Arthur Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in his early childhood. Spiegelman studied cartooning in high school and started drawing professionally at age sixteen. Despite his parents wanting him to become a dentist, Art Spiegelman majored in art and philosophy at Binghamton University's Harpur College of Arts. After leaving college in 1968, he joined the underground comix movement.
The following decade, Spiegelman became a regular contributor to various underground publications, including Real Pulp, Young Lust and Bizarre Sex. Under a variety of pseudonyms like Joe Cutrate, Skeeter Grant and Al Flooglebuckle he drew creations such as 'Ace Hole, Midget Detective', 'Nervous Rex', 'Douglas Comics' and 'Cracking Jokes'. In 1975, he and Bill Griffith co-founded Arcade, an influential comix revue with artists like Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and Justin Green.
Besides his cartooning career, Art Spiegelman edited several comix magazines. In 1980, he started the magazine Raw with his wife Françoise Mouly. In the pages of Raw, Spiegelman helped reveal important American talents like Mark Beyer, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, J. Otto Seibold, Kaz and Jerry Moriarty, as well as artists from foreign shores such as Ever Meulen, Pascal Doury, Jacques Tardi and Joost Swarte, among others.
With the publication of the first rendition of 'Maus' in Funny Animals in 1972, Spiegelman's career really took flight. 'Maus' was based on the experiences of his parents as concentration-camp survivors. He expanded this premise into a full-blown graphic novel, which he drew from 1980 to 1986, with the Jews presented as mice and the Germans as cats (the Katzies). The book 'Maus: A Survivor's Tale', earned Spiegelman fame. He completed the tale in 1991 with 'Maus II: From Mauschwitz to the Catskills'. Art Spiegelman received the Pullitzer Prize in 1992.
Maus (RAW #7, 1984)
In the 1990s, besides his illustration work for books such as 'The Wild Party' and covers for The New Yorker, Spiegelman has used his editorial skills to put together the children's comics anghology 'Little Lit' together with Françoise Mouly, and he also serves as an advisor on Mouly's 'TOON Books' project. Apart from the contributing members from Raw, the 'Little Lit' series contains work by artists outside the comics field, such as William Joyce, Maurice Sendak, Ian Falconer, Marc Rosenthal, Claude Ponti, David Macaulay, Barbara McClintock and Harry Bliss.
In the wake of the disaster of 11 September 2001, which happened around the corner from where he lives (Greenstreet/Canalstreet), Spiegelman has made a Sunday page format story about the terrorist assault on the World Trade Center in New York, called 'In the Shadow of No Towers'.
Art Spiegelman has been of great importance for the re-appraisal of the comics genre as an adult artform. He won the Grand Prix at the 2011 Angoulême International Comics Festival.