It's quite typical: The parents want their only (remaining) child to become a doctor but the son decides to study arts instead. But not everyone becomes such an awarded, controversial and idiosyncratic cartoonist like Art Spiegelman.
Arthur Spiegelman was born in Sweden where his jewish parents moved to after WW2. Both survived concentration camps. His older brother and the rest of his family did not survive the German occupation of Poland.
Later the Spiegelmans immigrate to the US and have a hard time to settle down.
Without any doubt, Art's most recognized work is "Maus", a two-volume comic book in which he asks his father to tell him how he survived Auschwitz. Not only used Spiegelman a "low" and entertaining genre, the comic strip or book, for serious material. With a clear link to an infamous Nazi propaganda film, which compared Jews to rats, he also reduces the players to mice (Jews), cats (Germans), dogs (the Americans) and pigs (the Poles). Could this work or merely provoke protest? It did work. Maus became a financial success and Art Spiegelman was awarded with the Pulitzer Price.
Later, Spiegelman designed cover arts for The New Yorker: Often playful and humerous and at the same time controversial (after publishing a painting in which an orthodox Jew kisses a black woman he even received death threats .. weird).
I like this one, too:
And who would forget the famous cover of The New Yorker after 9/11? Totally black with the twin towers in a "deeper" black than the surrounding black and barely visible.
(Trust me. It was actually a black-on-black painting. No blue at all.)
After working almost entirely for The New Yorker for many years, Spiegelman wanted to start with something new. Also, after 9/11, it became difficult for him to get his non-mainstream paintings published, even though The New Yorker is a liberal magazine.
When he quit working, Michael Naumann, chief editor of the German weekly Die Zeit and a personal friend of Spiegelman, invited him to design a whole tabloid sized page per month. Spiegelman then choosed to create a comic-styled series called "In the Shadow of No Towers". In this series, Spiegelman takes readers into the artist's thoughts struggling with the aftermath of September 11. Again, Spiegelman plays with symbols virtuosly.
Today, on Sept. 11, 2003, Art Spiegelman's last contribution to Die Zeit appeared.