Maus author says he was told the comics giant – whose chairman is a prominent Trump supporter – was trying to remain apolitical.
By Alison Flood
The Guardian (8/16/19)
Art Spiegelman, the legendary graphic novelist behind Maus, has claimed that he was asked to remove criticism of Donald Trump from his introduction to a forthcoming Marvel book, because the comics publisher – whose chairman has donated to Trump’s campaign – is trying to stay “apolitical”.
Spiegelman, who won a Pulitzer prize for Maus, his story of the Holocaust, has written for Saturday’s Guardian that he was approached by publisher the Folio Society to write an introduction to Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949, a collection ranging from Captain America to the Human Torch.
Tracing how “the young Jewish creators of the first superheroes conjured up mythic – almost godlike – secular saviours” to address political issues such as the Great Depression and the second world war, Spiegelman finishes his essay by saying: “In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.”
After submitting the essay in June, Spiegelman says he was told by the Folio Society that Marvel Comics was trying to stay apolitical, “and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance”. Neither publisher responded to requests for comment from the Guardian, but Spiegelman claims he was asked to remove the sentence referring to the Red Skull or his introduction would not be published. He pulled the essay, placing it instead with the Guardian.
The author, who compares today’s world events to the rise of fascism in the 1930s, writes …
Banned Essay: Golden Age Of Superhero Comics Were Shaped By The Rise Of International Fascism
After the first Captain America, the German American Bund and America Firsters bombarded the publisher’s offices with hate mail and obscene phone calls.
By Art Spiegelman
The Guardian (8/17/19)
Back in the benighted 20th century comic books were seen as subliterate trash for kiddies and intellectually challenged adults – badly written, hastily drawn and execrably printed. Martin Goodman, the founder and publisher of what is now known as Marvel Comics, once told Stan Lee that there was no point in trying to make the stories literate or worry about character development: “Just give them a lot of action and don’t use too many words.” It’s a genuine marvel that this formula led to works that were so resonant and vital.
“International fascism again looms large … Armageddon seems somehow plausible and we’re all turned into helpless children scared of forces grander than we can imagine, looking for respite and answers in superheroes flying across screens in our chapel of dreams.”
The comic book format can be credited to a printing salesman, Maxwell Gaines, looking for a way to keep newspaper supplement presses rolling in 1933 by reprinting collections of popular newspaper comic strips in a half-tabloid format. As an experiment, he slapped a 10 cents sticker on a handful of the free pamphlets and saw them quickly sell out at a local newsstand. Soon most of the famous funnies were being gathered into comic books by a handful of publishers – and new content was needed at cheap reprint rates. This new material was mostly made up of third-rate imitations of existing newspaper strips, or genre stories echoing adventure, detective, western or jungle pulps. As Marshall McLuhan once pointed out, every medium subsumes the content of the medium that precedes it before it finds its own voice.
Enter Jerry Siegel, an aspiring teenage writer, and Joe Shuster, a young would-be artist – both nerdy alienated Jewish misfits many decades before that was remotely cool. They dreamed of the fame, riches and admiring glances from girls that a syndicated strip might bring, and developed their idea of a superhuman alien from a dying planet who would fight for truth, justice and the values of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Barely out of childhood themselves, the boys’ idea was rejected by the newspaper syndicates as naive, juvenile and unskilled, before Gaines bought their 13 pages of Superman samples for Action Comics at 10 bucks a page – a fee that included all rights to the character. Not only was Siegel and Shuster’s creation the model for the brand new genre that came to define the medium, their lives were the tragic paradigm for creators bilked of the large rewards their creations brought their publishers. …