14 July 2010
Maus is the biography of Spiegelman's father Vladek Spiegelman. In Chapter 5, “Mouse Holes” the book portrays the author and his father discussing the father's experiences in German occupied Poland during the second world war. The experiences Vladek recounts to his son are illustrated in the book as flashbacks. Vladek tells his son about life in the ghettos. He describes sending his first son, Richieu, to live with his aunt in another ghetto that was supposed to be safer. Later Vladek and his wife Anja, Art's mother, find out that the aunt had poisoned herself, her child, and Richieu in order to spare them from going to the concentration camps. Vladek also describes hiding out in secret bunkers to avoid the Germans, and eventually leaving the ghettos in disguise.
Maus is a very powerful comic. The way the characters are portrayed, how they talk,is in some ways very realistic, apart from the fact that everyone is depicted as furry animals. In a way its kind of funny to think of a comic written about the Holocaust, especially one in which all of the characters are talking animals, but it works perfectly the way Spiegelman implements it. The use of animals adds to the story, and does not take away from it or make it seem any less serious.
Its great to read a comic that does something really different, and I can see why this particular comic won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. I think Spiegelman was very brave to write Maus. Not only for being a pioneer in the field of comics, and doing something creative and innovative with comics, but also for opening up his family's history for everyone to see.
12 July 2010
By watching “Gotham Knight,” a series of interpretations of the Batman, I was able to see this superhero in many different perspectives. In the first segment, Batman is shown through the eyes of four children. Batman is a “living shadow” by one witness account. Batman’s ghostly ability to melt into the darkness keeps his assailant from ending him. By another witness, the Batman is a Bat-monster. Like a humanoid-bat, this version can fly and shrieks like the animal of his namesake when fighting. But that report is also challenged by another observer who claims Batman is not a man at all. In this testimony, the Batman is a robot—a machine that fights and uses sophisticated technology (think: crazy explosives and rocket launchers) to fight off bad-guys. The stories are proven to be nothing more than the figments of the active imaginations of the children at the end when the real Batman comes crashing through the window. Fighting the same type of villain as in the first stories, this Batman is definitely human, hurt and exhausted from fighting. Batman even has a moment of weakness that his attacker tries to take advantage of… but his young fan (and the only child who has no other experiences to draw on) steps in and has Batman’s back. The attacker is down, Batman prevails with the help of the child. Batman thanks the kid, then, is on his way. The other kids want the story… “Man, do I have a story for you!”
This first segment was the most memorable of the series for me because it shows how a legend is made… through hearsay. ;) These children tell their stories with conviction and even participate in the events surrounding their story… they weren’t just there, they were in the action. Batman becomes what they want him to be… a shadowy ghost with the ability to disappear into the darkness, a monster, a robot! Batman is anything but human to these children because he’s a superhero. The children can’t explain who Batman is without making him more than human.
The rest of short series explains how a man can do such extraordinary things. He trains hard, works through his pain, and uses his riches to attain special weapons and machinery. How he is seen through the eyes of children, the cops he aids to apprehend bad guys, Commissioner Gordon, the woman who trains him, Alfred the butler all vary. Who is Batman?? The question is an ongoing debate in the series.
I enjoyed these interpretations of Batman. Seeing the different segments gave me more background on the hero… I have seen the movies but only read the comics assigned in this class so my exposure is very limited. I feel that viewing these short films also gave me another perspective on “the look” of Batman. Batman was drawn differently in each section and the differences all served a purpose. How we perceive Batman can change how we interpret him.