MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus

Overview

***NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD WINNER***

Visually and emotionally rich, MetaMaus is as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals.
 
In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize–winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered...

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Overview

***NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD WINNER***

Visually and emotionally rich, MetaMaus is as groundbreaking as the masterpiece whose creation it reveals.
 
In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize–winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago.
 
He probes the questions that Maus most often evokes—Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics?—and gives us a new and essential work about the creative process.
 
MetaMaus includes a bonus DVD-R that provides a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus linked to a deep archive of audio interviews with his survivor father, historical documents, and a wealth of Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches.
 
Compelling and intimate, MetaMaus is poised to become a classic in its own right.

Winner of the 2012 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book
Winner of the 2011 National Jewish Book Award for Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Picking up Maus today, it's difficult to understand how a work of such immediacy could have been first published a full twenty-five years ago. Now on that anniversary, Art Spiegelman, its creator, describes how this graphic novel Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece emerged from his father's memories of his family's Holocaust history. MetaMaus earns its title with a breathtaking multimedia assemblage. In addition to the profusely illustrated 300-page book of interviews, photos, and pictures, the package includes a DVD that contains a dizzying wealth of materials, including 7,500 drawings and sketches. An unforgettable tribute to an unforgettable book.

Publishers Weekly
In 1986, Spiegelman broke ground on a new art form with his book-length comic Maus. Arguably the first recognizable example of the graphic novel, the comic recounted his father's experiences as a Holocaust survivor and Spiegelman's own attempts to make sense of his family's history. In this new volume of prose based on interviews with his editor Hillary Chute, Spiegelman reveals the arduous process that took him from his inspiration for the book to its impact on literary history. Where other books of this kind tend toward self-indulgence, Spiegelman takes a profoundly intimate approach, laying bare piles of concept art, family photographs, genealogies, Holocaust propaganda, rejection letters, and interviews with his wife and children. The result is an extraordinary look at the history of comics and Spiegelman's life through the lens of Maus. The book's design has been executed with as much care as the content of the interviews themselves, and scarcely a page goes by without some image to reinforce the narrative. If these aren't enough, the book comes with a DVD of supplemental materials that could keep the reader immersed in Spiegelman's world for days. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Richly rewarding…The book also serves as a master class on the making and reading of comics…The last frame encapsulates in one single moment the artfulness behind the tale we’ve just read, and the uneasy combination of filial pride and anger that flowed through Maus and flows through Metamaus as well.” –The New York Times Book Review

 Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics? Spiegelman answers intelligently, articulately, and with a high degree of psychological and aesthetic penetration.” –Booklist, starred review

As a floor plan for endless exploration, it is the Haus That “Maus” Built…Pick any page and gaze. The windows into these stories about the story are to be found at every turn, filling the space with insightful light.” –Washington Post’s Comic Riffs
 
“Art Spiegelman has done more than any other writer of the last few decades to change our understanding of the way stories about the Holocaust can be written…MetaMaus is a profound meditation on the meaning of sources and the uses we make of them.” –The New Republic   

“A fascinating meditation on art, writing, and one of the darkest periods in human history.” –The Atlantic

“Striking…a treasure trove of material.” –Shelf Awareness 
 
“Fascinating and often provocative…the accompanying DVD will satisfy the insatiable appetite.” –Kirkus 

“Sure to breed excitement.” –Library Journal 

“Mr. Spiegelman’s new book, MetaMaus, functions as a kind of artist’s scrapbook, chapbook, photo album and storage trunk. Packed with more extras than a new ‘Transformers’ DVD, it’s a look back at Maus and its complicated composition and reception…Mr. Spiegelman is a witty and testy raconteur, and Ms. Chute knows a good deal about comics and she pulls good things from him…Spiegelman is charismatic, and the photographs of him sprinkled throughout are pretty delightful.” –New York Times 

“Few books have made as much impact as Maus has. MetaMaus explores this impact, as well as providing some of the original notebook material on the graphic novels…[contains] the single most powerful graphic representation of the effects of the Holocaust…If you are serious about comics or the Holocaust, this book should be on your shelf.” –San Francisco Book Review

