28 March 2012

Spiegelman in Retrospection

Last night I attended a talk by Art Spiegelman at Northeastern University. During the Q&A at the end, an audience member asked what he was working on now, and Spiegelman explained that he had just gone through a period of, if I recall right, “forced retrospection.”

First came the opportunity to republish some of his earliest work, in Breakdowns. That involved revisiting his underground comics of the 1970s. I suspect very few people can casually review their activity during the ’70s without needing time to recover.

Then came the long-gestating Metamaus, a sprawling compilation of material that went into his two-volume masterwork Maus. More than 7,000 drawings, interviews, videos, and other raw material to be assembled in a book-DVD package.

Then the renowned comics festival at Angoulême invited Spiegelman to be president of its jury and receive the Grand Prix de la Ville, an honor which came with a career retrospective at the city museum. So he had to help organize that.

Spiegelman was back from France only four days when he spoke in Boston. He thus barely had his feet on home soil and was quite unsure what project he would take up next. But it’s clearly an interesting moment in his career, when past achievements have been so clearly laid out and codified.

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