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TRIAD Understanding Comics Chapter 2 w/ Maus

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Logan Herschbach

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of TRIAD Understanding Comics Chapter 2 w/ Maus

analysis of Maus with The Vocabulary of Comics
Abigail Schroeter & Logan Herschbach
The
icon
is one of the most important aspects in comics.

Essentially, an icon is another word for a symbol (McCloud 27).
Like a symbol, the form of an icon can drastically vary (McCloud 27).

When analyzing
Maus
, the use icon is present throughout the story in different forms.
For example, one of the most common icons in
Maus
is the swastika.

The swastika would be considered a
conceptual
or
philosophical
icon (McCloud 27).
Icons can take the form of
language
or
communication
as well (McCloud 27).

Notice how Vladek uses an almost iconic form of
language
in the story (Spiegelman 52)
.
However, the
iconic

picture
representations of race and nationality in
Maus
are the most important icons (McCloud 28).
Jewish mice
Polish pigs
Nazi cats
(Spiegelman 46)
(Spiegelman 49)
The characters in
Maus
are drawn in a minimalistic style that allows for more universal
reader identification
(McCloud 36)
.

However, the
funny animals
approach to characterization and the linear storyline limit universal identification at the same time!

This allows for readers to identify more with the characters, but not
become
the characters (McCloud 36).

McCloud 29
Spiegelman does this in order to limit the reader's influence on the storyline because he is trying to give his audience the most accurate story possible.


McCloud 27
McCloud 25
This allows the reader to feel the
IMPACT
of the emotions, like fear, that Vladek and all the Jews feel,
BUT
At the same time, the reader feels
sympathy
for the Jews, an emotion separate from those felt by the Jews, and retains his/her own
identity
to consider what he would have done in a situation like the Holocaust.
In other words,
the reader
must consider the story and reach his or her own conclusions, like
Our differences do not make us any less human
Genocide affects everyone (i.e. Poles), not just those being persecuted
Fate is cruel
And More!
Themes!
This One
relates directly back to
Because
Speigelman's different animals
amplify
the differences between
the "people"
(Spiegelman 46)
(Spiegelman 46)
(Spiegelman 49)
Obviously NOT
the same
Even though the differences that
separate them are actually
very small - the doctrine
they choose to follow - ...
And aren't really physical at all!
Thus using the medium + a little thinking...
Spiegelman demonstrates the mental block that we, as humans, have about people who are different than us that leads to slavery, genocide, etc.!
This lack of English mastery reminds the reader that this is more than just a story, but is
real
.
A Note About Color
Because he uses animal shapes to keep us from becoming his characters, Spiegelman risks
isolating
his audience.
But according to McCloud, we pay more attention to the physical shape of pictures when they are in
color
(McCloud 189). So...
Spiegelman ropes us back in by using

Black

and
White.
The animal shapes are impossible to ignore (and, as we have discussed, are very important),
BUT
By not putting the forms in
color
, we see them as a general trend, not a divisive issue, keeping us involved with the story but still cognizant of the icons.
(Spiegelman 49)
Woah that's a cat!
}
Looks human enough because of the human qualities and lack of color.
(Spiegelman 46)
Notably, Maus I lacks an abundance of recognizable icons
(Spiegelman 45)
No Well Known Icons
(Spiegelman 125)
The Star of David
(Spiegelman 83)
The two notable exceptions
This leads to the conclusion that Spiegeleman wanted to distance himself from other symbol-filled
Holocaust accounts and remind his reader that, despite the underestimated
comic form (this acts partially to counteract such notions),
this was someone's story; it makes us forget our preconceived notions and simply consider what is put before us.
In the World of Comics,
there exists a world
of concepts and a
world of senses. (McCloud 39)
Much of Maus exists in the world of Concepts:
Abstraction vs. Reality
Throughout the story of
Maus
, the imagery is very iconic in nature.

However, Spiegelman occasionally uses non-iconic and nondescript visuals.
Essentially, some of Spiegelman's panels are presented using a more
abstract
style.
The World of Senses uses realism to portray the beauty and complexity of the physical world (McCloud 41).
This style is even applied to the
background
of panels that use iconic, non-abstract characters.
(Spiegelman 23)
This does not mean that
Maus

is
realistic though.

Spiegelman focused less on reality and more on
language
.
(Spiegelman 131)
Shape of a
frame,
No picture.
General cigarette
form.
The Swastika
General form of a cup
General face form (eyes, ears, nose,
mouth, no real distinguishing factors)
However
Some
of Maus exists in the realm of senses.
This world of senses helps readers become a character and enter the world of sensual stimuli.
These panels occur when Spiegelman wants us to integrate with his characters; we need to feel what they felt to become engrossed in the action.
We are the character.
This is the last panel of Vladek's story, the time of hopeless entry into the death camps. Spiegelman wants his reader to feel the hopelessness and despair that all the jews entering the death camps felt.
OR...
See very little of
character
See mostly
background,
emphasizes
the quick decisions
being made on the
battlefield by making
the reader become
the character
As a result, most backgrounds
are generic, with simple patterns
for style.
Works Cited
Which emphasizes the story happening in the foreground.
DETAIL ALL IN THE
BACKGROUND!
Meaning or language
The Meaning of the work as a whole...
Maus
Spiegelman, Art. Maus I: My Father Bleed's History. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1986. Print.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994. Print.

Less abstract
More abstract
All of this contributes to...
(McCloud 45)
Maus focuses on Idea/Purpose (McCloud 181);
it uses all of these elements to manipulate
the reader into feeling some parts of the
story and thinking about others.
McCloud 51
The world of Concepts uses the lack of emphasis
on physical appearance to draw attention to the story within (McCloud 41).
McCloud 53
The Idea, of course, is to create
a biography, and it is here that our ability to extend our identity outward comes into play, though it is not the reader who must extend his identity, but Spiegelman and, through him, his father.
(Spiegelman 61)
(Spiegelman 100)
(McCloud 39)
Vladek's story becomes an
extension of both his life,
yielding the title "My Father
Bleeds History," and of Art's
relationship to his father.

We, as the readers, become more
attached to the story, and therefore
the plight of all the Jews, and become
receptive to the messages Spiegelman
is sending through this simplified but reader involved medium because we give the story
LIFE
(McCloud 59)
.

That is because Maus focuses more on the
story
rather than the artwork.
Spigelman puts more emphasis on the language and meaning over reality because he wants to tell the story as
accurately
as possible.

This relates back to the reason Spiegelman limits character identification as well.
Note: Reality in this case is not synonymous with factual.
(McCloud 43)
Full transcript