A terrific book that chronicles Spiegelman s coming of age amidst a jewish upbringing condemned to neurotic blame and guilt put on by the holocaust it s a declaration of how he arrived to be a comic book artist, his father exclaiming you have to use what little space you have to pack inside everything you can one suitcasein case the Nazis cometo everything you can in a tiny graphic square he is an experimental concept artist, exploring the implications of the frame, of making victims into mice, of putting Picasso and pornography in the same frame and letting a baby read Kafka as his mother contemplates suicide He is trying to elicit a notion, concept, right In this breakdown of his technique, he interfuses guiding quotes by famous authors such as Victor Shklovsky s the purpose of art is to impart the senasation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known and Susan Sontag s no caption can permanently restrict or secure a picture s meaning these are displayed over the drawings from his comics, to implicate their true meaning, not as narrative but as stimulus of feeling, instigation That s what he is, an in your face writer, trying to get you to think as crazy provoked as he is. 2.5 Well, if nothing else, this book makes clear, to those not already aware of it, what a high opinion Spiegelman has of himself Not that it s entirely unjustified, of course he is a master of comics technique, as is abundantly evident here He s also an impressive stylist, capable both of striking images in his own style and excellent pastiche work of various figures, not to mention cunning use of collage But he also comes across as pretty consistently impressed with himself, which is unseemly at best to Canadian sensibilities, anyway At any rate, this book reprints the late 1970s collection of a bunch of Spiegelman s underground work preceded by a comics form memoir and followed by a prose afterward, in both of which Spiegelman traces his development as an artist There s great cartooning in the former and lots of interesting information in the latter Seeing the reprinted material is worthwhile as well, since most of it I d never seen before despite some of it having a high reputation e.g the original 3 page Maus, Ace Hole What most of this stuff has in common is experimentation, mainly with the formal properties of comics and the tension between form and content Spiegelman s very much a form guy, with relatively little interest in narrative content evident here ironic, give his overwhelmingly greatest success is the equally experimental and formalist but nevetrtheless narratively driven Maus Indeed, one of the features of the initial comics memoir is the extent to which Maus now looms over his entire career though given that he s not really done any substantive work since then, that s hardly surprising Even when he does tell stories they are for the most part pretty self conscious if not overtly meta I m of a content than a form guy, though, so interesting as all the self consciousness and formal play is, for me a little of it goes a long way I d also forgotten, since reading it in Maus, what a whiny, self serving thing Prisoner of the Hell Planet is Telling a story in which you characterize your concentration camp surviving mother s suicide as an act of murder against you well, I suppose it expresses Spiegelman s emotional truth, but if so, words fail me Anyway, this is an interesting if not superlative collection to these eyes. The original three page Maus comic and Prisoner on the Hell Planet are amazing feats of comics Prisoner on the Hell Planet has got to be one of the best comics I ve read The blown up edition of it really enhances its power outside of being an insert in the Maus graphic novel The rest of the items in this book are basically highly meta deconstructions of the comic medium and of different aspects of storytelling Some of them are great, others completely miss the mark Several are just too obtuse or intellectual, seemingly for no purpose But as I said those two comics are gems and there are several other really good pieces in here, but a lot of it seems like he was experimenting and trying to find the subject matter that he would eventually apply his experiments and deconstructions of the medium to This of course was Maus, and this is also why those two comics I mentioned are the most successful.The introduction is also quite good, again, sometimes too obtuse, but mostly really good. Ich bin ja ein gro er Freund von Art Spiegelman.Die versammelten Comic strips in Breakdowns zeugen von der Vielseitigkeit des K nstlers und regen Comicfreunde au erdem zu Detektivarbeit an Welche Figuren hat er aus Comics anderer K nstler bernommen Auf welchen K nstler spielt er an Welchen Zeichenstil ahmt er gerade nach Am meisten sch tze ich an Spiegelman jedoch die autobiografischen Spuren, die er in seine Comics s t Was soll ich sagen, eine sch ne Sammlung Abzug gibt es f r die wirklich grottige deutsche bersetzung Was war da los Ich habe das Gef hl, dass teilweise einfach Wort f r Wort bersetzt wurde, ohne auf Satzbau oder Semantik zu achten Wenn ich dann Mein Vater war v llig auseinandergefallen lesen muss, dann m chte ich den oder die bersetzer allesamt ins Slumberland schicken Ja, w rtlich f r to fall apart richtig, aber im Zusammenhang und sthetisch einfach unter aller Kanone Meine Augen Breakdowns was Spiegelman s first book, put out in 1977, so this is a new edition of some old material Spiegelman, however, does a new comic book introduction which is half as long as the original Breakdowns, so there s also plenty of new material The best strips are the original three page Maus and the classic Hell Planet strip that appears in the famous, novel length version of Maus Most of the other strips are creative and formal experiments, and stylistic exercises They re not engaging on a narrative level, but Spiegelman uses the medium in very impressive ways his style is very elastic and allows him to play at noir, illustrate with a heavier, almost woodcut style, or work with Cubist images.The new introduction is largely a meditation on creativity and elements of his childhood that shaped his professional and creative life, and the introduction is probably, for me, the best part of the entire book It s impressive, but I can see why others might not really like it. This is a book that has completely changed my perspective not just of comics but the world altogether I m not raving about Art Spiegelman being a genius, which he uncontrollably is, but about the way this book has articulated his journey from one point in his life, a disillusioned artist, to another, a self aware even if arguably still disillusioned artist.Breakdowns is, in every definition of the word, exactly what it means. I ll say to each their own but I found the comic strips, well, stupid Think in terms of shock value and humorless Or at least, that s my take I did manage to stick around for the author s very long rambling of an afterword Maybe I was too stuck in what I d read in the comics, but I just didn t care to read his life story or rationalizations for his writing medium as he calls it I haven t read his popular work Maus yet and I m not sure I want to any. The Creator Of The Pulitzer Prize Winning Maus Explores The Comics Formand How It Formed Him This Book Opens With Portrait Of The Artist As A Young % , Creating Vignettes Of The People, Events, And Comics That Shaped Art Spiegelman It Traces The Artist S Evolution From A MAD Comics Obsessed Boy In Rego Park, Queens, To A Neurotic Adult Examining The Effect Of His Parents Memories Of Auschwitz On His Own SonThe Second Part Presents A Facsimile Of Breakdowns, The Long Sought After Collection Of The Artist S Comics Of The S, The Book That Triggers These Memories Breakdowns Established The Mode Of Formally Sophisticated Comics That Transformed The Medium, And Includes The Prototype Of Maus, Cubist Experiments, An Essay On Humor, And The Definitive Genre Twisting Pulp Story Ace Hole Midget Detective Pulling All This Together Is An Illustrated Essay That Looks Back At The Sixties As The Artist Pushes Sixty, And Explains The Obsessions That Brought These Works Into Being Poignant, Funny, Complex, And Innovative, Breakdowns Alters The Terms Of What Can Be Accomplished In A Memoir better than i thought it d be relatable in its tackling of mental illness hopelessness depression educational in its portrayal of post WWII life in NYC for polish immigrants and the world of comics