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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 05/ 4/2009

Mr. Spiegelman Goes to Washington

By Michael Cavna

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman in his Soho studio in Manhattan last October. (Helayne Seidman for The Washington Post)

Legendary cartoonist ART SPIEGELMAN is coming to Washington D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery of Art tonight for a little talk. The advertised topic of this little talk? Simply the History of Comics.

In lesser hands and minds, you might expect a snoozer of a survey course. But Spiegelman -- the Pulitzer-winning creator of the Holocaust narrative "Maus" who is sometimes hailed as "the father of the graphic novel" -- is sure to take such a big-tent topic to engaging, interesting and truly insightful heights.

Still, such a monster topic might spook some fans. (Officially, the Corcoran says the evening will be "a chronological tour of the evolution of comics," with the cartoonist "all the while explaining the value of this medium and why it should not be ignored.") So how exactly, Mr. Spiegelman, will you address all that in a single evening?

"I'll bring PowerPoint pictures," Spiegelman tells Comic Riffs with an easy, wry wit.

"It will be Comix 101 -- the essentials of the aesthetic," the Manhattan cartoonist goes on to explain. "How it is that cartoons get into your brain. I'm also trying to wrestle with what the hell happened with comics. There was a Faustian deal in the '70s ... as comics were leaving the center tent of mass media."


A cartoon self-portrait from the graphic novel "In the Shadow of No Towers" (Art Spiegelman)

Spiegelman cites the '70s as a decade when comics reinvented themselves. There come times when an art must reinvent itself or die, he says.

"What the [bleep] did happen to comics?" Spiegelman muses. "Whatever it is, it's a big deal."

Speaking of comics and history, Spiegelman also notes his own comical history with the Corcoran, citing it as the first institution that every put his work on a wall, back in the '60s. "There was nothing I was doing at the period that I would put on a wall," Spiegelman says. "It showed that the Corcoran was open-minded in its choices, if not its taste."

TOMORROW: Comic Riffs's full interview with Art Spiegelman.

By Michael Cavna  | May 4, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  General  
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Next: Frazz's Turn: Which Strip Should Go to KidsPost?

Comments

Where was Frazz on Monday 5/4?

Posted by: rbcpa | May 4, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

>> rbcpa:

Frazz ran on the KidsPost page. We'll take up this matter in-depth tomorrow.

M.C.

Posted by: cavnam | May 4, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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