Prisoners on the hell planet

I first encountered “Maus” when I was about 11. My family was on vacation and we went to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. 
    I remember being told that this was a completely different type of comic book. It featured real people whose lives had been adapted in an arthropomorphic way.
   I didn’t really get that statement but I did read the comic. I am glad I did.
       “Maus” is a survivors tale. However, it is a multi-faceted survivors tale. Art Spiegelman is interviewing his father but at the same time he is doing to his best just to ‘survive’ his fathers various neurosis. Art is also trying to survive his mothers suicide, an item he documents in his “Prisoner on the hell planet” comic.
   –Funny, the family members of the recently deceased are called “the survivors.”–
  What is really great about this comic is how it treats the idea of survival. There is a  two page prologue that features Art as a boy skating with his friends. He falls down and his “friends” leave him. He tells his father, who pessimistically mocks the bond– he comments on people confined to a small room with no food and comments on who is a friend in that situation.
     The Jews trying to survive in Hitler’s Europe didn’t have friends. Their own people worked as informants and policeman–vladek’s cousin. They sold each other out in hopes of surviving. It really makes you think about what was happening. 
   How does it feel not to be able to trust your neighbors, your friends, your lovers, etc? How does it feel to be robbed and cheated with no place to go?
  “Maus” doesnt try to answer these questions. “Maus” , in all of it’s genius, presents these problems to the reader for them to figure out.

One thought on “Prisoners on the hell planet”

  1. It’s cool how you first read Maus at such a young age. My dad has one of the very early printings of this novel–a collector’s item. It was sitting on our bookshelf for as long as I can remember, and as a young girl (very young, 5 or 6) I would occasionally flip through the pages and think it was a really neat picture book, but I knew it was too adult for me to understand. Later, when I learned about the Holocaust (a la Diary of Anne Frank, Night, etc), I think I was afraid to read it because I thought it would be too graphic and sad. I didn’t read it until much later when I started college and was able to contextualize it as such an vital, important book.

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