Jacqueline Swartz grew up in San Francisco, lived in Greece and Paris and now resides in Toronto. She has traveled to seldom visited places in Northern India, interviewed philosophers in Paris and sent political dispatches from Athens. Her work appears in major Canadian publications, and she has written for Cosmopolitan in the US and Conde Nast Traveler in the UK and Agence-France Presse. Travel writing encompasses her interests and passions, from food to art, from health to archeology.
Cartoonist Art Spiegelman's CO-MIX retrospective
Maus, Spiegelman's masterpiece
The massacre of
four of France’s
best-known cartoonists set an eerie stage for the retrospective ofone of the world's pioneeringand provocative cartoon artists. The exhibit,
at the Art Gallery of Toronto, is called, “Art
Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A retrospective." Occupying room after room, it traces
Spiegelman's progress, fromhis first teenage
efforts, distributing, at age 15, a fanzine called Blaze, to his bubblegum
trading card sketches for To
pps Chewing Gum company, through his transitions
from counterculture comics about sex and drugs. The over 300 works on paper
range from trading cards to magazine covers.
Here the writing’s
on the wall -and so are the drawings, a
mesmerizing mix oftragedy, pop culture,
politics and art, shaped by influences ranging
from Mad Magazine to cubism
The centerpiece of
the exhibit is a display of original
manuscripts of Spiegelman's masterpiece, Maus, rarely seen due to their
fragility.Spiegelman won the Pulitzer
prize in 1992 for the Holocaust story of victims drawn as mice and Nazis shown
as cats. The New Yorker called it the first masterpiece in comic book
The son of Holocaust survivors,the young cartoonist was compelled to tape record
his father, a survivor of Auschwitz, as he told his stories of horror and desperate survival. The result was
"Maus 1 A survivor's tale: My Father Bleeds History. "
Before that, in
1973, Spiegelman drew a cartoon strip about his mother's 1968 suicide at their
home in Brooklyn, NY. Using an expressionistic graphic style, he drew himself
as a lanky, confused son, with nowhere to turn. "Aurthur, we're so
sorry", says a friend of his father's, and this is accompanied by a
thought bubble saying "It's his fault, the punk".The piece is called "Prisoners on The
Hell Planet: a case history", and it was part of a 1977 anthology called
In the l980's he
co-founded an avant-garde magazine, RAW, with his French-born wife, Francoise
Mouly.In it he published chapters
ofMaus. He also showcased some of the
best new graphic artists of the time.
lifelong concern with memory and personal experience has continued in his short
comic-strip memoir, Portrait of the
Artist as a Young %@*&!, published in 2008.
And while he
claims he is not a political cartoonist, much of his work has a political cast,
heavily influenced by Mad Magazine. In fact, he said that Mad Magazine was more
important to the '60's generation than pot and LSD in shaping the generation
that protested the VietNam War. "Mad said the mainstream media is lying to
you", he wrote in the New Yorker in l993. He designed covers for the
magazine from 1992 to 2002, and established the tradition of biting cover art.
Today, it continues under art director, Francoise Mouly, Spiegelman's wife.
New Yorker cover
At the exhibit, an
entire wall is devoted to his drawings, "In the Shadow of the No
Towers," his coming to grips with the fall of the Twin Towers on September
11, 2001.Spiegelman, who lived in the area, was
devastated.He was also critical of the
jingoism following the attacks. He couldnt get his pieces published in America
(the Jewish Forward was an exception),but major European publications were eager to print them.
recent workincludes multimedia
projects. Hapless Hooligan, a fusion
of performance and animation, was produced with the Connecticut-based dance
troupe, Pilobolus.And It was only Yesterday is a 50-foot
painted-glass mural designed for New Yorks High School of Art and Design,
Spiegelman's alma mater.
In the aftermath
of the Paris murders, Speigelman joined a group of French people in a public
show of solidarity in New York.In North
America, he said, "cartooning has effectively been defanged. The last
thing a paper wants to do is offend."