What happened in Maus was the absolute shock of an oxymoron: the Holocaust is absolutely the plast lace one would look for something to be made in the form of comics, which one associates with essentially trivial, simplified matter.
Boy: Hey! You got your comics in my Holocaust!
Girl: You got your Holocaust into my comics!
Comic Book Comics #6
by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey
Comic books: trivial. Graphic literature: serious business.
Actually, there's no difference between the two. It's the same format. Yes, I've ranted about this at length before. I will probably rant about it again and reiterate that this issue is rather essential to my approach to Wednesday Theology. For theology is serious, messy business. For most, it might seem inappropriate to address the subject of God in the "funny pages." Unless the target audience is comprised of children and the intellectually subnormal.
But Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, and others have proven the format can tackle difficult, "adult" issues in a serious manner. The main obstacle is convincing the likely audience for this material to give it a chance. How many readers interested in the Holocaust will browse the aisles of the History section at Barnes and Noble and stop to think, "Maybe I should check the comic book section to see if it has a Pulitzer Prize winning book about the Holocaust"?
Do we first label Maus as a Holocaust memoir or a piece of graphic literature? That is a tricky question. For what it's worth, the library at Augustana College places Maus in the Holocaust section, just a few books apart from Elie Wiesel's Night.
Of course, the irony is not lost on me in using Van Lente and Dunlavey's humorous panel to discuss the serious subject matter of Maus.