped one of the My God, I've read and reread Maus plenty of times since I came to it around 2008, 2009. It's a major book. But I didn't know the efforts behind its creation. Spiegelman is such an intelligent dude, and what captivated me the most was his blind compromise for what he was doing. I really admire people who, despite everything, dedicate their entire lives to achieve what they set to do. Metamaus asks good questions, and is a unlimited source of the material behind the decisions that shaped one of the best books ever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sorbello

    Maus is the tragic yet inspirational tale of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish man who miraculously managed to survive the horrors of Hitler’s reign, the cruelty of the Nazis and the literal hellhole known Auschwitz, the most brutal and remorseless concentration camp which was single-handedly responsible for the deaths of over a million people. All of this was done through many unimaginable strides of luck, perseverance and quick wits. Maus masterfully balances two parallel stories. The first story, wh Maus is the tragic yet inspirational tale of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish man who miraculously managed to survive the horrors of Hitler’s reign, the cruelty of the Nazis and the literal hellhole known Auschwitz, the most brutal and remorseless concentration camp which was single-handedly responsible for the deaths of over a million people. All of this was done through many unimaginable strides of luck, perseverance and quick wits. Maus masterfully balances two parallel stories. The first story, which is the meat and bones of the tale, is a documentary style retelling of Vladek’s experiences during World War II, where the jews are portrayed as mice and the Nazis are portrayed as cats. It’s a not so subtle metaphor for cats playing with mice. Cats don’t just kill their food, they play with it, torture it, and make it suffer until it stops amusing them. This half of the story is told through interviews between Vladek and his son Artie, Artie as in Art Spiegalman, being the author of the story who brings his recorded interviews and daily squabbles with his aging father to life with creative illustrations. On top of Jews being portrayed as mice and Nazis as cats, every other ethnicity is portrayed as different breeds of animals as well. This is done to really drive the themes of racism home, dehumanizing different groups of people based on racial stereotypes and boiling them down to one dimensional portrayals of otherwise complex people. This is a common tactic among genocidal war mongers and political extremists. They strip away the basic human qualities of their enemies and opponents to make their followers view them as less than human. The book even opens up by directly citing Hitler’s quote, “The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” This reminds me of another famous quote by Hitler, where he says, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” Indoctrination is a dangerous weapon. The best way to get people to treat others like garbage is to brainwash them into believing that the people they’re hurting aren’t really human, they’re the cause of all your suffering and they just happen to look the same as you. The simplified yet deliberate art style choices are reminiscent of those from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, to quote the book. The illustrated flashbacks go into graphic detail of the living conditions of the Jewish ghettos, the living conditions of the concentration camps, the treatment of slaves and prisoners, and the harsh reality of betrayal, starvation, torture, confinement and the absolute despair of death literally lurking around every corner. It’s bleak, terrifying and depressing, but the tale is not completely devoid of hope. The other half of the story is about Vladek’s life after the war, getting remarried after losing his wife in the war, and how he brought another son into the world who would later go on to write this very biography. This second story revolves around Artie’s complicated relationship with his traumatized father. Vladek has many strange quirks that have a habit of getting under his wife and son’s skin. The old man never lets a single penny or scrap of food go to waste. He’s brutally honest and always follows his gut instincts. He’s a bit insensitive and sometimes he even makes jokes about his own horrific past experiences during the Holocaust and how he watched many of his friends and family members die. He’s as stubborn as a mule and he can be very frustrating and disagreeable at times, but it’s undeniable that his stubborn and unrelenting attitude most likely played a role in his survival. He was always the type to adjust to his surroundings, plying his trade and getting his hands dirty if it meant being able to survive another day. The interweaving plots of Vladek’s experiences during World War II and his relationship with his son as an old man are equal parts tragic, comical and touching. Each chapter begins with the author interviewing his father about different aspects of his past experiences under Hitler’s reign. It balances slice of life with historical tragedies. The use of art and dramatic storytelling make the impact of the events feel much more personal and gruesome than the average documentary or history book would allow. The touching relationship between Vladek and his son is an important reminder that these things happened to normal, innocent people that didn’t do anything wrong and just wanted to live peaceful lives like everyone else. It shows how the Holocaust tore millions of loving families apart, traumatized the few survivors and their children who came after the