Graphic artist Art Spiegelman on Maus, politics and 'drawing badly' squib

Forty years on from ‘the first masterpiece in comic-book history’, the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist talks fame, switching styles and why he doesn’t want to draw Trump

Early in the second volume of Maus – the graphic novel about the Holocaust that made Art Spiegelman’s reputation – he includes a passage showing the reaction to the publication of volume one. The artist is sitting at his drawing board, perched atop a mountain of dead bodies, as a succession of importunate reporters crowd in bombarding him with questions: “Okay... let’s talk about Israel...” “Could you tell your audience if drawing Maus was cathartic? Do you feel better now?”

As the questions come in, he struggles to answer – “A message? I dunno...” “Who am I to say?” – and over the course of the following panels shrinks to the size of a toddler, marooned in his writing chair. “I want... ABSOLUTION. No... No... I want... I want... my MOMMY! WAH!” The reporters vanish, and mini-Spiegelman confesses: “Sometimes I just don’t feel like a functioning adult.”

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