Art Spiegelman’s Maus is one of the few CD-ROMs to make the nascent technology look something like art. Ironically, its creator can’t watch it at home. ”I don’t have a ROM player,” Spiegelman, 46, shrugs, gesturing over his shoulder in his cluttered Manhattan studio. There is, in fact, a Macintosh and CD-ROM drive set up on the kitchenette table, but it’s on loan from Voyager so the avant-garde cartoonist and bad boy of New Yorker covers (he’ll let you see the banned Peeing Santa if you ask nicely) can show off the latest permutation of his father’s story of survival.
Spiegelman admits that when the company approached him to expand his Holocaust tale with working sketches and research materials, he had only a vague idea of the possibilities. ”My idea was-click-these 35,000 pieces of paper are now going to be on one little disc. I found out that was naive. It’s only 5,000.” While he doesn’t think the CD-ROM will replace the experience of reading the books, neither does he think high tech spoils Maus’ magic. ”The magic is an amazing thing to me, but it takes place without attendance,” he says. ”The magic being that, somehow, you pick up a comic book, and a story takes place in your head. (With CD-ROM) you can show what’s up your sleeve, where all the wires are, exactly where you keep all the rabbits before they come out of the hat. And then, if the rabbit still seems to come out of the hat, isn’t that even better?”