Choose one of the following topics on Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History to base your thesis and essay on. Our questions are concerned mainly with the imbedded short piece, “Prisoner on the Hell Planet,” reprinted on pages 100-103 in that graphic novel, after Mala reveals that Artie’s father Vladek has seen the old comic about Anja’s suicide and funeral. Pages 104-105 and 158-159 are also related, dealing with Anja’s lost journals (her last chance for a direct voice in the story). “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” (1972), is illustrated in a German Expressionist manner, juxtaposed as an insert in his larger work Maus, Vol. I, which uses animals as its main form of characters. Consider why each story is illustrated as it is. Spiegelman began Maus in 1978, and serialized it from 1980 until 1991 as an insert in Raw, an avant-garde comics and graphics magazine published by Spiegelman and his wife, Françoise Mouly, who also appears in Maus. The volume of the first six chapters appeared in 1986.
1. How does the experience of seeing “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” change the reader’s perception of the absent Spiegelman mother and wife? How is Anja portrayed by father and son elsewhere in the story? How important is she to Maus?
2. The common term for those who lived through the Holocaust is “survivor.” How does this term’s meaning shift when applied to Vladek, Anja, and Art? How do the depictions in “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” influence your interpretation? Is the weakness and vulnerability seen there unexpected?
3. Does “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” reveal new possibilities concerning why Spiegelman wrote Maus? Consider how the themes of memory and guilt guide the work. How would our understanding of Art be changed if it had been left out?
Here is the specific requirement and the comic.