Sunday, April 13, 2008

Art Spiegelman in Laramie April 30-May 1

During a trip to Orlando a few years ago, I was waiting for my sister to get off work so I wandered over to Rollins College. It's one of those bucolic and pricey southern liberal arts colleges, one with its own waterskiing lake. It also has a great art museum. When I visited, it was displaying artwork by Art Spiegelman, author of the illustrated novel Maus. I hadn't yet read the Pulitzer prize-winning book but was fascinated by Spiegelman's drawings and the story behind the book, which features Jewish mice and Nazi cats.

I'll have a chance to talk to Spiegelman when he comes to the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie April 30-May 1. The comic artist will give a lecture, "Comix 101," at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30 at the Cavalryman Supper Club, 4425 S. 3rd Street (Hwy. 287). Afterward, he will answer questions from the audience. The event is free and open to the public. On Thursday, May 1, from noon-1:30 p.m., Spiegelman will discuss his work at the Cavalryman. This is free, but seating is limited. For tickets, call 721-2580 ext. 5456 or email albypr@will.state.wy.us.

In advance of Spiegelman's visit, on Wednesday, April 23, 5 p.m., the Albany County Public Library in Laramie will host a book discussion of Maus, led by Dr. Clifford Marx of the UW English Dept. To sign up, contact Kathy Marquis at kmarquis@will.state.wy.us. UW Libraries will provide free copies of Maus for the discussion.

In 2005, Time Magazine named Art Spiegelman one of their "Top 100 Most Influential People." He is credited with inventing the modern graphic novel. In 1980 he and his wife Fran├žoise Mouly founded the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine RAW. In 1992, Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus. Maus II continued the remarkable story of his parents' survival of the Nazi regime and their lives later in America.

From 1993-2003 Spiegelman was a staff artist and writer for The New Yorker, where he produced some of the magazine's best covers, including the stark black-on-black memorial of the World Trade Center. That image appears again on his book In the Shadow of No Towers (2004), about the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. It was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2004, and has appeared on many bestseller lists.

Spiegelman's visit to Laramie is sponsored by the Wyoming Arts Council, where I work, the UW MFA Program in Creative Writing, the Wyoming Humanities Council, UW Libraries, UW Office of the President, UW Art Department, Albany County Public Library Foundation and the Laramie Jewish Community Center "in memory of UW Political Science Professor Dr. Fred Homer."

In the fall, the Albany County Public Library will hold a series of discussions of graphic novels with Jewish themes, including work by Spiegelman, Will Eisner and Harvey Pekar. To sign up, contact Kathy Marquis at kmarquis@will.state.wy.us.

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