Rall Nerve

Readers react en-Maus to attack on Spiegelman

That gripe not being much in the way of ammo for an ad hominem attack, Rall feebly goes after Spiegelman's work to the extreme of deriding Maus as merely based on a story told by Spiegelman's dad. Has Rall transformed his pop's anecdotes into anything as bracing and potent as Maus? And would Rall really prefer the top-hatted gentleman peering though his pince-nez to Spiegelman's faux-provocative New Yorker covers?

Spiegelman's high-handedness can rankle. But Rall seems to have no more estimable beef than his desire to Hoover up some of Spiegelman's fancy gigs. (Who else but a disgruntled cartoonist would fantasize about who gets to eulogize Charles Schulz after his death?) The gripes of the thwarted do not an exposé make.

Matthew Wilder
Los Angeles, California

Snow Jobs

I'm so happy to find out that I'm not the only one who is sick of Art Spiegelman. His lame drafts man ship and unoriginal ideas stink up the covers of The New Yorker—his snowman ogling the bikini babe being the quintessential example. I always suspected that his success was another instance of a mediocrity using political skills to get ahead. Thanks for confirming it for me.

Nancy McClernan
Weehawken, New Jersey

Spat It Out

Ted Rall needs to relax. It is as though he had just got into an emotional spat with a lover. Talk about taking something personally. Art Spiegelman is an amazing artist. And, hell, what is wrong with self-promotion? If Rall's so upset about that, maybe he shouldn't have written the article about him.

Meghan McKee
Boston, Massachusetts

Rat Race

As a cartoonist, I read Ted Rall's article with enthusiasm and delight. Mr. Rall is that rarest of creatures: a brave cartoonist! The rest of the New York cartoon clique can go on kissing butt, but I'd rather live with integrity.

Peter Bernard
Manhattan

Infantile Paralysis

Ted Rall's profile of Art Spiegelman reeks of envy and missed opportunities.

Rall recounts Spiegelman's quarter century of accomplishments, and then proceeds to criticize Spiegelman's power and influence among the cartoonerati. Rall should acknowledge that in any other profession, the dues Spiegelman has paid would merit him prestige and authority. He begrudges Spiegelman's "special category" Pulitzer. My children, aged nine and 11, learned about the Holocaust partly by reading Maus and Maus II.

Grow up, Ted.

Mark E. Horowitz, M.D.
Manhattan

Enthralled

As publisher at NBM, which specializes in graphic novels (we have published a couple of Ted Rall's titles), I want to go on record in support of Ted's piece denouncing Art Spiegelman's empire of cronies he has built in this city over more than a decade.

Sure, Maus is a very important milestone in comics in the U.S., and has been helpful in starting to establish recognition for the graphic novel. But I've observed with disgust the absolute misuse of the power Art and his wife, Françoise Mouly, have accumulated, and I could add a couple of anecdotes to Ted Rall's article.

It is this narrow vision of what is cool according to Saint Art and the rest be damned to hell that has needed denouncing for some time. It's one thing to have likes and dislikes; it's another to be exclusionary about it, especially when one bears such a burden of responsibility wielding the kind of clout they possess.

The King is dead (I hope). Long live no king.

Terry Nantier,
NBM Publishing
Manhattan

Knee Jerk

Seeing "King Maus: Art Spiegelman Rules the World of Comix with Favors and Fear" on the Voice's cover, I expected to read that Spiegelman accepts diamond bracelets as bribes and breaks cartoonists' knees between pencil-sharpening sessions.

Ted Rall's compendium of Spiegelman-related "crimes" falls just short of including July's hot weather: the Holocaust he writes about is more "popular"(!) than the Armenian genocide (clever work, Art); he hires his friends (editors and artists do become friends with the people whose work they admire); he's over 40; cartoonists are "terrified to speak about him" (know any painters who badmouth Kirk Varnedoe for publication?); Maus II is "unimaginatively titled" (its full title is A Surivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began [From Mauschwitz to the Catskills and Beyond]); he "didn't write the story [but] got it from his dad" (right, and another Pulitzer winner, John Hersey, didn't drop the bomb on Hiroshima, only recorded the aftermath); he cares about politics in the '90s "when the game no longer matters" (really?).

Karen Cooper
Director, Film Forum
Manhattan

'Hole in One

Ted Rall makes an excellent case that Art Spiegelman is an asshole. How curious then that he seems perfectly unaware that he is making a similar case for himself.

Rall's statement that Maus appealed to a public "too timid and media-saturated to pick up The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" implies that personal narrative is some sort of cheap substitute for the excellent historical work to which he refers.

Since when have first-person experience and historical analysis been interchangeable? William Shirer may have been in Germany as a reporter, but that hardly compares to the experiences of Vladek Spiegelman, who suffered through the Holocaust. To denigrate personal experience in favor of documentary analysis is a slap in the face to all those who have lived through the genocides of this century.

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