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Comic Book Store Owner Will Ship ‘Maus’ Free to Anyone Who Requests It in Tennessee District Where It’s Banned

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A previous version of this article referred to a naked mouse depicted in the graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. The illustration in the book actually shows partial female nudity. The article has been corrected.

Comic book store owner Ryan Higgins was a teenager when he read Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust.

The 1986 story and its after tells the harrowing story of the author’s father, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. The books, featuring mice as Jewish prisoners and cats as Nazi oppressors, were quickly among Higgins’ favorites.

“Reading ‘Maus’ opened my eyes,” Higgins said. “I remember thinking, ‘It’s not just about superheroes fighting villains.’ It was heartbreaking and moving, and it opened up a whole new window into something I knew little about.

When Higgins bought the comic plot store in Sunnyvale, California, near San Jose, he decided to ensure the shelves were always well stocked with cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s story detailing his father Vladek Spiegelman’s experiences and the resulting trauma. For 16 years, it has been.

When Higgins learned on January 26 that the McMinn County School Board in Athens, Tennessee, had voted unanimously to ban the graphic novel in middle school classrooms due to the board’s objection to profanity and nudity, he was stunned.

Holocaust graphic novel ‘Maus’ banned from Tennessee County schools for nudity and blasphemy

“It’s so bizarre – the actual images of the Holocaust are the most graphic and nightmarish images in the world,” he added. “Why remove ‘Maus’ from the program when it makes this horror more accessible to a wider and younger audience?”

Higgins, 42, said he knew he had to do something.

Higgins said he had a hunch that sales of the graphic novel would increaseso he quickly ordered 100 copies of “The complete Maus“to give.

“Sick donate up to 100 copies of The Complete Maus to any family in McMinn County Tennessee,” he wrote on Twitter. “Just DM me your address!”

He would also pay the shipping costs.

About 60 students and parents who reside in the McMinn County School District have contacted him asking for copies, he said, and he plans to ship them later this week as soon as his shipment of books arrives. His tweet garnered more than 12,000 likes.

In December, when a Texas School District banned graphic novel »V for Vendetta“and comic series”Y: The Last Man”, Higgins did the same, offering on Twitter to send copies to anyone in the district who wanted them.

“I didn’t get a huge response, but a few people reached out and were happy to get copies,” he said.

But he thought “Maus” might be different.

One of the people Higgins heard of was Malachi Cates, a 15-year-old sophomore at McMinn County High Schoolrequesting a copy through his mother.

Malachi said he felt embarrassed when he looked at his mobile phone last week and saw the global headlines of school board decision-making.

“I was shocked – I couldn’t believe what they had done,” he said. “I had never read the novel, but when I learned it was banned, I knew I had to read it.”

When Malachi searched Twitter about the controversy and came across Higgins’ offer, he went home and asked his mother to request a free copy of “Maus,” he said. .

Cindy Cates, 44, was happy to ask.

“Malachi came home from school very upset that the school board banned the book,” she said. “None of us wanted what he was doing to represent where we come from. They were offended by the language? You kidding me I hope? These kids heard every [swear] word there.

Malachi said he heard about the Holocaust in history class, but he looks forward to reading the personal story told in “Maus.”

“From what I’ve seen online, this is influential work that shows what really happened,” he said. “History shouldn’t be sugar coated – kids need to learn that stuff.”

Hundreds of people left comments on Higgins’ post, with some expressing disgust and dismay at the school board’s decision, while others thanked Higgins for helping get the book into students’ hands. .

“If you need it, I will give you funds for it,” offered a commenter.

Another said banning books should be the least of a school district’s worries: “School shootings, lack of infrastructure, lead in water, underpaid teachers fleeing the profession, curricula and technologies deprecated, oversized classes [and] the best we can do is ban a book about the Holocaust with a naked mouse.

“Let there be no hiding place for those who don’t want children to read that the Holocaust was actually a bad thing,” wrote another.

Higgins said he shares that sentiment.

“When thought-provoking comics and graphic novels are banned, it hits my world,” he said. “Sending free copies of ‘Maus’ is something I can do. If even a child reads it and it changes their world, that’s a wonderful thing.

Growing up in Andover, Massachusetts, Higgins said he enjoyed reading Superman and Spider-Man comics and was thrilled as a teenager to discover graphic novels for an older audience.

After his family moved to Northern California in 1993, he took a job at the comic book store he now owns and developed a deeper appreciation for real-life stories such as “Maus”.

“It’s brilliant work that gets its message across to readers of all ages,” he said. “That’s the thing with comics – they’re great for all age groups. It’s crazy that someone wants to delete ‘Maus’.”

Spiegelman, in an interview with The Washington Post, said the issue is bigger than his books.

Art Spiegelman calls new ban on his book ‘Maus’ a ‘red alert’

“It’s a red alert. It’s not just, ‘How dare they deny the Holocaust?’ “said Spiegelman, 73. “They will deny anything.”

With schools increasingly banning books, he said he viewed the Tennessee school board vote as another “omen of things to come.”

The school board objected to Spiegelman’s illustration of a naked, lifeless woman in a bathtub. The image shows how his mother, Anna Spiegelman – also a Holocaust survivor – died by suicide in 1968.

Higgins said he will send as many graphic novels as possible to students and parents in districts where they have been banned, but he hopes for a day when he doesn’t feel pressured to do so.

“All of this is mind-boggling and makes no sense,” he said. “‘Maus’ should be compulsory for all school children to read – not taken away.”

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