Happy Birthday, Art Spiegelman

Artwork & Illustrations, Authors, Banned and Challenged Books

By: Allyson Mower

Happy birthday to cartoonist Art Spiegelman, born in Sweden on February 15, 1948. Through his art, Spiegelman has taken on such topics as Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the Crown Heights riot of 1991, and we celebrate him as a banned author. Fellow IF blogger Lauren Salerno details one of Spiegelman’s great works Maus in her June 2018 post and its banning in Russia and a challenge in California.

Senior Airman Alton Kelly reads a copy of Spiegelman’s Maus, photo by Vance Air Force Base, licensed for reuseSpiegelman has brought much attention to the possibility of using art to tell narrative stories. He popularized the term ‘graphic novel’ and has also described these types of works as novels without words. This concept of novels without words reached a wider audience when Pantheon decided to publish Maus in 1986 and sell it in bookstores rather than comic book shops.

I have not yet read Maus, but I picked it up from my public library over the weekend. The first few pages have been wonderful. I have been reading several graphic novels (first time ever!) in order to inform which books to select for the Curiosity Bibliotherapy book club I run at the academic library where I work. The genre for March is graphic novel, which I am new to. Possible titles I have read have included Watchmen and Persepolis, two titles that might not have the well-deserved audience they have garnered without Spiegelman’s work. And that is very much worth celebrating.  


Allyson MowerAllyson Mower, MA, MLIS is Head of Scholarly Communication & Copyright at the University of Utah Marriott Library. She’s very curious about curiosity, what drives people to uncover information, and how libraries of all types create demand for knowledge. As a tenured faculty member, she researches the history of academic freedom — a kind of intellectual freedom — and the history of authorship and scholarly communication at the institution. She provides the U of U community and the general public with information, tools, and services related to both copyright and publishing. Allyson was a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2008, was nominated as a 2012 Society for Scholarly Publishing Emerging Leader, and served as the U of U Academic Senate President in 2014. Find her on Twitter @allysonmower.

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