Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!
  • Alternative view 1 of Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!
  • Alternative view 2 of Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!
  • Alternative view 3 of Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!
  • Alternative view 4 of Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!
<Previous >Next

Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!

by Art Spiegelman
     
 

The creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus explores the comics form...and how it formed him!

This book opens with Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, creating vignettes of the people, events, and comics that shaped Art Spiegelman. It traces the artist's evolution from a MAD-comics obsessed boy in Rego Park, Queens, to a neurotic adult

Overview

The creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus explores the comics form...and how it formed him!

This book opens with Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, creating vignettes of the people, events, and comics that shaped Art Spiegelman. It traces the artist's evolution from a MAD-comics obsessed boy in Rego Park, Queens, to a neurotic adult examining the effect of his parents' memories of Auschwitz on his own son.

The second part presents a facsimile of Breakdowns, the long-sought after collection of the artist's comics of the 1970s, the book that triggers these memories. Breakdowns established the mode of formally sophisticated comics that transformed the medium, and includes the prototype of Maus, cubist experiments, an essay on humor, and the definitive genre-twisting pulp story "Ace Hole-Midget Detective."

Pulling all this together is an illustrated essay that looks back at the sixties as the artist pushes sixty, and explains the obsessions that brought these works into being. Poignant, funny, complex, and innovative, Breakdowns alters the terms of what can be accomplished in a memoir.

Editorial Reviews

Douglas Wolk
In the 1970s, nearly all of Spiegelman's work was years ahead of art-comics trends, from the original version of "Maus" (a three-page sketch about Spiegelman's father's experiences during the Holocaust, which evolved into his two-volume magnum opus in the '80s) to "The Malpractice Suite," an extended mutilation of an old "Rex Morgan M.D." strip that becomes more convoluted and deranged with every panel. Spiegelman draws them all with a frantic intensity, as if his pen were about to slash through his drawing board and crack his table in half.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

This reprint of Spiegelman's 1978 collection of comics is a must-have for any comics aficionado, art-house dude, hipster or anyone who ever thought to himself, "Hmm, comics are kinda cool." It will also be liked by anyone who ever enjoyed Kafka or anything postmodern enough to be in McSweeney's. There's still enough here for regular people to enjoy, too. The 30-page memoirish introduction, all done in comics (in which we get to see Spiegelman mess up his son's mind the way his was messed up) explains how comics came to be the shining light for so many messed-up adolescent boys: "Mad warped a generation in the bland American 1950s-something that's been done before, but possibly not so well." The early comics are a revelation. Spiegelman gives us the story that led to Maus, and we see how he evolved from an R. Crumb-loving artist with neuroses pertaining to The Dick Van Dyke Show to a tight storyteller of anxious, modern folktales. One of the functions of the artist is to take us to hell and get us out in one piece. Spiegelman's early trips into hallucinatory darkness do this. We come out in one piece; it's not clear he did. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A reissue of the graphic artist's early, little-seen volume shows his formative work, while an extensive forword and afterword provide autobiographical context. Spiegelman (In the Shadow of No Towers, 2004, etc.) justifies the Joycean subtitle of this collection, as the seeds of his renowned artistry are here. He explains in his afterword that he was "startled" when his publisher suggested a reissue of 1978's Breakdowns, because its impact upon initial release had been minimal with both readers and fellow artists. Yet, he explains, "it was the resounding lack of response to Breakdowns that led directly to the 300-page Maus," which won the Pulitzer Prize and established the graphic narrative as something more than comic books for adults. While the earliest piece in Breakdowns provides a prototype for Maus, and the rest shows a range that extends from a detective serial (with a nod toward Picasso) to hardcore sexuality, the artist wasn't content here to let Breakdowns stand on its own. The graphic narrative that introduces the reissue is considerably longer than any of the pieces in Breakdowns, detailing the early years of the comics-obsessed artist, the profound influence of MAD magazine, the trauma of his mother's suicide, his pay-the-bills work designing bubblegum cards for Topps (including the Garbage Pail Kids) and his development of both a philosophy and an aesthetic that would result in comics being taken more seriously than they had been. "He dared to call himself an artist and call his medium an art form," he explains in the mostly textual afterword, as he became "infatuated with the cross-pollination of High and Low." Though much of the work for which the artist has becomecelebrated has been autobiographical, this reissue is revelatory as it traces his development. Fans of graphic novels in general and Spiegelman in particular will savor this. Agent: Suzanne Williams/Suzanne Williams Public Relations

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375423956
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/07/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
10.28(w) x 14.20(h) x 0.59(d)

Meet the Author

Perhaps best known for his masterful Holocaust narratives Maus and Maus II– which in 1992 won a Pulitzer Prize–Art Spiegelman is one of the world's best known and beloved comic artists.

Born in Stockholm in 1948, Spiegelman rejected his parents’ aspirations for him to become a dentist, and began to study cartooning in high school and drawing professionally at age 16. He went on to study art and philosophy at Harpur College before joining the underground comics movement. As creative consultant for Topps Candy from 1965-1987, Spiegelman designed Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and other novelty items, and taught history and aesthetics of comics at the School for Visual Arts in New York from 1979-1986. In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Françoise Mouly. His work has since been published in many periodicals, including The New Yorker, where he was a staff artist and writer from 1993-2003. He has since published a children’s book entitled Open Me… I’m A Dog, as well as the illustration accompaniment to the 1928 book The Wild Party, by Joseph Moncure March.

Spiegelman is the author, most recently, of In the Shadow of No Towers. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and, in addition to the winning the Pulitzer Prize, Maus was nominated for a National Book Critics' Circle Award. His drawings and prints have been widely exhibited here and abroad. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >