Over on the estimable Comics Reporter, Bart Beaty reports on Katz, a sort-of-parody of Art Spiegelman’s Maus where all the characters, Nazis, Jews and Poles, are drawn as cats, which has been published in France (where they take comics very seriously). It’s a curiosity, particularly as it’s not just a few pages but the whole book and it appears to have been done with professionalism and style.
Naturally, given the revered status of Maus, the lawyers are out in force and it’s being pulped, but I’m sure it’ll live on electronically. Bart reckons it has value.
The decision to appropriate the entirety of Spiegelman’s work — every page, every line of dialogue — seems central to its implicit argument that Maus, as a key text that has shaped comics culture unlike almost any other, is already an object belonging to the community as a whole. It is, this book seems to be saying, a revered work, open to challenges and contestations by others.
I would argue that it is the very thoroughness of the appropriation that makes it so compelling. Katz challenges us to see one of the most important comics ever produced with new eyes. How is that a bad thing?
He also gives us what has to be the quote of the year, at least in comics circles. “I think that Spiegelman fruitfully problematizes the potentially essentializing aspect of his representations in the pages of Maus itself.”
via Kenny Penman
See also Tintin: Breaking Free, a similar-ish piece of wholesale copyright infringement to make a point.