Story posted March 22, 2006
Pulitzer Prize-winning illustrator Art Spiegelman will deliver Bowdoin College's 2006 Harry Spindel Memorial Lecture at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall.
Spiegelman will give an illustrated performance on his masterful Holocaust narratives Maus and Maus II, which were the first-year book selection for the Class of 2009.
The performance is open to the public and admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available to Bowdoin students, faculty and staff beginning Monday, March 27, at the David Saul Smith Union information desk on campus. Tickets will be available to the general public beginning Friday, March 31.
A reception will follow the lecture in Drake Lobby. A small number of pre-signed books will be available for purchase.
Art Spiegelman has almost single-handedly brought comic books out of the toy closet and onto the literature shelves. In 1992 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus - which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus II continued the remarkable story of his parents' survival of the Nazi regime and their lives later in America.
His comics are best known for their shifting graphic styles, their formal complexity, and controversial content. He believes that in our post-literate culture the importance of the comic is on the rise, for "comics echo the way the brain works."
Having rejected his parents' aspirations for him to become a dentist, Art Spiegelman studied cartooning in high school and began drawing professionally at age 16. He went on to study art and philosophy at Harpur College before becoming part of the underground comics movement. As creative consultant for Topps Bubble Gum Co. from 1965 to 1987, Spiegelman designed Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and other novelty items, and taught history and aesthetics of comics at the School for Visual Arts in New York from 1979 to 1986.
In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Françoise Mouly. They've more recently co-edited Little Lit, a series of three comics anthologies for children published by HarperCollins ("Comics-They're not just for Grown-ups Anymore"). In 1997 Spiegelman created a picture book for young children called Open Me...I'm A Dog with the same publisher.
His work has been published in many periodicals, including The New Yorker, where he was a staff artist and writer from 1993 to 2003. A collection of his New Yorker work is soon to be published by Pantheon, who also published his illustrated version of the 1928 lost classic, The Wild Party, by Joseph Moncure March.
In 2004 he completed a two-year cycle of broadsheet-sized color comics pages, In the Shadow of No Towers, first published in a number of European newspapers and magazines including Die Zeit and The London Review of Books. A book version of these highly political works was published by Pantheon in the United States, appeared on many national bestseller lists, and was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2004.
Spiegelman is working on a comix format memoir, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Nerd, which will incorporate a reprinting of his most significant underground comix work, as well as a forthcoming anniversary edition of Maus titled Meta Maus.
A major exhibition of his work was arranged by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in November 2005, as part of the "15 Masters of 20th Century Comics" exhibit. In his spare time he is working on the libretto and the sets for a music-theater piece about the rise and fall of comic books entitled "Drawn to Death: A Three Panel Opera" with composer Phillip Johnston, to be produced with The Improbable Theater company in 2007.
In 2005, Art Spiegelman was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.
Rosalyne Spindel Bernstein and Sumner Bernstein established Bowdoin College's Harry Spindel Memorial Lectureship in Judaic studies and contemporary Jewish affairs in 1977 in memory of Mrs. Bernstein's father, Harry Spindel, as a lasting testimony to his lifelong devotion to Jewish learning. Past speakers have included Lucy Davidowicz, Irving Howe, Arthur Hertzberg, Grace Paley, Elizabeth Holtzman, Barney Frank, Michael Walzer, and Daniel Boyarin. Sandi DuBowski, Susannah Heschel, and Tony Kushner were among the lectureship's 25th anniversary celebration speakers and performers.