war, how the Nazi's treated everyone they viewed to be beneath them and so on. It’s more effective and impactful than most required reading on the subject taught in educational settings because of that extra layer of humanization through the perspective of Artie and Vladek’s relatable interactions. One of my favorite parts of the book was the love story between Vladek and his first true love Anja, who endured the horrors of the concentration camps in a remote location. Vladek and Anja kept each other strong by writing letters to each other in secret, risking their lives and sneaking behind the backs of the monsters running the camps just to remind each other that nothing would be able to separate them, not even the most catastrophic war in history. The hope of one day being able to see each other once more was the only thing that kept them going against all odds. It’s made clear very early on that the love story between the two unfortunately wasn’t able to have a happy ending, and what happened to Anja left Vladek and his son with severe emotional damage. The pain that Anja left with both father and son tore them apart and brought them together through mutual suffering. Maus shows how heartless and evil humans are capable of being, but it also shows how brave, caring and resourceful we can be as well. We’re survivors by nature, and we’ll struggle against all odds if we think it will lead us back to peace and happiness. After all, peace, happiness and freedom, are all things that we should never take for granted. We never know when we might be placed in a situation where we’re in danger of having them all taken away from us.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Maus I and Maus 2 are among the most powerful books I've read, and so I was interested to find out the story behind the story. MetaMaus takes the form of a book-length Q&A (like everything else of Spiegelman's put together over several years) covering most of the questions he has gotten about the books since they were published. I had always assumed that Spiegelman took some poetic license to make the Maus narrative work in comic form. What struck me most forcefully was the lengths Spiegelman to Maus I and Maus 2 are among the most powerful books I've read, and so I was interested to find out the story behind the story. MetaMaus takes the form of a book-length Q&A (like everything else of Spiegelman's put together over several years) covering most of the questions he has gotten about the books since they were published. I had always assumed that Spiegelman took some poetic license to make the Maus narrative work in comic form. What struck me most forcefully was the lengths Spiegelman took to remain absolutely faithful to his father's story during the war and at Auschwitz, even where his father's story conflicts, even in a minor way, with other historical sources. The one piece of advice I would have is to have Maus I and Maus 2 close by when you read MetaMaus because he discusses many of pages minutely and you really want to be able to see the source.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    The Complete Maus (Maus I & II) is such an overwhelming story that I'm glad I found MetaMaus which explains much of the background material for Spiegelman's book. You will find here a complete transcript of Art's interview of Vladek, a family tree for Vladek's and Anja's families, sketches to show how the comic page was developed, and much of the "theory of comics" -- or at least Spiegelman's theory. Spiegelman explains how he drew a panel when he wasn't sure Vladek was telling the truth or didn The Complete Maus (Maus I & II) is such an overwhelming story that I'm glad I found MetaMaus which explains much of the background material for Spiegelman's book. You will find here a complete transcript of Art's interview of Vladek, a family tree for Vladek's and Anja's families, sketches to show how the comic page was developed, and much of the "theory of comics" -- or at least Spiegelman's theory. Spiegelman explains how he drew a panel when he wasn't sure Vladek was telling the truth or didn't remember things properly. He shows how the number and size of panels on a page is almost like a musical beat for the story. He explains the "mouse" and "cat" usage and how the other animals came to be. This is a wonderful book, and so necessary if you want a fuller experience of Maus. It is worth every minute you spend with it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew McCroskey

    MetaMaus is a "behind the scenes" look at Art Spiegelman's most famous graphic novel series Maus. Spiegelman answers questions regarding, "Why the Holocaust and why use mice?" with lots of graphic embellishment in the form of early drafts and unused artwork. The book is a nice addition to the Maus experience, and alone I'd give it three to four stars. That being said, the real treat is the companion DVD which contains not only an electronic version of Maus but interview clips of Vladek Spiegelman MetaMaus is a "behind the scenes" look at Art Spiegelman's most famous graphic novel series Maus. Spiegelman answers questions regarding, "Why the Holocaust and why use mice?" with lots of graphic embellishment in the form of early drafts and unused artwork. The book is a nice addition to the Maus experience, and alone I'd give it three to four stars. That being said, the real treat is the companion DVD which contains not only an electronic version of Maus but interview clips of Vladek Spiegelman, Art's father and protagonist of Maus. Hearing his voice while he tells stories I've read in the book adds a new layer to a graphic novel I first read over 20 years ago. As a teacher, I will be using this book and DVD in my own literature classes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Blanche

