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Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman to speak at University of Calgary


The Calgary Distinguished Writers
Program, formerly the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Program, will bring
Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winning artist / illustrator and author of MAUS, In the Shadow of No Towers and Breakdowns, to Calgary as the 2011
Calgary Distinguished Visiting Writer.

Spiegelman will give a free public
lecture on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 pm at MacEwan Hall, MacEwan Student
Centre, University of Calgary. In “What
the %@&*! Happened to Comics?” Spiegelman will take his audience on a
chronological tour of the evolution of comics, all the while explaining the
value of this medium and why it should not be ignored.

Spiegelman's comics are best known for their scratch-board, illustrative style
and controversial content. He has almost single-handedly brought comic books
out of the toy closet and onto the literature shelves, especially with his
masterful Holocaust narrative MAUS
which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. MAUS won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and in 2009 was chosen by the
Young Adult Library Association as a recommended title for all students. MAUS II continued the remarkable story
of his parents’ survival of the Nazi regime and their lives later in America. In fall 2011, Pantheon will publish Meta Maus, a companion to The Complete Maus.

Spiegelman and his wife, Françoise Mouly, founded the acclaimed avante-garde
comics magazine RAW, and together
collaborated on numerous comics anthologies, early readers and picture books
for children. His work has been published in many periodicals, including The New Yorker, where he was a staff
artist and writer from 1993-2003. His highly political work, In the Shadow of No Towers, was first
published in a number of European newspapers and magazines including Die Zeit and The London Review of Books. The book version appeared on many
national bestseller lists and was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 100 Notable Books of

In 2005, Spiegelman was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most
Influential People and in 2006 he was named to the Art Director’s Club Hall of
Fame. He was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in
2005 and—the American equivalent—played himself on an episode of “The Simpsons”
in 2008. Last month, Spiegelman
won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only
the third time an American has received the honour.

 The Calgary
Distinguished Writers Program, newly named by the donors and the steering
committee to recognize and celebrate Calgary’s vibrant writing community, aims
to advance the careers of Canadian writers and to invigorate the Calgary
writing community by bringing to the city each year a promising Canadian writer
and writers of international stature. While in Calgary, they divide their time between
writing and community activities. Spiegelman is no exception.

“For almost two decades, the Program
has been supporting writers and writing through residencies that build literary
communities where creative exchange can take place,” says Dr. Kevin McQuillan,
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Chair of the Program’s Steering Committee. “By
bringing major talent like Art Spiegelman to the city, the Program continues as
one of the most important literary institutions in the country.”

Since its inception in 1993, the Program
has brought to Calgary two Nobel Laureates, Derek Walcott and Wole Soyinka, and
such literary luminaries as Oliver Sacks, Timothy Findley, Keri Hulme, Thomas
King, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alberto Manguel, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret MacMillan,
D.M. Thomas and Sir Laurens van der Post, among others. The Calgary
Distinguished Writers Program continues
to be administered through the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts, funded
by an endowment, and governed by a steering committee made up of local writers,
business people, creative writing professors, students and university administrators.

Photo credit: Nadja Spiegelman