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American comix have come of age twice: in the 1960s, with R. Crumb leading a pack of cartoonists who wrote and drew stories for adults, about adults, and with adult themes; and in the 1980s, with the publication of RAW, “the comics magazine for damned intellectuals.” Designed and edited by cartoonist Art Spiegelman and his wife, Francoise Mouly, RAW is where Spiegelman first serialized his comic Maus. The story of his father’s life in Poland during World War II, Maus also documents Spiegelman’s own guilt (at never having survived anything as terrible as what his father endured in the camps) and self-doubt (should he be using his father’s experiences as material for a mere comic book?). Without question the most important work of sequential art of the last 20 years, Maus is all the more remarkable for the fact that Spiegelman drew his characters not as humans, but as animals. In Maus, Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, and Poles are pigs. It’s an audacious subversion of traditional funny-animal cartoon characters (Tom and Jerry, for instance, or Mickey Mouse)—and a conceit that manages to both personalize and universalize Spiegelman’s narrative. Since Maus, the cartoonist has done plenty—he’s painted covers for The New Yorker and illustrated Joseph Moncure March’s jazz poem “The Wild Party,” for example—but nothing approaches the Pulitzer Prize-winning work in depth, maturity, and honesty. Spiegelman discusses his work and career at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at the Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston. $15. (703) 476-4500. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)