I read my first graphic novel!
Ever since I heard of Art Spielgelman's Maus, I have been intrigued by the concept of telling the story of the holocaust in the form of a graphic novel, casting the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, and the Poles as...pigs. (I don't think that was intended to be entirely insulting. It could just be because Poles eat a lot of pork, and didn't eat kosher.)
All of the events in the story took place fairly close to where I live, and I wonder how readers fare who aren't sure how Sosnowiec and Czestochowa should be pronounced?
The story itself is such a common one (if you have read much holocaust literature), that it would almost seem stale if it were not so horribly true. Six million Jews...possibly two million Poles...and every one of them with an individual story that could break your heart. But the details are so familiar...I think Art Spiegelman drew his story in a fresh way in part to give it a new impact.
I'm going to be perfectly honest and admit that the pictures didn't "make" the story for me. Maybe I don't know how to read comics, or graphic novels. I found myself reading the words, and glossing over the pictures.
Maus tells more than the story of how Mr. Spiegelman's parent's managed to survive in Poland from 1941 to 1944, when they were betrayed and sent to Auschwitz. It also portrays the way in which the experience continued to affect them to the end of their lives, and how it affected their relationship with their son born after the war. This aspect of the story lends depth and perspective to the tale, and it was that part of the story that made the strongest impression on me. I also enjoyed the fact that Vladek Spiegelman tells his story in somewhat broken English. It sounded very authentic.
If I have the chance, I will read the sequel (Maus II) to this story, but otherwise, I think my first graphic novel will probably be my last. I prefer words...