The inspiration for this comic is just based off of a random thought I had earlier this week. I wanted to make a humorous narrative so I made it about how it would be funny if the stereotypical “trench coat disguising two people” went a step further. The hardest part of making this comic was the actual drawing of it. I’m not much of a drawer, so the last frame was particularly difficult to draw. Making this comic was completely different from any other writing assignment I’ve had this semester because it forced me to think about how I could represent the narrative visually.
I based this on an actual conversation I had with someone in high school. I was the character that was “above ego”. I enjoy poking fun at people who take themselves too seriously, because I was always a kid who took things too seriously and a lot of my sense of humor has developed from learning to make fun of myself for it.
In terms of art style- I wanted it to be kind of quirky and simplistic looking with a few bold colors. I wanted The last panel in this triptych to be a larger panel, because I wanted the two characters to appear smaller, and less significant. I thought this would serve to accentuate the humor.
I found Chapter 2 of Maus 2 difficult to read due to various reasons. Art Spiegelman’s quote: “The comix I like, and try to do, can be read slowly and often…. I try to make every panel count and sometimes work as long as a month on a page…. I’m excited by the ‘secret language’ of comics — the underlying formal elements that create the illusions” makes it clear to me why I experienced difficulties while reading the chapter. Perhaps, one reason is that as he worked as long as a month on a page, he was improving and completing it, making even more detailed and complicated to read. I caught myself on a thought that sometimes I felt that I missed some events and I did not understand what was happening and needed to go back to read the page again. Probably I was reading it faster than he wanted his audience to read because he included too many events and key points, and all of them deserve to be noticed. Another factor was that the events and violence described by Spiegelman are psychologically hard to absorb and think about.
The Hillary Chute quote “Comics, in fact, is a medium that involves a substantial degree of reader participation to stitch together narrative meaning” really applies to this chapter of Maus. Reading this chapter gave us an insight of Artie’s life after his father died and how he continued writing the book. The stretch of time right after the passing of his father was rough for Artie, as he was being flooded with book deals and movie prospectors and the whole gamut of Hollywood big wigs trying to get the “Next Big Thing”. Artie seemed depressed and anxious during this time, as he was soon to be a father himself. However, his own father’s shadow lingered over him making him seem almost guilty or remorseful. Artie’s portrayal of himself in the novel also shrinks, his mouse representation gets physically smaller and he mentions he does not want to be a grown up anymore. All of these factors really require a lot from the reader to correctly interpret what is going on. We are required to piece together all of Artie’s thoughts and feelings to really get the whole picture of what is happening to him emotionally. When Artie goes to see Pavel, we learn that the reason Artie feels guilty is because he doesn’t want to be more successful than his father. He believes that living through Auschwitz was the epitome of “success” and doesn’t want to overshadow his father’s accomplishments. In a dark and twisty world this mindset makes sense.
“The comix I like, and try to do, can be read slowly and often…. I try to make every panel count and sometimes work as long as a month on a page…. I’m excited by the ‘secret language’ of comics — the underlying formal elements that create the illusions” (24)
I think sometimes the details in the panels can be overlooked. Readers may miss the hidden meaning because of how minute the elements of the comic are. The masks are an obvious ‘secret language,’ however it’s details like the string that holds them to their face that you have to seek out. I wonder why the string on the masks appears in part II of Maus. Maybe it signifies an act or how people don’t always identify as what they are, they can take off their mask easily as opposed to it being something that’s apart of them. There are many ways to interpret this. One thing that I thought of was how, today, people in America who are 2nd or 3rd generation don’t cling to their nationality or religion as heavily. At least for Jews, there was a study done in I believe 2013 where it showed that 1 in 5 Jews describe themselves as having no religion.
Richard McGuire’s Here is a very complex comic to follow compared to “Maus”. Given that comics, as said in “Why Comics”, “involves a substantial degree of reader participation to stitch together narrative meaning”, the complexity of the panels is positively related to the degree of focus and dedication one must have to the text. In the case of “Maus”, time changes tend to be relatively frequent, but are introduced in a relatively simplistic fashion, not changing time-frame more than two times in one go; however, “Here” presents multiple time frames in the span of just a few panels, and at times, two completely different and unrelated timeframes in a singular panel. “Here”‘s overabundance of timeframes also, in my personal opinion disrupts the comic’s “‘all-at-onceness,’ or its ‘symphonic effect'”, because I am not able to derive much sense of the comic by analyzing its general picture before starting to read. However, in “Maus”, glancing over the page before reading it and admiring its ‘all-at-onceness’ gives you a general sense of what’s to come, preparing your mind to read the text.
While reading Maus, it flows like a story. A reader would never expect how much alterations and tedious work went into the pattern of the panels of this graphic novel. While it seems as though it could have been written paragraph by paragraph in a flowing manner, Art Speigelman admits to have put everything into ever detail of the pattern. Since there is such a difference between how this was written and how it is read, this must be why it takes “reader participation” to read this text. Readers are the ones who have the text flow as a story. It is so interesting how perfectly Art places the transitions between Vladeks story and the modern panels that Art is actually present in.
Art Spiegelman talks about the “secret language of comics” and how they create illusions with formal elements. This can be seen in the very first chapters of his second volume of Maus. The first volume is a straightforward narrative. The only surreal element that is tied in is the comic that Art wrote when he was younger. However, in the beginning of this second volume he starts the very first chapter with a visual metaphor for his depression. He shows himself and other characters wearing masks of the animals that he has been drawing. And he shows himself regressing into childhood as he is asked to take on more responsibility and spearhead efforts to commercialize his father’s story.
This sequence, especially the masks, is very powerful and very hard to imagine in a medium without some visual component. Spiegelman does not explain the masks, and we are left to wonder what they could mean within the visual vocabulary of the book. It would be harder to describe this sequence in words without giving away his intention altogether, and as Spiegelman says, he likes comics that can be read “slowly and often”. This sequence especially almost requires a re-read, and so through the medium of comics, he has achieved this aim.
Art Spiegelman: “The comix I like, and try to do, can be read slowly and often…. I try to make every panel count and sometimes work as long as a month on a page…. I’m excited by the ‘secret language’ of comics — the underlying formal elements that create the illusions” (24)
I think that this quote is similar to what comic stands for. In my experience, comics are read fast. You want to go to next page soon as possible since you want to see more action. But comics aren’t made for you to see a bunch of actions. These are made by people who want to convey their narrative visually. Sure if the panel has a lot of detail, it might be flashy, but they could also try to show the details of the story. Like in Maus where panels with most features are the ones that are interesting that one must read slowly to digest the content.
“This is sometimes called comic’s ‘all-at-onceness,’ or its ‘symphonic effect.’ In comics, reading can happen in all directions; this open-endedness, and attention to choice in how one interacts with the pages, is part of the appeal of comics narrative”
Especially in Maus part II many of the pages when you first open then stand out by themselves. The attention in these pages will most likely interest the reader in the page as a whole other then individual panels. For example, page number 51 is one that stands out a lot because in the center piece you have an aerial view of auschwitz. This page is a great example of the “all-at-onceness” that is mentioned in the quote because the most likely scenario that takes place when reading this page is starting from the center and then move out. Or immediately at the start of chapter two. You will probably start looking at the big image of the flies in the bottom and then go up from there. This idea in comics that you don’t have to read from left to right. This is something that is really exemplified in Maus.