The Art of Storytelling

On Tuesday’s class, we focused on Maus’s emphasis on and dedication to storytelling. The class discussed what elements make a story captivating and worth listening to. This discussion was sparked by the examples Professor Sample gave while testing out his storytelling abilities. First, Sample decided to tell the class a story about when his brother chased him and attacked him with a vacuum cleaner. However, he left out all descriptive details and only listed the basic skeleton of the story. The class was not interested by the story due to the fact that the way in which it was told was uninformative and somewhat boring. So Professor Sample decided to give the story a second try. On his second attempt, he filled his story with a great deal of descriptions. He even went as far as discussing the color and thickness of the carpet in his house. The second attempt at his story was not effective either because the amount of details given caused the story to drag out and the class to lose interest. The amount of detail took away from the actions that were taking place. Professor Sample decided to give his story one last try, proving that the saying “the third time is a charm” is true. On his third try, Professor Sample provided the perfect mix of detail, action, and humor to engage the interests of the class. After deciding that a story is interesting when action takes place, character descriptions are given, and the actions presented are done so in an exciting manner, the class broke into groups and took turns telling their own personal stories to each other.

The storytelling example and exercise was important to the class because storytelling plays such a large role in the graphic novel Maus. The entire graphic novel is one big story told over multiple chapters. Due to the fact that Maus is a true story created from conversations that Spiegelman had with his father, a Holocaust survivor, it is important that we, as readers, are able to identify with Spiegelman and realize that this is a personal story he is choosing to share with the world. By sharing our own personal stories and listening to others stories, we are able to experience (to a point) what Spiegelman experience with his father while gaining the information for Maus.

Maus: The Soundtrack

Personally, sometimes I can’t work without some music in the background. According to this snippet from NPR’s Intersections, Art Spiegelman also needed a little sound to inspire him while creating Maus. Along with the recordings of his father Vladek, Spiegelman also tuned in to the Comedy Harmonics (read the article), both of which you can listen to on the site.  I had some trouble playing the recordings directly beneath the article, but the ones at the top of the  page are interesting when you put them into context. The clip from Vladek is transposed almost verbatim into the comic, which I felt really made it pop in terms of authenticity.

If you look around the sight (i.e. just below the article and somewhere to the right) there are also some links (some broken) to articles about Maus from NPR and other sites.