“Spiegelman is well-spoken and insightful, and is one of those rare creators who can talk coherently about his own work and process…MetaMaus is thoroughly illustrated with excerpts from Spiegelman's sketchbook, from the original source materials he used when creating his book, and news clippings and other ephemera from the books' storied history…Gripping and smart.” –Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“Each page is more beautiful than the next…you’ll find yourself as engrossed in it as you were in Maus.” –Jewish Book Council Blog

MetaMaus is an intriguing look into the guts of a massive artistic-historical project. With its visual, textual and historical components, the book untangles the tight narrative and visual knots into which the medium, the message and the process of ‘Maus’ are tied. With grist to millers of either ‘Maus,’ Spiegelman or both, it is a must-have item.” –Forward 
 
“Like a director's commentary track, the new MetaMaus provides a kind of behind-the-scenes ‘Inside Maus’ that rewards us with insights this reviewer, for one, was too blown away to perceive the first time around…It is nothing less than a treatise on the rhythm and grammar of comics storytelling. The visual vocabulary he utilizes turns out to be more ingenious than you (or I, at least) ever suspected.” –Barnes and Noble review 

MetaMaus will leave even the most ardent admirers of Maus newly in awe of its author's creative courage, ingenuity and stamina.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“When I heard that Pantheon was putting out a commemorative book, I kept forgetting what it was called: was it MegaMaus or MetaMaus? The book, MetaMaus, published this month, is actually both: mega meta…If Maus has been a touchstone for you over the last decades, you have a new way to understand this moving and revolutionary book.” –Studio 360 “Staff Pick”

“If you love Maus, this is the book for you; it’s practically a must-have.” –Comic Book Bin
 
“What do you get for the classic graphic novel that has everything? MetaMaus is the answer… It’s an amazing package, one certainly worthy of awards consideration.” –Comics Waiting Room

MetaMaus is so much more than a companion; it is a true work of genius art and design…This is a companion in the truest terms, a work of art that leaves no stone unturned, or allows for any doubt or question, and for casual readers of the Pulitzer winning book to the most intense of academics or comic book aficionados, it’s a real boon.” –ComicBuzz.com

“The three longest chapters provide nuanced and richly illustrated answers to the questions every reader has probably asked: "Why the Holocaust?" "Why mice?" and "Why comics?" Chute is a skilled and knowledgeable interviewer, Spiegelman a witty, introspective subject, so the process yields insightful observations on the nature of comics, the relationship between reality and narrative, the dynamics of families, and the Holocaust itself.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“a beautiful book, both in visuals and themes, as the writer and artist is interviewed by Hillary Chute about the book that will not die, that he cannot escape, that he wishes would’ve been discovered only after 25 years after his death instead of being talked about for 25 years straight…mind-blowing.” –Bookgasm.com

“A rich, provocative and visually intriguing work of art, memoir and literary history…eye-catching and highly kinetic…a rare opportunity to witness for ourselves how a masterpiece is conceived and comes into existence.” –Jewish Journal gift guide   
 
“A treasure trove, a wonderful way to dive as deeply into this seminal work as you wish…Maus is one of the very few [books] that can live up to this scrutiny, where the creation is strong enough and so thematically rich as to stand up to the examination, and the artist still has new insight to provide.” –ComicsWorthReading.com 
  
“A truly inspiring look at the creative process.” –Forces of Geek Holiday Gift Guide
 
“For the past sixty years, Holocaust survivors have expressed their stories in writing. However, few have revolutionized the way people looked at the Holocaust as much as Maus. In his new autobiography, MetaMaus, Spiegelman takes the reader through the inception, process, and completion of his innovative graphic narrative...perhaps the most enchanting and captivating part of this autobiography is the artwork that enhances each page. The book is filled with Spiegelman’s rough sketches, inspirations, previous work, and even family photos.” –Jewish Book World

