The author of the story, he visited his father in hopes of recording his experience of The Holocaust
Art's father, a diabetic and a Holocaust survivor. He told Art about his experience during the Holocaust.
- All Jews Are Cheapskates: Zigzagged. His son and daughter in-law try to convince him to Stop Being Stereotypical. He claims that the Holocaust, when hoarding food and supplies was a matter of life and death, made him that way. Mala comments that she and most of the family's friends are Holocaust survivors, and none of them are anywhere near as stingy as Vladek.
- Determinator: Though luck comes to play frequently in his survival of the Holocaust, Art admits that he admires his resourcefulness and determination to survive. Even when he gets older, he refuses to let heart attacks get in the way of his life; in Volume One, he nearly faints off the roof of his house and then throws his wife into hysterics when he says he wants to go back up there and finish his work!
- Deus ex Machina: Arguably, one of the more disturbing elements of the Holocaust that the book depicts is how often Vladek managed to survive by sheer luck.
- Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Vladek still shows some trouble with speaking English, notably in sentence construction (understandable since he grew up speaking Polish and German). As the book so very clearly shows, he is far from stupid and also speaks the language much better than most Polish Jews, which ends up saving his life at last once.
- Guile Hero: His methods of surviving through the Holocaust can be downright magnificent.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The one picture seen of Vladek, taken some time after he left Auschwitz, shows a quite handsome young fellow who bears some resemblance to Rudolph Valentino.
- Jewish Mother: Writ large, in spite of his being a man. It is never played for laughs, and stops just short of outright emotional abuse.
- No Accounting for Taste: His marriage to Mala. They're constantly fighting; Mala complains about Vladek's cheapness, while he says that she's greedy and only married him to get his money.
Anja Zylberberg Spiegelman
Vladek's wife and Art's mother. She is also a Holocaust survivor.
- Driven to Suicide: Anya, but years after the holocaust, and not only because of it. She also almost committed suicide years before the Holocaust, in severe depression due to post-partum depression after Richieu was born.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Art recalls how she was much less strict in his upbringing than his father was. A specific example was how his father would always make Art eat everything on his plate, even if Art hated it, but Anja would secretly sneak him something he liked to eat.
Francoise Mouly Spiegelman
Vladek's second wife. She is also a Holocaust survivor.
Vladek and Anja's first son.
Vladek's ex-girlfriend before he met Anja and long before the Holocaust.