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Art Spiegelman (born February 15, 1948) is an American comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic memoir, Maus.
Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden to Vladek Spiegelman and Anja Spiegelman (née Zylberberg), Polish-Jewish refugees. Spiegelman grew up in Rego Park in Queens, New York City, New York and graduated from the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. Spiegelman attended Binghamton University, called Harpur College at the time. He did not graduate, but received an honorary doctorate from there 30 years later. At Harpur, Spiegelman audited classes by the innovative filmmaker Ken Jacobs, and became friendly with him. Spiegelman has acknowledged being strongly inspired by Jacobs' work and thought.
He had one brother named Richieu who died before Art was born. Richieu was caught in the conflicts of World War II and was sent to live with an aunt, Tosha, since the Zawiercie ghetto where she resided seemed safer than the Sosnowiec-Środula ghetto. When the Nazis started to deport people from the Zawiercie ghetto, Tosha poisoned herself, Richieu, her own daughter (Bibi) and her niece (Lonia). (Maus, Volume 1) Art mentions in Maus that he felt like he had a sibling rivalry with a photograph, since his parents were still upset over the death of their first-born son. The second volume of Maus was dedicated to Richieu and to Art's daughter, Nadja.
In the late winter of 1968, he suffered a brief but intense nervous breakdown, an event occasionally referred to in his work. After his release from a mental hospital, his mother, Anja, committed suicide. Spiegelman was a major figure in the underground comics movement of the 1960s and 1970s, contributing to publications such as Real Pulp, Young Lust and Bizarre Sex. He co-founded two significant comics anthology publications, Arcade (along with Bill Griffith) in the early 70's in San Francisco, and RAW with his wife, artist (and, later, Art Editor of the The New Yorker) Françoise Mouly, in 1980.
Together with many other innovative works, RAW serialized Maus, which retraces his parents' story as they survived the Holocaust. In 1986, he released the first volume of Maus (Maus I: A Survivor's Tale, also known as Maus I: My Father Bleeds History) The second volume, Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began followed in 1991. Maus attracted an unprecedented amount of critical attention for a work in the form of comics, including an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992.
Spiegelman has also worked in more commercial forums: After a summer internship (when he was 18) at Topps Bubble Gum, he was hired as a consultant and remained as such for 20 years. For Topps, Spiegelman invented "Garbage Candy" (candy in the form of garbage, sold in miniature plastic garbage cans), the Wacky Packages card series, and co-created (with Mark Newgarden) 'Garbage Pail Kids' stickers and cards, Ring Pops (rings with a candy popsicle insert), and countless other hugely successful novelties. After twenty years of asking Topps to grant the creators a percentage of the profit, and after other industries (such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics) had grudgingly conceded, Topps still refused. Spiegelman, who had assigned Topps work to many of his cartoonist friends or students, left over the issue of creative ownership and ownership of artwork (Topps auctioned off the original artwork they had accumulated over the decades, and kept the profits).
Hired by Tina Brown in 1992, Spiegelman worked for The New Yorker for ten years, but resigned a few months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Spiegelman's post-September 11 New Yorker cover received wide acclaim. At first it appears to be totally black, but upon close examination reveals the silhouettes of the World Trade Center towers in a slightly darker shade of black. Spiegelman states that his resignation from The New Yorker was to protest the "widespread conformism" in the United States media. Spiegelman is a sharp critic of the administration of President George W. Bush and claims that the American media has become "conservative and timid."
In September 2004, he released In the Shadow of No Towers, in which he relates his experience of the Twin Towers attack and the psychological after-effects. Since Fall 2005, Spiegelman's new series "Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@?*!" has appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review.
In 2005, Time Magazine named Spiegelman one of their "Top 100 Most Influential People"
Spiegelman is a prominent advocate for the medium of comics. He tours the country giving a lecture he calls "Comix 101." He and Françoise Mouly have published three hardcover anthologies of comics for children, called Little Lit. He lives in downtown Manhattan with Mouly and their two children, Nadja and Dashiell.
In the June 2006 edition of Harper's magazine, he published an article on the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy which had occurred earlier in the year. At least one vendor, Canada's Indigo chain of booksellers, refused to sell the particular issue. Called "Drawing Blood: Outrageous Cartoons and the Art of Outrage" the article contained a survey of the sometimes dire impact of political cartooning on its creators, ranging from Honoré Daumier (who was imprisoned for a satirical work) to George Grosz (who was exiled). The article raised the ire of Indigo because it seemed to promote the continuance of racially-motivated cartooning