By Pete Kotz
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By Michael Musto
By Capt. James Van Thach told to Jonathan Wei
By Kera Bolonik
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Pulled Both Ways
As a cartoonist who has won a Pulitzer Prize, I think most of Art Spiegelman's work is great, and Maus was entirely deserving of the Pulitzer. But it's a real shame if he's not using his influence to help younger artists. You have to admit, Ted Rall has guts.
After reading Ted Rall's absurd, untrue and spiteful article, I clapped my hands with glee over my decision last year to refuse the Voice's invitation to publish my comic strip, Maakies. The Village Voice is positioning itself as the true enemy of all cartoonists.
Los Angeles, California
Voice readers will scream bloody murder after reading Ted Rall on Art Spiegelman. They'll say Rall's motivated by jealousy. That's what happens when you criticize Spiegelman. I've written articles putting Art down. People react as if they were sacrilegious.
Rall actually credited Spiegelman excessively. Mausis a seriously flawed work. As a Jew whose parents came from shtetls near Bialystok, whose relatives were slaughtered there, I'm offended by Spiegelman's bullshit, his wrapping himself in a Holocaust flag.
Art aims to make himself Maus's hero. He wants readers to think that henot his father, Vladekis the Holocaust survivor. In one chapter he has his shrink label him "the REAL survivor."
Spiegelman writes like a spoiled teenager, without insight or compassion. He accents the negative in portraying Vladek. In one scene Vladek tells Art he's got a cache of precious stones and metals stashed for him in the event of an emergency, but rather than focusing on his father's concern for him, Art emphasizes the old man's greed in smuggling the stuff out of Europe. When Vladek trashes Art's old coat and gives him a newer oneadmittedly a high-handed actArt acts like he's been mugged.
Art's use of anthropomorphic stereotypes is also objectionable: i.e., his portrayal of Poles, including one who risked her life for his father, as pigs.
Spiegelman's got serious intellectual limitations, which he may label writer's block. He hasn't published a substantial work since Maus, probably because he wants to quit while he's ahead....On second thought, maybe he will do another graphic novel, if he finds his cousins lived on Mars.
In the cartooning business there's no shortage of desperate, scrounging cranks who prefer to blame Black Helicopters or the International Zionist Conspiracy for their lack of financial success, rather than take a sober look in the mirror. One would imagine that as a regular contributor to Time and Fortune, Ted Rall would have been lifted out of those lowest depths of cartoon misery some time ago; maybe Mr. Cranky is just tired of waiting for his New Yorker cover assignment.
Sure, anyone with eyes will tell you that in the Temple of Cartoon Gods, Spiegelman's statue won't be displayed in the Grand Rotunda with those of Crumb, Robt. Williams, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, et al. It will probably stand somewhere on the lower level; in the hallway that leads to the Gift Shop or next to the Pepsi machine in the cafeteria. At any rate, I think it's safe to say Art's statue won't be getting peed on in the Men's Room alongside the marble likeness of Ted Rall.
Of course Spiegelman's not the most accomplished draftsman on the globe; the pared-down artwork in Maus is no more visually appealing than the diagrams one finds in electronics manuals; his New Yorker covers have been somewhat easier on the eyes. So Art's no Botticelli; who among us is? As every cartoonist knows in his heart, there's alwayssomebody more talented, and no cartoonist should know this better than Ted Rall.
If Art's the only cartoonist who gets invited to exclusive publishing biz parties, maybe that's 'cause Art's the only cartoonist who's fit to be seen in public (one hesitates to imagine the stampede that would ensue if a small yellow busload of your average cartoonists were suddenly inflicted on the likes of James Wolcott and Dominick Dunne at Tina Brown's Talk party...oh, the humanity!).
Perhaps Maus is Spiegelman's one-hit wonder; my guess is he won't be placing another Pulitzer on the mantelpiece any time soon. But at least he's got the one, and I think this helps to explain the bug that's vigorously working its way up the hindquarters of the Pulitzer-nominated Rall.
Balls in Rall's Court
Hats off to Ted Rall for the amazing article about the cult of Art Spiegelman! I was a fan of Maus, but I thought Maus II was totally self- serving and diminished the importance of the first book. As a cartoonist, I thought Rall's analysis of Spiegelman's technique was the most honest interpretation of his work I have read to date, and I applaud him for having the balls to state his controversial opinon!
Ted Rall's piece on Art Spiegelman has the tone of every bitter wannabe rant: the only arguable point he makes is that Spiegelman wields influence to hire buddies his own age and keeps "word-obsessed" (?) Gen-X cartoonists on the unemployment line.
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