by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor
Cartoonist Art Spiegelman recently delivered an informative and laughter-filled lecture at the Allen Theatre on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Spiegelman is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus,” which was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. “Maus,” which was serialized from 1980 to 1991, tells the story of his father telling him about surviving Auschwitz, and they are depicted as mice-people.
Spiegelman lectured on many subjects on Oct. 21, ranging from the history of comics to his work outside of comics, as well as talking about how his work has influenced different social issues.
One of the first topics Spiegelman dabbled in was how he got started cartooning. He quoted the cartoonist who gave him the courage to start doing comic books, saying, “‘It’s only lines on paper, folks.’ I was so thrilled when I read it because it gave me the freedom to just let me flesh out on paper.” But Spiegelman said it was the worst advice he could’ve gotten.
Spiegelman explained that, “comics are also diagrams of time.” He went on to discuss what it might have been like to learn how to draw comics, in general, but also in the 1920s.
“Comics are learned by drawing stereotypes and types,” said Spiegelman. “That’s the way it’s done. So, you’ll learn how to draw the happy face, the sad face, the angry face.”
After this, the lecture gets a little bit more ‘colorful,’ as Spiegelman explained how comics are indeed diagrams of time.
“Or you could get a cartooning book and learn how,” Spiegelman said. “This is one from the ’20s. You learn to draw types. The Gypsy, the Hippie, the Violinist, the Darky, the Kike, the Indian, the Chinaman. And they’re lizard-brain stereotypes; there’s nothing divine about that.”
Before the days of civil rights, racist depictions of people were common. For example, the Darky depicts black people as having very apelike features. In Spiegelman’s next topic, he talked about why artists could draw racist depictions of minorities.
Spiegelman said he is often asked “why mice?” He tries to answer it in different ways, including in his book, “Meta Maus,” but he sums it up as best he can.
“The Germans thought of the Jews as subhumans,” Spiegelman said. “When you have subhumans, you’re free to kill them. The Jews weren’t murdered; they were experimented on. They were vermin, right?”
Spiegelman also talked about his time at the New Yorker when he drew covers for the magazine. The cartoonist spoke about a controversial cover he did of a Hasidic Jewish man kissing a black woman. Spiegelman said people would say things such as, “Why didn’t you have a black man kissing a Hasidic woman?” Spiegelman followed up with, “This was the most noise you could make over something before the Internet.”
Spiegelman changed the model of the New Yorker covers in his time there, something he says he is very proud of. He drew a cover during President Bill Clinton’s term where the press is pointing their microphones at Clinton’s crotch area. Spiegelman also drew a cover during President Barack Obama’s election, depicting President Obama in Middle Eastern clothing and the American flag in the fire place in a satirical tone.
Spiegelman set the stage for comics having the ability to present serious issues, changed the formula of the New Yorker covers, and delivered an amazing lecture at Texas Tech University.