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Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! Hardcover – October 7, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; Reprint edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375423956
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For the last 40 years, comics artist Art Spiegelman has been influential in both pushing the limits of the medium, as well as bringing underground "comix” to the forefront of popular culture. He's perhaps most famous for Maus, the story of his parents' experience in the Holocaust, which earned him a special Pulitzer Prize Letters award in 1992. More recently, his work has appeared in the New Yorker--including the stunning, somber post-9/11 cover--and he was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2005. We sent him a few questions about Breakdowns, and he was kind enough to respond with this handwritten document. See the full image with more questions and answers. [JPEG, 389K]

Art Spiegelman Question 1

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This reprint of Spiegelman's 1978 collection of comics is a must-have for any comics aficionado, art-house dude, hipster or anyone who ever thought to himself, "Hmm, comics are kinda cool." It will also be liked by anyone who ever enjoyed Kafka or anything postmodern enough to be in McSweeney's. There's still enough here for regular people to enjoy, too. The 30-page memoirish introduction, all done in comics (in which we get to see Spiegelman mess up his son's mind the way his was messed up) explains how comics came to be the shining light for so many messed-up adolescent boys: "Mad warped a generation in the bland American 1950s--something that's been done before, but possibly not so well." The early comics are a revelation. Spiegelman gives us the story that led to Maus, and we see how he evolved from an R. Crumb-loving artist with neuroses pertaining to The Dick Van Dyke Show to a tight storyteller of anxious, modern folktales. One of the functions of the artist is to take us to hell and get us out in one piece. Spiegelman's early trips into hallucinatory darkness do this. We come out in one piece; it's not clear he did. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lasiuta on October 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The real title of this book is "Portrait of The Artist as A Young...", but I have taken the artistic liberty to rename it, my reasons shall become clear.

Art Spiegelman is an amazing artist. He is also a tortured artist, ravaged by guilt, and yet, through his work (some of which is self therapy), his genius shines through. As is very clear in 'Breakdowns', this book celebrates the major themes and movements in his life. The suicide of his mother in 1968, the Auschwitz stories his father told, his exposure to Robert Crumb and the underground movement can all be found and traced through the art/text. Primarily a book designed to reprint 'Breakdowns', his 1978 poorly received collection, it is the addition of the pre-and post breakdown material that provides more solid glimpses into his psyche.

If you were to sit Mr Spiegelman down and ask him the question, what is art to him, this book would be your answer. If you were to ask him to plot the major influences in his life, the answer is this book. Ask him about his career as artist for Topps, and he just might not say anything, but everyone remembers those marvelous stickers. As him where Maus came from, he would direct you to the section of Breakdown after the Introduction, and then discuss his father and Uncle. If you were to ask him to lend you $50, the answer would probably be no.... However, as a piece of autobiographical illustrato, it is remarkable for its' passion and poignancy.

Considered a failure in 1978, 'Breakdown' led him to Maus. Today, this book is perfectly timed and a good companion piece to his Pulitzer prize winning tome, and should be considered a successful (if not odd), glimpse into the 'art' of Art.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Billy Pilgrim on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While it is true that this republished collection of Art Spiegelman's early work offers the same material from the 1970's to the early 80's that had previously been published it is important that it was newly rebound by Pantheon (in the original larger format) for those who are unaware of Spiegelman's early comix contributions that for the uninitiated would remain inacessable due to the original 1978 collection being out of print and thus out of view unless one were specifically searching for it. Re-issues are additionaly important for libraries as they can readily acquire new editions, yet rarely purchase out of print volumes for public circulation.

Spiegelman is widely acknowledged in the comic or graphic field as being at the forefront of the underground 'comix' movement and for being a cartoonist who continues to be consistently creative and committed to the medium, and his worldwide distinction within the field of comics is certainly deserved. Breakdowns features several of Spiegelman's early experimentation with the comic medium including collage,manipulation of time, and autobiographical focus. This last topic though very pervasive and popular currently in comics was at the time Spiegelman was exploring it considered underground territory that few creators delved into with those that did, such as Harvey Pekar,Robert Crumb, and Eddie Campbell, continued resisting for (eventual) recognition of the topic as a valid comic subject worthy of wider publication.

On the importance of presenting or rendering time in the sequential medium, Spiegelman has specifically related the work in Breakdowns as representing similar pacing as that of the panels within In the Shadow of No Towers ([...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Sunbury on December 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Art Spiegelman uses his 1978 deluxe large-format album "Breakdowns" as the core of this 2008 autobiographical update to simultaneously expand and contract his world view through the medium which influenced him and through which he influenced a generation of his admirers. The result is kaleidoscopic in form and meaning. Inspir@!ant*Bril-li&!ing! Listen to Michael Silverblatt's interview of Art Spiegelman on KCRW's Bookworm at [...]
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