Breakdowns by Art Spiegelman
Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!

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The creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus explores the comics form...and how it formed him!

This book opens with Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, creating vignettes of the people, events, and comics that shaped Art Spiegelman. It traces the artist's evolution from a MAD-comics obsessed boy in Rego Park, Queens, to a neurotic adult examining the effect of his parents' memories of Auschwitz on his own son.

The second part presents a facsimile of Breakdowns, the long-sought after collection of the artist's comics of the 1970s, the book that triggers these memories. Breakdowns established the mode of formally sophisticated comics that transformed the medium, and includes the prototype of Maus, cubist experiments, an essay on humor, and the definitive genre-twisting pulp story "Ace Hole-Midget Detective."

Pulling all this together is an illustrated essay that looks back at the sixties as the artist pushes sixty, and explains the obsessions that brought these works into being. Poignant, funny, complex, and innovative, Breakdowns alters the terms of what can be accomplished in a memoir.

About Art Spiegelman

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Perhaps best known for his masterful Holocaust narratives Maus and Maus II– which in 1992 won a Pulitzer Prize–Art Spiegelman is one of the world's best known and beloved comic artists. Born in Stockholm in 1948, Spiegelman rejected his parents’ aspirations for him to become a dentist, and began to study cartooning in high school and drawing professionally at age 16. He went on to study art and philosophy at Harpur College before joining the underground comics movement. As creative consultant for Topps Candy from 1965-1987, Spiegelman designed Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and other novelty items, and taught history and aesthetics of comics at the School for Visual Arts in New York from 1979-1986. In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Françoise Mouly. His work has since been published in many periodicals, including The New Yorker, where he was a staff artist and writer from 1993-2003. He has since published a children’s book entitled Open Me… I’m A Dog, as well as the illustration accompaniment to the 1928 book The Wild Party, by Joseph Moncure March. Spiegelman is the author, most recently, of In the Shadow of No Towers. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and, in addition to the winning the Pulitzer Prize, Maus was nominated for a National Book Critics' Circle Award. His drawings and prints have been widely exhibited here and abroad. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children.
Published October 7, 2008 by Pantheon. 72 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Comics & Graphic Novels, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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“He dared to call himself an artist and call his medium an art form,” he explains in the mostly textual afterword, as he became “infatuated with the cross-pollination of High and Low.” Though much of the work for which the artist has become celebrated has been autobiographical, this reissue is re...

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The Guardian

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Before Maus, comix of the kind Spiegelman produced were typified as 'underground', demarcating them as a part of the late 60s counterculture different from other graphic narratives, be it Peanuts or Superman.

Nov 30 2008 | Read Full Review of Breakdowns: Portrait of the A...

Open Letters Monthly

When the mature Spiegelman ponders the creation of Hell Planet in 2005, he suddenly suffers an anxiety attack: His avatar comments, “I don’t tend to confuse Art and Therapy (making Art is cheaper), but I did think Hell Planet had helped me ‘deal’ with Anja’s suicide.” Just as the mouse statue ...

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Crumb and that unique artist's enormous influence on his own work, his immersion in mind-altering drugs and its effect on his ideas about narrative structure, his experimentation with grotesque images (one drawing showed a character called "The Viper" having sex with a hole in the neck of a boy'...

Nov 06 2008 | Read Full Review of Breakdowns: Portrait of the A...


Thirty years ago Breakdowns, the first book collecting Art Spiegelman’s comic strips was published in limited edition of 5,000 copies that took years to sell through despite the fact that a printing error rendered half the volumes un-saleable.

Sep 19 2008 | Read Full Review of Breakdowns: Portrait of the A...

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