I’ve been following the news around the school board in Tennessee that banned the teaching of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. I first read Maus back when it was being serialized in Raw in the early 80s. So I guess I read it when I was in high school, a little older than those eighth-graders in Tennessee. I don’t remember much about how it affected me at that age, but I do know that it was the most concrete and specific material I read on the Holocaust to that point. I’m sure I knew something about it, but I don’t remember it being covered much in history class. I think most of my knowledge of WW2 came from Hogan’s Heroes reruns and G.I. Combat comics.
Something like Maus would never have been assigned as school reading when I was growing up. Comics just weren’t taken seriously at that time. I’m fairly certain that there were no graphic novels at all in our school library. But now, we live in a world where assigning Maus as school reading probably seems reasonable to a lot of fairly mainstream people. But still not to the kind of people who find themselves on a school board in Tennessee, unfortunately. It’s actually kind of heartening that this thing is national news, and has stirred up some debate and gotten Art Spiegelman some new mainstream media attention.
Speaking of which, I saw Whoopi Goldberg’s appearance on Colbert from Monday night, but hadn’t heard about her comments on her TV show earlier on Monday, so I didn’t quite have the context on what she was apologizing for. But I could tell she wasn’t doing a very good job of it. I’ve generally thought of Goldberg as being mostly harmless and mildly amusing. She probably shouldn’t be talking about the Holocaust though. She clearly didn’t mean any harm. I’m not going to criticize her, other than to say that maybe this is an example of why more people should be reading Maus.
Getting back to Maus, I followed some links and found myself reading about Spiegelman’s MetaMaus book that came out in 2011. I remember reading about it when it came out, but I didn’t buy it. I really should have; it was $35 when it came out, and it’s going for more than $1000 now. In addition to the original Raw issues, I have the first Maus book in paperback, and the second volume in hardcover. (The hardcover version of Maus II goes for $300 on Amazon right now, so I guess that’s out of print.)
It might be a good time to reread Maus, but of course it’s not a casual read. If The Complete Maus were available digitally, I’d probably buy a copy, just to have one, but no version of Maus is (legally) available digitally, as far as I can tell. All the attention of course has made Maus a bestseller on Amazon, which is nice, but it also means you can’t easily buy a new copy right now.