Marvel may be the surest bet in the movie industry right now, but they’re not perfect. In early August, Armie Hammer made waves for pointing out that current Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac Perlmutter is one of our controversial president’s largest financial contributors. Now Newsweek is reporting that legendary comic book writer Art Spiegelman withdrew his intro to a forthcoming Marvel collection after they demanded he remove a critique of — you guessed it — Donald Trump.
The collection, entitled Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949, collects comics from the company’s infancy, when their superheroes subtly — and sometimes absolutely not subtly — took on the day’s issues. In his since jettisoned intro, Spiegelman — most famous for Maus, considered one of the greatest comics in the medium — wrote about how the Great Depression, World War II, the rise of fascism, and the Holocaust inspired the original Marvel artists, many of them Jewish, to create the “secular saviors” that today dominate the box office.
It wasn’t hard for Spiegelman to tie that back to the present. “In today’s all too real world,” he wrote, “Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.”
As per Newsweek, the Folio Society, the collection’s publisher, demanded Spiegelman remove the Trump reference, claiming Marvel was trying to stay “apolitical.” Spiegelman refused.
“I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travelers,” Spiegelman told The Guardian. “But when asked to kill a relatively anodyne reference to an Orange Skull, I realised that perhaps it had been irresponsible to be playful about the dire existential threat we now live with, and I withdrew my introduction.”
Instead Spiegelman’s essay wound up published in The Guardian on Saturday, which explains how “golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism.” You can read it here.
Spiegelman’s Maus, which was published from 1980 through 1991, tells the story of his father, a Polish Holocaust survivor, with the Jewish characters depicted as mice, the Germans as cats, and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. After being published as a two-volume graphic novel in 1992, it became the first comic to win the Pulitzer Prize.