Doug, I think your analogy of the grave and the tattoo on the earth is perfect. Yet, I want to analyze the image further. The “cartoon” of the grave stone and symbol of death conveys the ending without the methodical “the end” to conclude the cartoon. It serves to compliment the book and reflect the entire cartoon as a grave stone. The book is not a grave stone, but like one it continues to live to both immortalize his father, the Holocaust, and also allow Spiegelmen to move on. So he both recognizes his past and continues to live his life. The book too, symbolizes a tattoo on the world, and a unification with Spiegelman’s past and continuation of his future.
The image on pg116 paradoxically conveys a broken image, but also collaboration on the page. The images of Validks broken body conveys Spiegelman’s guilt about his own separation and lack of understanding for his father. Spiegelman could have easy “broken” the image of Valdik by dividing the pieces among two different pages in order to convey his guilt, but the image is on one even though the pieces appear separately. The book collects the images and allows Spiegelman to convey his guilty feelings, but also his reconciliation.