Art Spiegelman

With a Pulitzer Prize behind him for Maus, and the trauma of 9/11 transformed into In the Shadow of No Towers, what horrifying subject does Art Spiegelman tackle next? His own childhood, of course, and coming of age. Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! (Pantheon, $27.50) has its share of woe: Spiegelman’s mother, a Holocaust survivor, committed suicide when he was a teen. Then came the drugs, the high ’60s, time in a mental ward, and ’70s career struggles during the early age of comix. (In San Fran and NYC, young Spiegelman rubbed shoulders with R. Crumb and Bill Griffith.) The core of Breakdowns is Breakdowns, a stand-alone deconstruction of comic-book art that Spiegelman published in 1978. He explores sources including film noir, Kafka, Winsor McKay, Mr. Potato Head, Picasso, and porn. It also includes his first stab at Maus, from 1972. The work is a summation of competing styles, and a rejection of the caped superheroes of Marvel and DC that were so outré then, and are so culturally dominant now at the movies. There’s an outsider’s anger to this 30-year-old anthology section (Spiegelman supported himself for years by creating the Garbage Pail Kids and the like), a psychological venting—if not a purge. Today, Spiegelman writes of his younger self in the companion essay, “He was on fire, alienated and ignored, but arrogantly certain that his book would be a central artifact in the history of Modernism.” An artifact in his history of Self is more like it. And it’s a keeper. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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