The Big Picture

In most graphic novels, the size of the panels directly correlate to the importance of the information it contains. In both of the pages that I traced, Spiegelman had a “focus” panel, a bigger panel that showed something important. On page 125 of book one, the panel brought the reader’s attention to the landscape: a winding road in the shape of a swastika, the Nazi symbol of power. Vladek and Anja, looking very small, and shaded very dark, in the foreground, are on the path, trying to escape the Nazi regime. Yet, Spiegelman uses the symbol of the swastika, with the twists and turns, to show that the Nazi’s are throughing the Jewish people these twists and that, no matter the road they take, they cannot move to escape their power. In book two on page 29, Spiegelman focuses on a person, Vladek’s friend in Auschwitz, Mandelbaum. The reader is drawn to the hand, holding up the pants that are way too big, and the sadness in his eyes along with his bare feet on the ground. Spiegelman tries throughout this book to make connections to the reader to teach them more and more about the hardships of being in Auschwitz. Sure, Vladek’s story is complex and may not be the same as everyone else who survived the Holocaust, and that’s what is so amazing: they survived. By showing Mandelbaum with a big outfit and no shoes, Vladek, through Spiegelman’s art, describes what it was like for many struggling for their life in Auschwitz, lacking many of the necessary things we need and take for granted. By focusing on this important image, the reader is able to see the big picture of many of the ideas Spiegelman is trying to emphasize throughout the graphic novel.


Image found on Flickr