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Book Review < Back

In the Shadow of No Towers

Credits: Written and Illustrated by art spiegelman
Publisher: Pantheon Books


What does it take to publish the follow-up to your two-volume Pulitzer Prize-winning magnum opus that put both you, and "serious comics," on the mainstream map? Two fucking buildings falling down on your head, apparently.

art spiegelman, the pioneer auteur behind the holocaust memoir Maus (and longtime resident of lower Manhattan), returned to comics by literally running away from the collapse of the World Trade Center. A lifelong paranoid leaning more than a little to the left, spiegelman is forced by 9/11 and everything after both behind the drawing board, and into the daily comics pages of the past, to try and make sense of the ultimate inexplicable.

This collection of spiegelman's 10 strips are printed on cardboard-thick pages that approximate the massive galleys of the funnies page circa their invention; after spiegelman's run, he treats us to a look at the comics pages of antiquity that mean so much to him, each strip echoing some aspect of the iconography of the WTC attacks. TOWERS is a kind of shamanism of lower Manhattan in which Printer's Row and Ground Zero intertwine in a coil around spiegelman's head and squeeze: here the Katzenjammer kids serve as body-doubles for art and his wife; there art becomes Little Maus in Slumberland as his gasmask-clad mother chides him for falling out of bed.

IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS combines the pre-Maus mania of spiegelman's comics (like his work in Raw) with his post-Maus sense of design playfulness and graphic vivacity (his children's book, Open Me! I'm a Dog!). It cannot hope to contend with Maus: TOWERS is as different a work from Maus as Maus was from spiegleman's New Yorker covers. Maus was about the tragedy of spiegelman's father; TOWERS is the author's own.

-- Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.


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