MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman

I've had a copy of Art Spiegelman's MetaMaus gathering dust on my to-be-read bookshelf for almost three years now. I have always hesitated to review it, believing that Spiegelman's most devoted fans probably leapt upon it like starving lions the moment it was published, and suspecting that it would be of little interest to anyone else. I still think that's true, frankly, but as more universities and high schools assign Maus in their classrooms, it seems increasingly possible there will be a non-fan-driven demand for an in-depth look at the process behind Spiegelman's work.

The bound section of MetaMaus offers a collection of interviews, sketches by the artist, and an assortment of Holocaust-related photographs and imagery. It's like a wordy, often stomach-churning scrapbook, detailing both Spiegelman's creative process and the family history that inspired his Pulitzer Prize-winning work. The book includes a DVD that features a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus, an archive of audio interviews, and yet more artwork taken from Spiegelman's notebooks and sketches.

If you're here, as I suggested above, because your history professor is requiring you to read Maus and you're wondering if it's worth it to shell out $35 for enough background material to churn out a truly magnificent essay, the answer is yes—with conditions. MetaMaus offers far more in-depth information than any casual literature or history student could possibly require, so I'd save this sucker for something major, like a term paper. If you're an art student looking for insight regarding the comic-creation process, this might be of interest, but I suspect much of Spiegelman's information is too personal in nature to be of general use. And, of course, if you're a diehard Maus fan who somehow missed out on this when it was first published? Happily for you, this is still in print, so you won't be reduced to mortgaging your house to secure a copy on eBay.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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