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Dear Netflix

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A pitch for a Maus series
08/03/2015

Dear Netflix photo

Netflix, I see you have branched out from live-action into animation with, ahem, BoJack Horseman. But you also might want to develop an animated series targeted at adults that does not have an alcoholic anthropomorphic horse as the main character, whose best friend is a humanoid dog named Mr. Peanutbutter.

You know, something with a touch more … class.

You will run into a problem. Most works that could be animated -- comic books and graphic novels -- would probably end up being for children, like your many other animated series.

Those works that are not for kids, however, almost always contain adult humans, and so lend themselves best to live action. Take Sin City, Ghost World, American Splendor, V for Vendetta, or even Hellboy. Like those, most in that small category have already been developed into movies, including animations such as Persepolis.

Where will you find a property that is for adults, should be animated … and hasn't been, already?

The first that comes to my mind is Maus. The subject is the Holocaust, which is treated respectfully in the graphic novels -- respectfully enough to be treated honestly.

Moreover, all its characters are depicted as animals. Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, Americans are dogs, and so on. The only way to put this work on a screen would be to animate it.

Maus is a major property with worldwide recognition -- it was just in the news again for being pulled off the shelves in Russia. It has won the Pulitzer (the only graphic novel ever to do so) and was a bestseller, so it comes with both critical and popular adulation.

The subject is certainly weighty enough to stand alongside House of Cards and Marco Polo. It would automatically have the gravitas to win back the critics turned off by BoJack. And it would attract major voice-over talent.

Maus is a finite series, true, but there is enough material in the two novels to stretch to four seasons. And author Art Spiegelman is still alive, so you could bring him on as a writer and consultant -- even director or producer -- so fans would know the work is being given its propers.

Turns out, I'm not the only one clamoring for a Maus series, so the audience is already there.

Spiegelman has been approached about this before, and gone on record saying "no" to an adaptation, as that other article notes.

But Netflix, he's never been approached by you before. As a streaming service, you present the unique opportunity for his creative control. As an adapter and savior of other series, you have shown the sensitivity and respect for an artist's vision that few, if any, other studios have. Spiegelman may listen to you when he has rebuffed others.

Besides, he's in his late 60s now and may realize that he'd rather be around for the adaptation than leave it to others once he's gone. Because it's going to happen. As I noted, it's one of the few major unproduced properties of its type, and people have been begging to see it made for decades.

Think of an animation with the profundity of a Shindler's List on your cue. Think of being hailed as the network that dared put a show about the Holocaust on. Think of the acclaim you'd get from being the ones who taught several new generations about the Holocaust -- and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, globally.

Netflix, give Spiegelman a call. As our people say, it couldn't hurt.

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