My latest article is up at the above link. It begins:
In 1977, Art Spieglman was a 29-year-old cartoonist whose work over the previous decade had appeared in a dozen underground comix, a few alternative newspapers, some second-tier skin magazines, and Arcade, a monthly he and fellow UG cartoonist Bill Griffith had launched in 1975 – and folded seven issues later. This work had brought Spiegelman little notice or acclaim. Les Daniels Comix (1970) ignored him. Patrick Rosenkranz’s Artsy Fartsy Funnies (1974) credited his primary contribution to the culture to be the serial masturbator Jolly Jack Jackoff. Clay Geerdes’ The Underground Comix Family Album, photographs taken between 1972 and 1982, excluded him. In A History of Underground Comics (1974, rev. ed. 1987), Mark James Estrin displayed the title panel from a three-page story by Spiegelman in Funny Animals (1972) about a mouse whose father – like Spiegelman’s – was a concentration camp survivor; but if Estrin saw anything special in “Maus,” which was the name of that story, I missed it. The bulk of Spiegelman’s income came from work for Topps Chewing Gum, Inc.