Down the MAUS Hole…

It has rapidly become clear to me that reading comics was vastly different than other kinds of reading I usually dealt with. Not only must you observe the images and read the words, but figure out the relation of the two, then see the page as a whole. It’s a much longer process than simply registering words into your brain in a systematic order; comics may surprise you at any moment, they are constantly shifting any sort of pattern you think to be consistent.

Because of this, reading half a comic book should take you no less time than reading half a novel of the same length, even if there are less words and lots of pictures. An analysis should be made at every step to fully understand what the author/artist is conveying.

But who are we kidding? We’re college students. We’re lucky if we get all our work done at all, much less dedicate the amount of time each assignment deserves. We might have an all-nighter and remember there’s two chapters due in that class that starts in an hour, so what do we do?

We skim.

Skimming, apparently, is a useful tool here in college, or so I’ve been told. But to do it in comics is like reading the only the introductory paragraph and the conclusion: you might think you know what’s going on, but you’re missing the catch, the real essence that the author wants you to think about.

I’ll openly admit I made the mistake of thinking I knew all I really needed, that is, until this assignment prompted further analysis of two pages of my choice. Narrowing down two entire books into two pages was challenge enough, but to find two pages that not only had some vast significance to the overall story, but also some sort of link, similarity… it seemed too tall an order.

Until something caught my eye.

Right then, I felt as if I were in on a secret, like a code Spiegelman had left behind without expecting anyone come across it.

Then came more time than I care to admit spent tracing these two pages, and even more writing down my observations. I’ve got to say it’s incredible how there are things you won’t discover about a page until you’ve been staring at it for… a certain amount of time (still not going to reveal how long it took me). Everything from Spiegelman’s own influence on Vladek’s narrative to small artistic choices that made the whole page come together… To be honest, this assignment is very clever; I never thought it possible to write five blog posts and one essay on two measly pages. That is, until I became the master of those two pages. Such a master of them, in fact, that they are no longer page 66 from Book 1 and page 136 of Book 2, but one singular unit.

So enjoy your journey through this maze of ideas I’ve drawn (literally) from two pages that probably didn’t take me more than a minute to read the first time around. I’ve got a whole spiderweb of posts interlinking, some leading to several others, and some found only through specific venues. If you get lost, that’s okay! There’s no real order this has to be read in, so hopefully you’ll slowly put the pieces together just as I did!


Rhetorical Analysis

One thought on “Down the MAUS Hole…

  1. First of all, I am so glad I read your rhetorical analysis, for you brought up several points I had not considered before. You did a very good job! I found it interesting that you questioned Spiegelman’s purpose of drawing the story out rather than writing it. I wish you told me more about all the questions you had while reading Maus and how you found your answers. Like you, I also noticed the details Spiegelman put into each individual panels. From just the shapes of a character’s eye we can tell their emotions. One thing you brought up that I have not noticed is the similarities between Vladek and Anja’s reunion. Even though I used the same photo, I focused more on the Spiegelman’s choice of moment instead. I almost thought the two panels from the two books were identical.

    Liked by 1 person

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