Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More from Art Spiegelman

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 1:04 PM

click to enlarge Spiegelman returned to the U.S. during the polar vortex, but said New Yorkers like himself are "sissies" about six-degree weather. - ENNO KAPITZA - AGENTUR FOCUS
  • Enno Kapitza - Agentur Focus
  • Spiegelman returned to the U.S. during the polar vortex, but said New Yorkers like himself are "sissies" about six-degree weather.
There's a little bit more to our interview with Pulitzer winner Art Spiegelman than we could fit in this week's print edition. So, here's some extras, mostly having to do with Spiegelman's trip to Cuba, a topic of which he may create another work.

Our conversation began with the usual niceties, and a discussion of the weather, and the week we talked, it was actually rather unusual, and contributed to a sense of culture shock that rattled the comic book author.

Here, we pick up right where the print edition left off:

Indy: That’s true. Now, why were you in Cuba?
AS: I needed to see it before it gets turned back into a casino. I may be doing a work about it. I’ll figure that out when my brain settles a little more. But I’m just interested in it. It’s like sort of this alternate universe, it’s a world in which communism is still sort of alive, socialism certainly. And against all odds it’s a world where they have almost nothing except they have a far lower infant mortality rate than Americans have and people live longer and they don’t have anything. It’s hard to get food there even in a way. Less so, this minute, than it was, but still, I mean, it’s not like a country that’s got a McDonald’s on every corner. And people are living in a, I don’t know, they’re just living in a way very different from what’s going on here. When I came back I really had culture shock; Americans just seemed so aggressive to me.

Indy: I imagine so.
AS: As soon as I got back to the Miami airport. It was chaotic in the Cuban airport but the American airport was just downright mean, even when people were smiling.

Indy: I know what you mean.
AS: Something weird going on. Part of it is just like ... Even though it’s changing a lot in Cuba, it still has this thing were, there’s an assumed ‘we’re all in this together’ quality to everything that happens. I’m not trying to make it an idealistic thing, but there’s a kind of concern one with the other that you see in the people you meet and on the street that’s not part of what I experience here usually. And that’s worth something, even if they’re somewhat afraid of talking about their political situation because in the past that’s led to prisons.

Indy: And I guess it’s going to be more capitalized?
AS: Well, I really wanted to see it before it gets turned back into a casino, you know, it’s very possible that that can happen and is happening even because their only business now is tourism. And except for America, people go there from Europe quite easily and happily. But they have sugar, they have tobacco, they have rum and I think I just listed everything that they have. And they have tourists now.

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