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February 28, 2010



Note, however, that the Speigelman character has the mouse mask over his face, indicating that it's not necessarily his real "everyday" identity--as a late-20th century American. So to an extent he's trying to tell the readers that his relationship with the story's narrative is something he's consciously putting on, perhaps to find an older ethnic connection in gathering information when he talks to his grandfather.


His father, yes?

I think the mask is more of a reflection that this is not the Artie who's compiling Vladek's story but the post-Maus I Spiegelman, the one who's become famous for telling his father's story and is now wracked with guilt over that on top of everything else. I would say the mask embodies his newfound, unsought media image, but everybody in "Time Flies" wears a mask, even Pavel, so I'm not sure it's anything so specific--more likely just a means of placing this interlude at one ontological remove from the rest of the story, a way of indicating that we're in the world "outside" the comic. (Although, as always with Spiegelman's visual metaphors, the masks also sabotage this separation by reminding us that this representation is just as artificial, if not more artificial, than the baseline story with the anthropomorphic mice.)


It's truly an odd way of phrasing it, and don't think these readings are wrong, but I always read that scene mostly in the context of the "where it was safe" phrase. That is, Richieu didn't survive, Anya ultimately didn't survive, and Vladek was permanently damaged. So Artie living a safe and "normal" life in Rego Park became, in some way, the point or goal of all the family's suffering and loss, thus making him, from Vladek's pov, the "real" survivor. I'm not entirely satisfied with that reading either, but there it is.


It's been a very, very long time since I last read Maus thanks to it's long association with tedious, predictable, ill informed and downright stupid articles in the broadsheets about comic books and (excuse me while I vomit) graphic novels. Now that it's lost some of that baggage I'd like to give it a go again.

Thanks for reminding me that it exists and that it's probably a lot better than so many of the words that have been written about it.

Kevin J. Maroney

I think the last page of MAUS demonstrates the endlessly complicated undercuttings of the work.

We get that photo of the "real" Vladek Spiegelman, not as a mouse but as a human being, breaking through the layers of unreality. Even leaving aside all the questions of representation in art, the photo is inauthentic, a posed shot, an unsettling photograph of a recreation.

Despite this distance, the photo is Art reaching out to us, the reader, saying, "Here's my father, really" at the same time that Artie finally starts to forgive his father for being such a pain. It's a shockingly sentimental panel in a work which has been driven mostly by anger and confusion.

And then Art immediately undercuts the warmth by having Vladek mistake Artie for Richieu. Was Artie just a body donor for his late brother? Was there ever any connection there?


I don't think Spiegelman undercut the warmth with that panel at all. Vladek was on his deathbed when he called Artie Richieu. He was an old, ailing man; it happens. The last time I saw my grandmother, she mistook me for my father. I didn't take that as a slight.

If anything undercuts the warmth it's Vladek's insistence, contrary to everything we know about Anja's life and death, that "We were both very happy, and lived happy, happy ever after." But Artie and Art both let Vladek keep his cherished illusions, his happy ending. At the end of book one, Artie is sulking and calling his father a murderer; at the end of book two he's letting all the little slights go. That still seems pretty warm to me.

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