    This was a great book about writing the best graphic biography I have ever read (also the only one, by the way). Of particular interest to me was Spiegelman's coming to a definition of how he sees himself as a Jew. His perceptions by non jews as being Jewish and perceptions by religious jews as being a non Jew. Something I have grappled with throughout my life as a secular Jew. For those interested in comic illustration it is also filled with a lot of information about the technical issues invol This was a great book about writing the best graphic biography I have ever read (also the only one, by the way). Of particular interest to me was Spiegelman's coming to a definition of how he sees himself as a Jew. His perceptions by non jews as being Jewish and perceptions by religious jews as being a non Jew. Something I have grappled with throughout my life as a secular Jew. For those interested in comic illustration it is also filled with a lot of information about the technical issues involved which I found quite interesting. It inspired me to re-read the Complete Mouse keeping in mind what I had learned about Spiegelman's process in creating it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Here's what I loved about this book: The CD where I could hear Vladek's voice and look at pictures, then the end of the book where all the Audio is transcribed and I can read Vladek's story. This book was just WAAAAY too in depth for the average reader. If I was a comic artist and Spiegelman was my hero, I think this book would be invaluable. However, I do not need to know the intricate details of Spiegelman's thought process and this and that. I read most of the interview, but not all, it was a Here's what I loved about this book: The CD where I could hear Vladek's voice and look at pictures, then the end of the book where all the Audio is transcribed and I can read Vladek's story. This book was just WAAAAY too in depth for the average reader. If I was a comic artist and Spiegelman was my hero, I think this book would be invaluable. However, I do not need to know the intricate details of Spiegelman's thought process and this and that. I read most of the interview, but not all, it was a bore really and just dragged on for too long. I think it would have been better to just skim through and read the parts that were interesting to me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    I'm always excited to get to see an artist's process, and Spiegelman's comprehensive look at the creation of his classic book Maus doesn't disappoint, supplementing plenty of insightful text with a host of drawings, sketches, notes and other preparatory and supplemental work. As if that weren't enough there's a DVD with even more material, which I probably won't look at for a long time because it feels overwhelming to have access to that much material. I'm always excited to get to see an artist's process, and Spiegelman's comprehensive look at the creation of his classic book Maus doesn't disappoint, supplementing plenty of insightful text with a host of drawings, sketches, notes and other preparatory and supplemental work. As if that weren't enough there's a DVD with even more material, which I probably won't look at for a long time because it feels overwhelming to have access to that much material.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Maus was my first graphic novel, and I've been fascinated with it ever since. Metamaus is a compendium of all things Maus, including an indepth interview with Spigelman, drafts and early versions of the story, his drawings, and a DVD with even more. Really an amazing example of a multimedia "book" in itself--and very detailed about the creation and execution of the work of art that is the Complete Maus. Maus was my first graphic novel, and I've been fascinated with it ever since. Metamaus is a compendium of all things Maus, including an indepth interview with Spigelman, drafts and early versions of the story, his drawings, and a DVD with even more. Really an amazing example of a multimedia "book" in itself--and very detailed about the creation and execution of the work of art that is the Complete Maus.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Incredible insights into Spiegelman's process of writing Maus. It was very humbling to read about the detailed research, deliberation over so many decisions, his grasp of the craft of really using the page, and struggles to have the book properly understood in the market. Read The Complete Maus first, then this, then Maus again. Incredible insights into Spiegelman's process of writing Maus. It was very humbling to read about the detailed research, deliberation over so many decisions, his grasp of the craft of really using the page, and struggles to have the book properly understood in the market. Read The Complete Maus first, then this, then Maus again.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    If you love Maus, you will love love love this book. It's an extended Q&A with Spiegelman where he gets into lovely detail about things like what it was like to work on Maus for 13 years, what it was like to live with Vladek, his father, what the impact of the work has been on his wife and kids, and all sorts of wondrous stuff about his process. Brilliant, truly. If you love Maus, you will love love love this book. It's an extended Q&A with Spiegelman where he gets into lovely detail about things like what it was like to work on Maus for 13 years, what it was like to live with Vladek, his father, what the impact of the work has been on his wife and kids, and all sorts of wondrous stuff about his process. Brilliant, truly.

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