“A fascinating look into how art and history are made.” –Sacramento News & Review

“I found myself repeatedly surprised, even shocked, by new information regarding a book I felt pretty confident I knew a lot about already…If anyone wants to argue about the ideal form of books about comics, I think Spiegelman has offered a hell of an opening argument with MetaMaus.” –Comic Book Resources

“I found myself repeatedly surprised, even shocked, by new information regarding a book I felt pretty confident I knew a lot about already…If anyone wants to argue about the ideal form of books about comics, I think Spiegelman has offered a hell of an opening argument with MetaMaus.” –Comic Book Resources
 
“At the risk of ruffling Donald's feathers, it could be argued that Maus, Art Spiegelman's aching Holocaust tale, is as compelling a comics creation as the best of Mickey. MetaMaus details the back story and making of Spiegelman's masterpiece, now 25 years old, and as an invaluable bonus it moves the entire saga onto interactive DVD, with hyperlinked audio commentary, voice recordings of Spiegelman's father, working sketches and essays.” –NPR.org

“The final component of his now legendary Maus epic and a fascinating look into the creative journey Spiegelman undertook to bring it all to light.” –Critical Mob, Critical Books of 2001 

“Contains a wealth of extra material. In addition to the many photos, sketches and art samples throughout the book, an accompanying enhanced DVD contains thousands of sketches, video footage of Auschwitz, an archive of illustrated pamphlets by Polish camp survivors, audio recordings of Spiegelman’s interviews with his late father and—most impressively—the entirety of Maus in an annotated and searchable digital format…It was a comic about horror and survival, and if it had never been we would be all the poorer for its absence.” –New City 
 
“The 300-page full-color hardback and companion DVD abound with source materials…The title transcends footnote: MetaMaus is a work of criticism in itself, providing not only notes on process and sources, but considering the entirety of a family, and the thinking of influences of an artist now and at the time the work was created.” –Art in America Magazine
 
“Opens previously unseen doors in Spiegelman’s iconic text…a pleasure to dip into. Throw in that DVD copy of The Complete Maus, and this truly is the only version of Spiegelman’s graphic memoir that you should ever need. If only we treated all our modern classics so well.” –Culture Mob

Library Journal
"There's a 5000 pound mouse breathing down my neck!" Spiegelman tells us about the book that "both made' [him] and haunted [him] ever since." For 25 years, it's been: Why comics? Why mice? Why the Holocaust? For the silver anniversary of the only graphic narrative to have won a Pulitzer Prize, Spiegelman has created a companion volume about the how and the why, plus transcripts, family history, and the original three-page Maus cartoon—all copiously illuminated with hundreds of drawings, photos, and letters (including rejection letters from major publishers), many in color. An accompanying multimedia DVD provides a complete e-copy of Maus, home movies, audio interviews with father Vladek, thousands of additional sketches and cartoons, essays, more interviews, and still additional material. VERDICT Informative about everything you may or may not have thought to ask about Maus and the Spiegelmans, this exhaustive purgative has been well organized and packaged and succeeds in being grimly entertaining, indeed almost addictive. Required reading for serious students of graphic narrative and students of history, and bargained priced as well.—M.C.
Library Journal
Spiegelman reflects on his creation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, ongoing response to readers, and love for his chosen medium; a DVD helps clarify the visual process. Sure to breed excitement; The Complete Maus (ISBN 9780679406419. $35) releases this October to celebrate the 25th anniversary.
Kirkus Reviews

Everything you ever wanted to know about the creation, impact and aftereffects ofMaus.

