Text: “Why ‘Maus’ remains ‘the greatest graphic novel ever written,’ 30 years later”

Extract: “ART SPIEGELMAN didn’t set out to reinvent a swath of his chosen field. He was only trying to tap his family history, even as he sat clear across the country estranged from his New York father, several years after his mother committed suicide.

Spiegelman, having survived a nervous breakdown while living in New York, had set out for San Francisco, where by 1972 he was thriving in the underground comix scene. An assignment came for a three-page comic, and so he decided to emotionally unpack his parents’ Holocaust. His father had survived Auschwitz; could he tap Dad’s harrowing experiences, despite their differences?” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/08/11/why-maus-remains-the-greatest-graphic-novel-ever-written-30-years-later/

Since Maus is based on historical events it could be argued that knowledge gained from it is independent of culture. This argument could also be made about the artistic techniques – if the composition, shading, etc is universal then the knowledge gained from the art is independent of culture.

However, since Art Spiegelman’s WWII graphic novel is draw from the experience of his own family the argument could be made that a full and complete understanding of Maus can only be made by someone who has an understand of the culture that is draws from.

A panel from Art Spiegelman’s “MetaMaus” — a 25th-anniversary “Maus” compendium. ( Art Spiegelman and Pantheon Books)