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The Rise of the American Comics ArtistCreators and Contexts$
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Paul Williams and James Lyons

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604737929

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604737929.001.0001

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Making Comics Respectable: How maus Helped Redefine a Medium

Making Comics Respectable: How maus Helped Redefine a Medium

(p.179) Chapter Eleven Making Comics Respectable: How maus Helped Redefine a Medium
The Rise of the American Comics Artist

Ian Gordon

University Press of Mississippi

The last two decades have witnessed a significant transformation of comic books as far as types and content available are concerned, not to mention their critical reception. This shift can be traced to certain events in the production and distribution of comics, particularly superhero comics. However, the singularly most important phenomenon in the reevaluation of comic books was the publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus (collected in 1986 and 1991) and the critical response it generated. This chapter examines public and academic discourses on the status and nature of comic books in the wake of Maus. After providing an overview of the development of comics that led to the creation of Maus, it assesses its impact, the changing view of comics in the press, and the burgeoning of academic work on comics art. The chapter then considers the scholarly debate over the periodization of graphic novels such as Maus and comments on the campaign by Fredric Wertham and others in the 1950s against comic books, which they accused of causing juvenile delinquency. Finally, it looks at two museum exhibitions showcasing Maus.

Keywords:   comic books, comics, Art Spiegelman, Maus, comics art, periodization, graphic novels, Fredric Wertham, exhibitions, superhero comics

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