When the German translation of Maus was published in 1987, an aggressive reporter asked Art Spiegelman: “Don’t you think that a comic book about Auschwitz is in bad taste?” He replied: “No, I thought Auschwitz was in bad taste.” Nothing could be further from the abysmal genre of “Holokitsch”, as Spiegelman calls it, than his comic-strip history of his parents’ survival in the place he calls “Mauschwitz”. If you don’t believe that a comic, by definition, can deliver the full load of tragic truth, by representing Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, and Poles as pigs then it may be time, 25 years on from its original publication, for you to read Maus yourself. MetaMaus, Spiegelman’s retrospective reflections in textual and graphic form on how he came to write Maus, is a wonderfully obsessional book in its own right, and may be a perfect point of entry for the uninitiated. You get a CD containing the two-volume original strip and you get a trip, and I use the word advisedly, around the fabulously and curiously stocked attic that is Spiegelman’s brain.
more from Simon Schama at the FT here.