Transitions Used in "Maus"

     The book “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud examines the six different panel-to-panel transitions used in graphic novels.  The first transition is called moment-to-moment and requires little closure, which refers to understanding the whole picture by just observing parts of it.  When using this type of transition, frames literally transition from one moment to the next.  The next type of transition is referred to as action-to-action and features one subject who is completing some action, such as a car driving in one panel and the next panel the car has crashed into a tree.  Another type of transition is called subject-to-subject and refers to panels that remain in the same theme but move from different subjects.  Scene-to-scene is also a type of transition that refers to panels that travel across different settings or time.  A fifth transition is called aspect-to-aspect and shows different aspects of a setting.  Finally, non-sequitur transitions have no logical relationship. (McCloud, 70-72)

Photo by: mikefats

     “Maus” by Art Spiegelman is a popular graphic novel which uses some of these transitions explained by McCloud.  One example of a transition used in this graphic novel is scene-to-scene.  At one point in the story, the father is complaining to his son about the dinner they just ate.  In response, the son tells his father that he just wants to here more about his past, specifically when he was drafted in 1939.  After this scene, the next panel takes the reader right on the battlefield in 1939.  After one more panel, the son interjects to ask his father a question about his army training and the scene returns back to the present day.  Eventually, though, the scene is transformed back to the past. (Spiegelman, 44-46)
     Another example of a transition used in “Maus” is moment-to-moment.  In the story, the son and his wife are in bed when the phone rings.  From that point the panels show the son reach over to the phone, answer the phone, talk to into the phone with his father’s dialogue coming out of the phone, hanging up the phone, and then speaking to his wife and getting out of bed.  There is very little movement of characters and closure between panels.  Most of the picture is drawn out for the reader. (Spiegelman,

Photo by: Virany

     A final type of transition used in “Maus” is action-to-action.  At the very beginning of the story, the son is shown as a child roller skating home with his friends.  As he is skating, his skate becomes lose and he falls to the ground as friends quickly skate away from him.  In this scene, one subject is performing an action in one panel that leads to a consequence in the next panel. (Spiegelman, 5)  Overall, the author is effective in using different transitions to tell his story.  Although he tends to use many scene-to-scene transitions and moment-to-moment transitions, he mixes it up by using others at times as well.


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