Maus Blog Post
Worth a Thousand Words
This is the first graphic novel we have read in class, and although it is not my first graphic novel, I am continually amazed at the depth of the meaning that can be taken from the combination of words and images in every frame. I think that graphic novels have had a negative connotation to them in the past, but as more have been turned into films there has been a shift in perspective. No longer are graphic novels being considered as content-less comics but as worthy works of literature (and arguably art) that can convey really deep and important messages.
Maus is a great example of a very serious subject matter being portrayed via graphic novel. There are many layers to Spiegelman's story; the relationship he has with his father, the relationship he has with his own past, and the relationship that he has and is trying to come to terms with in his father's past to just name a few. I think that the graphic novel can be a more accessible medium for readers when talking about difficult topics like the holocaust. Just like Spiegelman uses the mask to distance himself from the book for his own sanity, the informal ton of the graphic novel allows the reader to become submerged in the content with little risk; you go as far as your mind will take you. There is a lot of imagery and symbolism in every page of Maus; whether the reader sees it or not is completely up to them and their willingness to be submerged into Spiegelman's mind. Obviously, this depth can also be found in novels (take C.S. Lewis for example), however, I think that the necessity of interpreting of images makes the connection that much more personal. Just like a novelist has a choice to make about each word or phrase or paragraph so does the graphic novelist about every caption and every image in each frame. The images on 79, 95, and 116 are all examples of how images can portray just as powerfully (if not more-so) the emotion and tension that Spiegelman and his father experienced.
I reluctantly agree that the graphic novel will most likely become the new favorite medium for my generation. A part of me still clings onto the form of the classic novel but in an age of images and status updates instead of newspapers I think that the literature will continue to travel as each generation does.
I never expected to learn so much about myself from this class. By examining the ways in which one can travel, literature can travel, and how we travel via literature I discovered that I am no strange to travel, and not just the physical kind. I have traveled through my experiences at Loyola and in the tradition of Jesuit Education. I also never would have guessed that I would learn so much about my classmates; we have a lot in common. From debates about form, to modern music, and our own generation I was pleasantly surprised at the vastness of our opinions on such topics and that ultimately on most topics I was never alone. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and creating an environment (with the help of Frozen Yogurt) that I could feel save sharing personal stories in. The discussion that each student brought to the table made it that much easier to go to class every day. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.