The St Louis Refugee Ship Blues: A Very Short Review

This is what the comics medium can achieve.  Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman has a full-page editorial cartoon in Sunday’s Washington Post which is a grand salute — and critique – — of editorial cartoonists of the past.   Those familiar with his work will know that Spiegelman is famous for his graphic novel Maus, about the Holocaust, featuring Nazis as jackbooted cats and the Jews, including Spiegelman and his father, as mice.


The interactive on the Post web site does not have the delicious impact of opening the Outlook section over your morning coffee and taking in the entire breathtaking page of newsprint.  But click around and pick up on its beauties.  Spiegelman, in his usual mouse guise, closely reflects all the seventy-year-old cartoons he’s telling us about.   Also, look at how cleverly he handles the progression of the panels (directing you which to read next) and yet steps out of the traditional grid format.  His mouse avatar steps before, behind, and  even reaches from one panel to another.

The work of a master — and, in the great tradition of editorial cartooning, it’s ephemeral, read today and lining a bird cage tomorrow.  Luckily his magnum opus Maus, because it won the Pulitzer, is available everywhere.  Look in your local library if you don’t want to spring for it at Borders — it’s there.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


The St Louis Refugee Ship Blues: A Very Short Review — 1 Comment

  1. I hope it’s not too ephemeral. He’s saying something very important indeed, and using the graphic format to great advantage. I’ve read other comments on the the refusal to admit the refugee ship — and on current events — but this is an example of where the right picture can do more than 1,000 words.