Closure and Time Frames: Jennifer Engelke

For blog post number 4, I chose to read the graphic novel Maus I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman. The novel tells the story of the main character’s father’s life. He tells stories about falling in love with the main character’s mother, and what life was like under Hitler. The illustrator and author, Art Spiegelman uses mice as his characters, while his nazi characters are cats. This creates a dynamic of enemy and allies within the two animals. 

Two panels which show closure and scene-to-scene from Chapter 2 Page 33 from Maus I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman.

Closure is when the viewer has to mentally fill in gaps between two panels. This can be seen on page 33 of the novel. Scene-to-scene closure is apparent here. The first panel on the page reads with the father in view, another mouse is telling them about their cousin and what is going on in Germany. The next panel we see is the nazi cats in Germany, which we understand is going on at the same time the mice are discussing. Scene-to-scene we can see two events that are taking place at the same time except in different locations. This type of panels also requires closure from the reader. The reader has to understand that these are both occurring at the same time. The right panel is what the mouse’s cousin is currently experiencing, while the other mice who are not in Germany are not. 

Example which displays time frames from Page 6 from Art Spiegelman’s Maus I: My Father Bleeds History.

Panel from which continues the concept of time frames from page 6 to page 11 in chapter 1 of Maus I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman.

One example of time frames is printed within the first couple of pages in the book. Before the first chapter even starts we view a page of the main character as a child. The character falls and scrapes his knee, then, later on, converses with his dad who is in the front of his home. As the page is flipped we see the table of contents followed by the beginning of chapter 1. The main character has grown up and is now visiting his dad once again, except now he is an adult. The reader must assume that many years have passed. Time Frames are a concept within comics where the reader has to participate in understanding details in which are not given. In this case, the reader has to participate and comprehend the years that took place within these two frames. The boy is no longer a child but is a man. This requires years of growth which the viewer must create in their own mind without seeing it down on paper. 

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