27 March 2012

True Courage

As freedom-loving people across the globe hope for an end to tyranny, we will never forget the enormous suffering of the Holocaust.
                                                                                  ~Bob Beauprez           

             The one comic to ever win the Pulitzer Prize was Art Speigelman’s Maus: A Survivors Tale. This culturally rich comic is a biography about the author’s Jewish father; it tells the tale of his life before, during, and after the Second World War.  Chapter five of Maus: A Survivors Tale entitled “Mouse Holes” starts off with young Artie and his father Vladek living a simple life of a father and son.  Artie arrives to visit his father only to find that his father Vladek is not acting himself today.  He soon discovers that the reason his father is so down is because he has read a certain underground comic Artie wrote detailing the suicide of his mother.  It seems Vladek really needs someone to talk to, so he and his son then take a walk to the bank while Vladek shares some of his past experiences.  Before the Jews were being rounded up into concentration camps they were forced into a community of all Jews so they could be watched. Vladek and his friends were forced into the community of Srodula.  However Vladek sensed that it would only get worse so he and his friends sent their children away and hid in homemade bunkers.  And they hid just in time before almost every Jew in Srodula was being forced into a higher security facility or the dreaded concentration camp, Auschwitz.  Vladek and his friends held out and hid from the Germans for some time but ultimately were caught and taken and forced to work in a shoe shop.  Slowly everyone was being carted away to Auschwitz, but when the Germans came for Vladek and his friends they were gone. They were hidden in another secret bunker starving instead of being taken, but soon Vladek and his friend’s patience paid off, and they did escape from Srodula.

            This detailed telling of the experiences of this man who actually was alive during the time of the Jewish Holocaust gives us a shockingly clear picture about what really happened. Scott McCloud says in Reinventing Comics that the revolution Minority Representation states that a person from a particular ethnic group can tell a story about his particular culture better than someone from a different ethnic background.  I think that holds true in this comic, because after all, the Holocaust is a part of Jewish history, and Art Speigelman is Jewish.  I would further add to Scott McCloud’s revolution by saying that “A person who has actually experienced what has happened in the story, can better tell that story”.  This is the case with Vladek, even though he didn’t write the comic, we know that he still had to tell these stories to his son, Art Speigelman, who in turn put them in a comic. So not only does Scott McCloud’s revolution of Minority Representation apply to Art Speigelman, but it would also apply to his father Vladek whose culture is also Jewish.  So, if we acknowledge my add-on to the revolution of Minority Representation we can see that this comic may have never won the Pulitzer Prize, or became as popular as it did if it was not for the great storytelling of Art Speigelman’s father, Vladek.  


  1. You did a good job on your summary. I liked how you related it to McCloud's idea about minorities. The story is way more personal and feels way more real when it is told by Vladek instead of Artie, even though Artie is the author of the comic. I thought it was a genius way to write the comic.

  2. You relating this to McCloud and minorities reminded me of when he was pointing out how white writers could never create black comic heroes without sounding biased or just clueless. I believe if any other race that wasn't apart of the tragedy tried to create a piece of work with a character that went through it, the story would fail to compare with works such as Speigelmans or even Ann Frank.