Maus is one of the deeper comics I’ve read in that there’s a lot to it both with the characters and with the story. It feels a little cliche though, maybe because the whole idea of the cartoonized “Holocaust story” has become another trope like the “Christmas Special,” or the “Holloween Episode.” My biggest problem with Maus isn’t with the wrting, or the art – the comic definitely excels in those departments with deep interesting dialogue and and narration and simple, appealing designs. My problem is with the concept of the holocaust story itself. Everyone know’s the plot. The nuances of the ending might not be obvious, but outcome of the events that will take place in the story are already known. The “bad guys,” are set in stone – we’re not being invited to question who is at fault. And all of the main characters, by comparison, seem flawless.
Maus wasn’t enough for me. The story isn’t some vague allusion to word war II, it is clearly about world war II. The characters are all animals, but only visually – none of their animal qualities come through in their characters.
I liked the interaction of the old father and his son – I got an especially good chuckle when the father threw out his sons jacket and gave him a “better” one. Overall though, I can’t say the story had much of an impact on me. I did feel for the characters, but the feeling that the whole purpose of the novel was for me to empathize with the characters and gain a renewed appreciation for the people that suffered through the holocaust left me with a strange, unsettled feeling, and the fact that the author chose to communicate that with such a heavy-handed story ruined it for me a little.
If I was asked to make a parallel between Maus and my own life, I would mention my own father, who's stories from Ghana, though sparse, often seemed worthy of their own novel. Much like the father character from Maus, my own dad often had a way of making extracting stories from him painfully frustrating. In a way though, this made them more interesting; that they had to be extracted was probably what made them stories and not just lectures. You can see this same affect in Maus. The main character spends a of time badgering his father to keep talking and to stay on topic, but the fathers reluctance to talk is often what makes the stories so interesting.