29 March 2012

Maus: A Cure for an Emotional Imbalance

A story within a story is told in “Mouse Hole,” chapter 5 of Maus: A Survivors Tale a comic by Art Spiegelman. A sort of biography in which Spiegelman shares through a comic, his families story happening after the Holocaust and an important event of his lifetime. Artie’s father makes a shocking discovery of a comic called “Prisoner on the Hell Planet”, that Artie wrote years back detailing his mothers suicide. Artie illustrates his last encounter with his mother before she commits suicide. He created a very personal and realistic comic book where he poured out his entire soul and guilt toward this event during his life. The discovery of the comic brings about an interesting conversation between father and son. Artie and Vladek take a walk and while they so, Vladek goes into detail about what he and his wife Anja went through at the time of the Holocaust. The horrors that not only themselves, but other Jews experienced during these years were revealed to Artie. Vladek recalls and discloses the secret hiding places, the hunger and fear they experienced, and the many people they saw disappear either because of deportation or murder by the germans. The tricks and trades that Jews came up with to stay alive greatly touched Artie, which listened to his father with great attention and frustration. Vladek reveals to his son a “treasure” that he has stored in a bank since his mothers death. Although Vladek has remarried, he cries out to Artie how much he still thinks about Anja. 
When thinking of comics it is important to relate them to Jewish culture based on the many stories that were created because of events in their history. In comparison to other comics such as Superman, this comic by Spiegelman is ten times more revealing of the actual intention of the storyline. McCloud in his text Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art relates how art can “Provide an outlet for emotional imbalances,” (167) similarly, Spiegelman uses art through comics as his way of coping with his current situation. The phrase “It’s good you got it outside your system,” (104) is said by Vladek to Artie in Maus: A Survivors Tale relating to Prisoner on the Hell Planet, where Artie does use art as an outlet for his emotional imbalances due to his mothers suicide. A comic book such as Maus, integrates pictures and word bubbles to create a very informative but also intense storyline, which combined make up a comic with very much potential. After reading this comic, I agree with McCloud that a comic can be a useful way of treating an emotional imbalance. It is evident that these pictures and words have helped many readers understand a little more of Art Spiegelman’s story but also about the Holocaust in general. 


  1. I agree this story helps us understand how they were forced to live because of fear. It helps us understand almost as if that was us.