July 08, 2013

Katz as katz can, the book that never existed.

Katz! Katz! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?



In February 2012, Flammarion found that cats looked like mice.  One fine morning Flammarion the famous publisher realised that Art Spiegelman's MAUS had been undeniably plagiarised.  Same events, same number of pages, same design, same characters except for one little / major detail: all characters in the original book had become cats.  The hand that framed this fearful and unbearable symmetry was soon to be discovered: Ilan Manouach comic book author.


Who would seize the fire should perish in fire. And so it was. All of the copies of Katz which had been secretely published by La 5eme couche, a small and independant Belgian press were declared illegal and were doomed to destruction. All copies (approximately 800) and the electronic files had to be suppressed which was diligently done by the Belgian publisher as part of an agreement with Flammarion which holds the rights to Spiegelman's book.

 So, it was with a deeply twisted heart that Ilan Manouach and his publisher, Xavier Löwenthal, saw the copies shredded and destroyed leaving just a heap of dead paper that they decided to even further destroy.  The furnace was in their brains but when they started to set fire to the paper, the police stopped them and declared it was illegal to burn a fire in an urban space.


So whenever, you take a copy of Maus again and thumb through these volumes, think of the Katz, all the Katz buring bright in the forests of these pages, hiding somewhere behind these gently anthropomorphic animals who are trying to tell one story. Behind Art Spiegelman's story, try and read the other story, the one with just one humanity, one single race in a world which is avoiding differentiation and singularity. No über-katz versus unter-maus. This other version exists somewhere with nobody to see this hidden work. Unless taking of course the original Maus itself and reading behind the lines, looking for the missing images in another dimension.


But still the stars threw some spears and, forgetting their tears, Ilan and Xavier decided to revive the lost book and document some of the memories around it. The Other book was named MetaKatz, a symetrical reference to Spiegelman's MetaMAUS.  Similarly, MetaKatz contains a series of articles and a DVD.  It is now available from La 5eme Couche.

Katz! Katz! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?



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To read more about MetaKATZ: LA 5eme Couche
To read MetaKATZ: Complete PDF

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