Got this in a forwarded email today and thought you folks might enjoy reading it.
An interview with Corriere della Sera
Art Spiegelman decided to leave the New Yorker, in
protest to what he calls "the widespread conformism of
the mass media in the Bush era." "The decision to leave
was mine alone," the author of Maus, the saga of Jewish
mice exterminated by Nazi cats that won him the
Pulitzer Prize (the first given to a comic book),
explained in an interview with the Corriere della Sera.
"The director of the New Yorker, David Remnick, was
shocked when I announced my resignation. He attempted
to dissuade me. But I told him that the kind of work
that I'm now interested in doing is not suited to the
present tone of the New Yorker. And, seeing that we are
living in extremely dangerous times, I don't feel like
stooping to compromise."
(Q) Do you also consider yourself a victim of Sept. 11?
"Exactly so. From the time that the Towers fell, it
seems as if I've been living in internal exile, or like
a political dissident confined to an island. I no
longer feel in tune (agreement) with American culture,
especially now that the entire media has become
conservative and tremendously timid. Unfortunately,
even the New Yorker has not escaped this trend: Remnick
does not feel up (able) to accept the challenge, while,
on the contrary, I am more and more inclined to
(Q) What kind of provocation?
I am working on the sixth installment of my new strip,
"In the shadow of no tower," inspired both by memories
of Sept. 11 -- on that day, I had just left my apt, a
few steps from the tragedy - and a present in which one
feels equally threatened by both Bush and Osama. The
series was commissioned by the German newspaper "Die
Zeit", but here in the USA, only the Jewish magazine
"The Forward" has agreed to publish it.
(Q) Did you feel snubbed by the refusal of the New
Yorker to publish it?
Not at all. I knew from the beginning that the tone and
content of the strip -- what, at this point in time, is
of most concern to me -- were not in harmony with those
of the New Yorker. A wonderful magazine, mind you, with
delightful and refined covers, but also incredibly
deferential (obsequious) to the present administration.
If I were content to draw harmless strips about
skateboarding and shopping in Manhattan, there would
have been no problem; but, now, my inner life is
inflamed with much different issues.
(Q) For what do you reproach the New Yorker?
For marching to the same beat as the New York Times and
all the other great American media that don't criticize
the government for fear that the administration will
take revenge by blocking their access to sources and
information. Mass media today is in the hands of a
limited group of extremely wealthy owners whose
interests don't coincide at all with those of the
average soul living in a country (USA) where the gap
between rich and poor is now unbridgeable. In this
context, all criticism of the administration is
automatically branded unpatriotic and un-American. Our
media choose to ignore news that in the rest of the
world receives wide prominence; if it were not for the
Internet, even my view of the world would be extremely
(Q) Then the Bush revolution has triumphed?
Yes. In Reagan's time, "liberal" was a dirty word and
to be accused of such an offense was an insult. In the
Bush jr. era, the radical right so overwhelmingly
dominates the debate that the Democrats have all had to
move to the right just to be able to continue the
(Q) Will the New Yorker be the same without Spiegelman?
The New Yorker existed long before I came on board. The
great majority of the readers who adore the warm and
relaxing bath of their accustomed New Yorker (probably,
in English, a contemptuous illusion to the hot tub)
were very upset by the "shock treatment" of my covers.
These readers will feel more at ease with the calm and
subdued (submissive) New Yorker of the tradition which
from the Twenties mixed intelligence, sophistication,
snobbery, and complaisance with the status quo. Every
time that I put pencil to paper, I was flooded with
letters of protest.
(Q) Which of your works caused the most controversy?
The cover with the atomic bomb issued on the 4th of
July. The one from last Thanksgiving where turkies fell
from military aircraft. The only one universally well-
received was the Sept. 24 cover with the Twin Towers in
two-toned black. The censorship of my work began as
soon as I first set foot in the magazine, long before
the 11th of September.
(Q) What kind of censorship?
Large and small. For the Thanksgiving cover with
turkies dropped in the place of bombs, I chose the
title "Operation Enduring Turkey" to mimic "Operation
Enduring Freedom" then begun by America in Afghanistan.
But David Remnick forced me to change the title.
(Q) Is it possible that the media is more reactionary
than their readers?
I don't think so at all, not after reading in the polls
that George W. Bush is the most admired man in America.
The world I see is very different from what they see.
Those who think like me are condemned to the margins
because the critical alternative press of the Vietnam
War era no longer exists. The NYT chose to remain
silent about the enormous protest marches that took
place during the summer; and the readers of The Nation,
the only newspaper with any guts, are at most 50
thousand: nothing in a country as large as ours.
(Q) What does your wife Francoise Mouly, the artistic
director of the New Yorker, think of all this.
She thinks that I've left her at the New Yorker as a
hostage, but I don't think she wants to follow my
example. Sometimes, I think I would like to emigrate to
Europe; and seeing that in America they won't even let
me smoke, the temptation is very great.
Q) Your plans after the New Yorker?
In May, at the Nuage Gallery in Milano, there will be
an exhibition that covers my ten years at the New
Yorker. Ten is a better number than eleven and, who
knows, perhaps I left the magazine simply because it
better suited the book and catalog that accompany the