**spoiler alert** Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. It also recounts the difficult relationship Art Spi...more**spoiler alert** Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. It also recounts the difficult relationship Art Spiegelman had with his father, mostly in describing the interviews Art had with his father about his experiences during the war. This is later complicated by the fact that his father dies between the first and second volumes. The writing is emotional, raw, and real. Unlike the neat little packages of fiction, Art never seems to come to terms with how he feels about his father.
In a stroke of genius, Art Spiegelman chose to present all of the characters in this biography as anthropomorphic animals. The Jews were all mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, etc. He used this artistic conceit to great effect on many occasions, like when Vladek and his wife Anja are trying to masquerade as Poles to avoid imprisonment. During these sequences, they are shown as wearing cheap Halloween style pig masks. This simple artistic trick highlights how precarious their situation was and how easily a single misstep could bring ruin.
Maus is an example of the heights to which comic books can rise. Like prose or video, comics can be used to tell any type of story. There is no reason for the medium to be limited to stories of over-endowed spandex wearing super-humans beating on one another. As Scott McCloud points out, the focus of American comic books on superheroes is more of a historical fluke than anything else.
Maus is a truly shining example of the best comics have to offer. I just hope that some day, the rest of the medium will catch up.(less)
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud literally changed the way I looked at comic books, manga, and animation. It is probably the m...moreUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud literally changed the way I looked at comic books, manga, and animation. It is probably the most in-depth look at the mechanics of how comics work ever created.
This comic about comics is so good, it's almost impossible to describe to someone who hasn't read it. It is especially impressive because Scott McCloud has to create an entire nomenclature to discuss comic in a scholarly manner, since it has never been done in such depth before. Nevertheless, it is a relatively easy read, since Scott manages to inject a lot of humor into what would otherwise be a rather dry subject.(less)
My wife bought Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress for me because she saw it was a "D&D" book and she was not dissuaded by the subtitle "A Girl's...moreMy wife bought Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress for me because she saw it was a "D&D" book and she was not dissuaded by the subtitle "A Girl's Guide to the D&D Game" which indicated I was probably not the target audience for this book.
Nevertheless, I found it to be a quick and fun read. The gaming sessions described within seemed more like actual game session than most books about gaming contain, accurately describing the distracting side-conversations, the frustration of a DM trying to keep a session from going off the rails, and how players with different play styles can rub each other the wrong way. Yet it still conveyed the sense of fun gamers have when gaming.
(It did have a lot of pink though, so I may have to turn in my man card just for reading the whole thing).
In all seriousness, even if you are a long time gamer don't think you would be interested, you should check it out. If you aren't interested and you have a wife, fiancee, or significant other, consider buying this for her! It is not a bad book to introduce someone to the hobby, either for future inclusion or (at least) tolerant smiles when you regale them with tales of your half-elf paladin.
PS- Since reading the book, I have had a few opportunities to talk with Shelly Mazzanoble (both in person and on the Lords of Tyr podcast. She is as wonderful in real life as you would imagine she is from reading this book.(less)