The cultural significance of the Pulitzer Prize–winning work by Spiegelman(In the Shadow of No Towers,2004) is beyond dispute. Not only did it establish the critical respectability and mainstream market for what have come to be called "graphic novels," but its unsentimental account of family tragedy and dynamics showed a way that art could deal with death-camp genocide without descending into what the author terms "Holokitsch." On the 25th anniversary of the publication ofMaus I,this volume serves as the publishing industry's version what the music industry markets as a box set—with extended bonus material, contextual analyses and previously unreleased cuts (some 7,500 drawings and sketches are but a small fraction of the offerings on the accompanying DVD). Included within the book are an exhaustive interview with the author by English professor Harriet Chute, shorter (but not short) interviews with his wife and their offspring on the artist and his art, plenty of illustrations from sketchbooks and inspirations, family photos, family trees, rejection letters (from major publishers), the source-material transcript of the author's discussions with his father about the latter's experiences in Auschwitz and Dachau and the original three-page version of "Maus" from 1972 that spawned the two-volume masterpiece. For Spiegelman, the key questions to address (at length) provide chapter titles: "Why the Holocaust?"; "Why Mice?"; "Why Comics?" The answers are intermittently fascinating and often provocative, though only an obsessive or an academic is likely to need a two-page response to the question: "You kept lots of pictures of mice and other animals around while you were working. Which ones were especially significant?" Yet the accompanying DVD will satisfy the insatiable appetite, with "a digital reference copy of The Complete Maus" (with audio and visual links) plus "MetaMeta" supplements that make the printed volume seem like an appetizer.

The power ofMausdoesn't require such exhaustive explanation and annotation, but those with a taste for it will find their appreciation enhanced.

Dan Kois
…richly rewarding…MetaMaus consists primarily of an expansive, fascinating interview with Spiegelman conducted by Hillary Chute, a scholar of contemporary comics…The beautifully designed hardcover also includes abundant archival material, conversations with Spiegelman's wife…and children, and transcripts of his original sessions with [his father] Vladek…This book also serves as a master class on the making and reading of comics, highlighted by Spiegelman's close analyses of dozens of important points in the text.
—The New York Times Book Review
Dwight Garner
Mr. Spiegelman’s new book, MetaMaus, functions as a kind of artist's scrapbook, chapbook, photo album and storage trunk…His publisher calls this shaggily engaging volume, accurately enough, a "vast Maus midrash"…Mr. Spiegelman is charismatic, and the photographs of him sprinkled throughout are pretty delightful.
—The New York Times
The Barnes & Noble Review

Among those of a certain age, is there a soul who doesn't remember how brilliantly Maus lit up the night when it burst upon the scene in 1986? A deeply serious comic strip of the Holocaust before the category of graphic novel was common coin, with Jews depicted as timorous mice and Nazis as bestial cats, Maus was scandalous in concept, jaw-dropping in execution, and, beneath its transgressive exterior, humbling in its rigorous yet gentle understanding of the victims of one of the seismic events of the twentieth century.

Lest you've forgotten any part of this, Maus mastermind Art Spiegelman has published MetaMaus to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the original. And after a quarter of a century, the work still provokes spellbound fascination and anguish in equal measure.

As a fellow member of the so-called Second Generation, or children of survivors, who've written books on the subject so central to our lives, let me attest to how handily the original Maus beat us all to the punch. Spiegelman's first version was actually published fourteen years earlier as a three-page underground strip in 1972. To put it in the proper time frame, this was during an era when the word Holocaust was scarcely spoken in polite society. The general public was locked in ignorance. Survivors were choked by a sort of guilt-by-association shamefulness. The Eichmann trial was only eleven years in the past; the taboo-breaking Holocaust TV miniseries six years in the future. As a measure of how traumatic the events of World War II were, the American Jewish community as a whole remained so shell-shocked that they had barely begun the supernatural task of processing it. Along came Spiegelman's distinctly un-Disney-like hordes of mice to jolt us from our complacence, its first volume (My Father Bleeds History) in 1986 and its second (And Here My Troubles Began) five years later.

Like a director's commentary track, MetaMaus provides a kind of behind-the-scenes "Inside Maus" that rewards us with insights this reviewer, for one, was too blown away to perceive the first time around. It's built on a very distilled and definitive four-year-long interview with "associate editor" Hilary Chute, who deserves more credit than she receives (she's not even listed on the front or back covers) for posing exactly the right questions, such as this one: "Were there times when you felt that perhaps comics wasn't the best medium for your father's story?"

