What "Maus" did for the Holocaust, "Dog Years" does for mass incarceration in the US. This 32-page graphic novel follows Kurt Vilkas through a two-year prison sentence, where he faces violent gangs, sadistic guards, and the demons of his past. Inspired by Art Spiegelman’s animal stand-ins, inmates are depicted as anthropomorphic dogs to generate empathy and humor. In the end, the prisoners’ human faces are revealed, forcing readers to confront their role in the dehumanization of the incarcerated.
Jeffrey Kronenfeld is a graduate of ASU, having earned a degree in English from The College of Integrative Sciences and the Arts in 2018.