might want to put a "read more after the jump" in that one...
I still remember the first Spiegelman comic I read, and where I was standing when I picked it up. It was clear early on that he was exploring deep meta territory, and he made it to the A list pretty quickly with the intricacies of Ace Hole and his exploration of humor itself in Arcade. Even so, I wasn't prepared for Maus.
Well, who could be?
Artie is a very nice guy and MAUS is brilliant... but honestly, that's about it for his career. He's been instrumental as a comics (sorry, comix) advocate, but between The Wild Party, Narrative Corpse, and In the Shadow of No Towers, he's waaaaaay more style than substance. I was a huge fan for a while, and slowly came to realize that all his self-conscious, "meta" stuff was pretty much just academic, overly-intellectualized fluff. He will forever inhabit a vital place in comic history, but this retrospective only serves to underscore how little quality work he's actually produced.
He did introduce me to Jack Survives however, so all is forgiven. Because, you know, he gives a shit what I think.
G-d save us all from thinking about things.
I like to think about things. It is not possible to academically (or otherwise) over-intellectualize stuff for me. (Doesn't mean I'm going to understand it, or come close to the meaning the authorial intent may have intended to mean (if such a thing as authorial intent (perish the thought!) even exists (or matters (because, you know, f--k the author. This text now belongs to me. It's sitting here in front of me and [looks around] I don't see no stinkin' author anywhere about trying to take it back)).). But why should that stop my enjoyment or appreciation?)
What is it about the hot-house atmosphere of Topps, anyway? They nurtured both Spiegelman and Mark Newgarden.
I like thinking about things, too. There's a difference between giving you something to think about, and giving you four paragraphs of multi-syllable words that fail to provide any ideas worth mulling over. Art's work is all pretty much about his neurotic obsession with himself. Maus went further than that, tapping into a global experience we could all relate to. Most everything else is the opposite; No Towers, for example, was page after page of Art telling us he thought the world was ending- talk about myopic. In fact, most of his stuff is myopic to the extreme. If you get something out of that, great. But I doubt most of it would have ever found a publisher if it didn't have Art Spiegelman's name on it.
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