Answer: "I came up against things in Maus that involved imparting general information, and those were the moments when I would despair and think: Well, maybe I should just do something that's a combination of prose and comics, use comics when it's appropriate, and just typeset pages of prose when that seemed appropriate. But that would have been a real cop-out."

And this: "Aside from Expressionism, what aspects of visual or literary modernism have you found productive?"

Answer: "I was interested in the fact that us low artists [i.e.. cartoonists] were the only artists still interested in drawing the human figure when all of modernism was moving away from that."

The book is filled with similar revelations, such as the eccentric nature of Spiegelman's influences. These embrace not only the German-born American artist Josef Albers (his "concern with retinal information rather than drawing per se"), but also "Little Orphan Annie" (which "offered me a more direct validation that comics could actually carry emotional resonance despite, or probably because of, the abstraction of the language and visuals"), as well as Mad magazine pioneer Harvey Kurtzman, whose sensibility Spiegelman credits with radicalizing "what we now think of as humor."

Along the way, Spiegelman provides a glimpse into his years of apprenticeship, as well as a graduate-level course in comics semiotics: not only how eye movement works on the page, frame by frame, but how the graphic architecture serves in specific cases to deliver the narrative. As such, it is nothing less than a treatise on the rhythm and grammar of comics storytelling. The visual vocabulary he utilizes turns out to be more ingenious than you (or I, at least) ever suspected. Who knew, for instance, that on one page the smoke from the narrator's cigarette was meant to be subconsciously seen as smoke from the crematorium in the panel below? (Another throwaway revelation: "I do believe that the self- destructiveness of my smoking is not totally unrelated to the secondhand memories of secondhand smoke" his parents breathed from the crematoria.)

In fact, Spiegelman doesn't so much rapid-fire his replies as he chain-smokes them, one after the other, torching one eye-opener from the spark of the previous. On how he managed to condense such encyclopedic information into two volumes: "Maus could have been ten times longer if I'd just not tried to pack it as tightly." On why he chose this most daunting of topics to begin with: "My work life has mostly consisted of finding the hardest thing I'm capable of doing to placate the Hanging Judge within. I wanted a challenge worth meeting as I turned thirty, and Maus qualified."

(More about that Hanging Judge: "Drawing doesn't come easily to me—maybe I'm lazy like my father always told me I was.")

Most important, he manages to explore the fluidity of the fiction/nonfiction divide that inevitably plagues historic narrative, and to confirm that they are not as easily segregated as naïve commentators would have us believe. Acknowledging that "memory is a very fugitive thing," he cobbles a workable reply to those who insist on its rigidity. "I still puzzle over what fiction and nonfiction really are. Reality is too complex to be threaded out into the narrow channels and confines of narrative and Maus, like all other narrative work including memoir, biography, and history presented in narrative form, is streamlined and, at least on that level, a fiction." To flesh out his point he shares the delicious anecdote of how, before The New York Times Book Review saw the light and acceded to putting the book on the nonfiction side of the bestseller ledger, one benighted editor argued, "Well look, let's go out to Spiegelman's house and if a giant mouse answers the door, we'll move it to the nonfiction side of the list!"

Fortunately, more enlightened minds prevailed. The result has forever helped redefine our attitudes toward history and the art that attends it.

Daniel Asa Rose is the author of the acclaimed Holocaust memoir Hiding Places: A Father and His Sons Retrace Their Family's Escape from the Holocaust , based on a trip he took in 1988, two years after the publication of Maus.

Reviewer: Daniel Asa Rose

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375423949
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 240,383
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Art Spiegelman has been a staff artist and contributing editor at The New Yorker, as well as the cofounder/coeditor of RAW, the acclaimed magazine of avant-garde comics and graphics. In addition to Maus—which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and twice nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award—he is the author of Breakdowns and In the Shadow of No Towers. He lives in New York City with his wife, Françoise Mouly . . . and a cat.
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