Friday, October 30, 2009

Mickey Mouse Comics Drawn by Concentration Camp Prisoner

I saw this on Boing Boing Mickey Mouse comics drawn by concentration camp prisoner. Here's the abstract of a paper:

"Gurs, near the Pyrenees, was the largest camp in the occupied zone of France. In spite of the deplorable conditions in the camp, cultural activities flourished, as in other French internment camps in both zones. In addition to conferences, concerts and plays, this extensive artistic creativity included the works of several artists, who produced drawings and watercolours and mounted exhibitions. The artists, who were political and/or racial refugees, used their works of art, through irony and satire, as a means of protest against the French authorities, who, contrary to hopes and expectations, had turned out to be a collaborator of the Nazi regime. Among the many works of art produced in Gurs those of Horst Rosenthal (Breslau 1915 - Auschwitz 1942?) deserve special attention. He left behind two graphic novels - Mickey au Camp de Gurs - Publie sans l'authorisation de Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse in the Gurs Internment Camp - Published without Walt Disney's Permission) and Le Journe d'un hberg: Camp de Gurs 1942 (A Day in the Life of a Resident: Gurs Internment Camp, 1942) (Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine, Paris). Each of these booklets vividly depicts daily life in Gurs. The former is narrated from the point of view of Mickey Mouse, while the latter is written in fairy tale style as a 'book of hours', with an omnipresent author who records and illustrates a day in the life of the young 'resident'. The humorous cartoon-like images, together with the nave, amusing and 'childish' texts, stand in sharp contrast to the harsh reality of the camp, thus enhancing the criticism which lies behind them. In an ironical twist of history, Rosenthal's Mickey Mouse can be seen as the forerunner of Art Spiegelman's Maus, but, tragically, Rosenthal did not survive to witness his artistic legacy."

And here's the paper online which begins with a page of the comics. I want to see more of the comics.

1 comment:

Irina said...

Gurs is yet another concentration camp that I've never heard of. The sheer number of them just blows one's mind...

Mickey Mouse was Maurice Sendak's childhood hero. I heard Sendak on NPR singing praises to Mickey, how brave and brightly colored he was, how smart... The man is over 80 now, lived through absolute hell, and he is still smitten with Mickey. I almost cried.