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Open Right

Bernard Caleo: Talking MAUS

Session Info:

  • MAUS is on the VCE English text list
  • The comics medium was born and evolved over the 20th century – it’s a young art form (not a genre)
  • In MAUS, Art Spiegelman uses what had been considered a ‘low’ artform to investigate one of the worst horrors of the 20th century – the Holocaust.

I am a comic book maker, publisher and educator. When MAUS appeared as a book in 1986 (which had been a remarkable year for comics already), it changed comics, and what people thought was appropriate content for comics.

I enjoy discussing MAUS and exploring it as one of the most significant texts about one of the most terrible events of the 20th century. MAUS uses the oldest form of writing – picture writing – to describe a dark thing from humanity’s past. Is that appropriate? I think so.

Topics Covered

  • Art Spiegelman’s family and artistic background, and how the MAUS project began
  • The comics anthology called RAW that Art and Francoise Mouly published, which serialised MAUS
  • The comics context within which MAUS appeared
  • The reception of MAUS – Pulitzer Prize etc
  • The analysis of pages of MAUS – ways to approach reading and thinking about the text
  • Spiegelman’s work post-MAUS
  • Spiegelman’s work as a theorist of comics

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