A seemingly minor episode in Françoise Mouly’s biography holds special significance for the intersection of comics and the avant-garde during Art Spiegelman’s early career. In 1975, having arrived in New York with only $200 in her pocket and eager to improve her English by reading comics, Mouly had a part in Richard Foreman’s play Pandering to the Masses: A Misrepresentation, performed by his Ontological-Hysteric Theater at 491 Broadway. Despite her shaky command of English, Mouly had no trouble slipping into her role. Almost none of the dialogue was delivered live by the actors. The avant-garde director, seated on the edge of the stage with an electronic keyboard that spliced together music and speech, narrated the entire event. The play was a hit.
My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality.
B. R. Ambedkar