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Art Spiegelman | Biography

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Arthur "Art" Spiegelman was born on February 15, 1948, to Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, Polish Jewish refugees from World War II living in Sweden, where they escaped after the war. The Spiegelmans moved to the United States in 1951, finally settling down in Queens, New York, in 1955. Art attended high school at the Manhattan School of Art and Design, followed by a few years at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he became interested in alternative comics. He left school after his mother's suicide in 1968.

An illustrator for The Long Island Post by day, Spiegelman spent the early 1970s dabbling in the underground comics scene. One of his first pieces was the three-page "Maus," published in the 1972 comic anthology Funny Animals. The comic, which depicted Jews in World War II–era Poland as mice traumatically hiding from German cats, was inspired by his father's own war experiences. Realizing he had barely skimmed the surface of his parents' story, Spiegelman began interviewing his father almost immediately after publication. The resulting decade of in-depth interviews eventually became Maus, which was first published in monthly installments as Spiegelman worked on it. Volume 1 of Maus was published in 1986; Volume 2 followed in 1991. The collection was awarded a Special Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Then in 2011 MetaMaus was published. This book is valuable to read as a follow-up to Maus, as it has extensive information about all the people involved and about the genesis of Spiegelman as an artist and author.

In addition to being a researcher and writer, Spiegelman is the co-founder of Raw, an underground comic and graphics anthology, with his wife, Françoise Mouly, also a well-known artist and editor born in Paris. He brought the repulsively hilarious Garbage Pail Kids to life during his 20-year relationship with Topps chewing gum and has worked as an illustrator for the New York Times, Playboy, and The New Yorker, where he also served as a writer. Tragedy entered Spiegelman's work again in 2004's The Shadow of No Towers, which is about the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and in 2008 he published a graphic memoir, Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!.

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