‘Maus’ creator axes Marvel essay, says company tried to censor Trump reference

U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and 'Maus' creator Art Spiegelman (right). The Canadian Press/Getty

The award-winning graphic novelist behind Maus withdrew his essay for a new Marvel book after the publisher tried to scrap a jab aimed at U.S. President Donald Trump, claiming the comics company is “apolitical.”

Art Spiegelman was tapped to write an introduction to a new Marvel collection titled Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949.

The essay zig-zags through comic book history but focuses on a group of young Jewish men who shaped the first superheroes during a difficult time period.

Spiegelman said the artists “allowed readers to escape” from economic turmoil and war “into fantasy by projecting themselves onto invulnerable heroes.”

For an author who won a Pulitzer Prize for his graphic memoir of the Holocaust, it is a fitting topic. But there was one particular reference that put the essay on ice for Marvel.

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“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,” Spiegelman wrote.

He likens that “all-too-real world” to the spread of fascism in the 1930s.

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“International fascism again looms large (how quickly we humans forget — study these golden-age comics hard, boys and girls!),” he continued.

“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.”

Spiegelman claims Marvel asked him to remove the sentence, and if not, the essay would not be published.

“A regretful Folio Society editor told me that Marvel Comics (evidently the co-publisher of the book) is trying to now stay ‘apolitical’ and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance,” he wrote in The Guardian.

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Marvel Entertainment is separate from Marvel Studios. The studios are responsible for movies, whereas Marvel Entertainment does licensing deals for toys, books and games.

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Spiegelman described the Orange Skull reference as “relatively anodyne” and ultimately chose to withdraw his introduction. Instead, he let the British paper have it.

The essay, published in The Guardian, is “substantially the same” as what Marvel Comics turned down in June, Spiegelman said.

What’s new is a revelation Spiegelman had since his breakup with Marvel — that the billionaire chairman of Marvel Entertainment, Issac “Ike” Perlmutter, is chummy with the U.S. president.

“Perlmutter is a longtime friend of Donald Trump’s, an unofficial and influential adviser and a member of the president’s elite Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. And Perlmutter and his wife have each recently donated $360,000 (the maximum allowed) to the Orange Skull’s ‘Trump Victory Joint Fundraising Committee’ for 2020,” Spiegelman said.

Perlmutter is one of Trump’s largest donors. Described as “one of Trump’s closest confidants in the business community,” Perlmutter, at a net worth of $5.2 billion, has given handsomely to the president.

According to Federal Election Commission records, the Perlmutters donated nearly $600,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign this year, but the pair have long put money behind conservative campaigns.


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