Saturday, July 26, 2008

Baby Mouse and Maus

For the adult summer reading game at the library one of the things the patrons are asked to read is a graphic novel. Graphic novels and manga (Japanese comic books) have become more mainstream in the last few years. Movies like Tom Hank's Road to Perdition, Sin City, and others began as a graphic novel.
As a kid in the 70's I was no stranger to comic books. Hefty who worked at Texaco with my dad would give my brothers and me all his comic books when he was finished. I really looked forward to new editions. Hot Stuff was one of my favorites but I also remember that there were some war comics as well that kind of scared the 7 year old me. So I guess I have always thought that comic books were not just for kids.
But since I was a kid, I haven't been into comic books very much, so when people ask me to recommend a good graphic novel I find myself offering up one of two choices. Choices that have only one thing in common--mice. Both comics have mice as the main characters. Baby Mouse is by Jennifer (writer) and Matthew (illustrator) Holms. Baby Mouse is fun, funny and just wants straight whiskers. Most of us can identify with Baby Mouse. This series is aimed at the younger set--3rd and 4th graders but if you pick up a copy, I promise you that you will enjoy it.
The other end of the spectrum is Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Speigelman. Maus recounts the story of Speigelman's father during the Holocaust. In 1992 it won a Special Pulitzer Prize Award--that is how good it is. For some reason graphic novels are very good at tapping into our raw emotions and bypassing the analytical mind. Maus hits hard and is extremely powerful. Read this one when you need a dose of humanity.
With Comicon this week in San Diego, I thought an entry on graphic novels were in order. I know I need to expand my horizons in this genre but I do feel that I have encounter some of the best. But then again maybe there is much more out there that I haven't discovered yet.

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