Artistic Differences Between Maus and Prisoner on the Hell Planet

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I have to be honest with everyone - this is one of the first comic books I have ever read.  I've never been into Spiderman or Batman and anime has never been my cup of tea.  When I was much younger I read an Archie comic book once.  I always thought that comic books were supposed to be funny or political.  I guess that's a stereotype now since manga and anime (are they the same thing?) are so popular.  I didn't know what to think of Maus.  It was like a foreign book sitting on the shelf, but I'm really glad that it was an assigned reading.  I feel like a more open-minded person towards the entire genre now.  At first glance, I was even insulted that a cartoon artist would use the Holocaust as material because it's such a serious, painful topic. 

 I had a hard time understanding why Spiegelman used so many exclamation points during Prisoner on the Hell Planet.  I don't think they were necessary or appropriate.  I'm glad that the rest of the book has a different illustration style and tone, because I had a difficult time feeling sympathy for the main character in this comic.  The illustrations made me feel like the artist wasn't taking the tragedy of the situation seriously enough.  Of course everyone was sad - but they seemed like zombies, not like a husband and son mourning over the loss of a family member.  The title even seemed inappropriate.  I feel like "[I'm a] Prisoner on the Hell Planet" is something a preteen would scream at his parents when they won't let him borrow the car.  Maybe someone who has read more comic books than me can explain to me why I feel this way?  I don't know why the two comics are so different...I can't put my finger on why I like the other better.  Any suggestions?  


1 Comments

Melissa Schwenk said:

I felt the same way you felt about this comic. I’ve read a few comics, but nothing like this book. It really was surprising to pick up the book and realize it was about the Holocaust. It wasn’t something I was expecting to find. I was thinking more heroic (not that surviving the Holocaust isn’t heroic in itself), but something like Batman or Spiderman.

I didn’t really enjoy the style of the Hell Planet comic, but I took it to be that Art Spiegelman was really upset about the situation with his mother. I’m pretty sure this was also one of his earlier comics because he said “it appeared in an obscure underground comic book. [He] never thought Vladek would see it” (99) illustrating that he was probably just starting out in his career. Either way, the style was probably intentional to try to get the reader to empathize with the pain he was feeling about everything. Plus, when you lose someone right after you are kind of in a haze or “zombie” like state of mind as you said the characters seemed. That could have been something that he was intentionally trying to portray by making this comic.

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