Cartoonist Art Spiegelman revealed the demand in a tweaked version of his essay published in The Guardian. The essay, originally intended to introduce “Marvel The Golden Age 1939-1949,” focused on the importance of Marvel characters during Nazi Germany and World War II and its aftermath. Spiegelman’s dark “Maus” is an animal fable of his Jewish father’s experience in the Holocaust.
He argued in the version of the essay published Saturday that Marvel superheroes with their American values of freedom and truth, fairness and generosity, burst into life as a foil to fascism. Their creators, largely Jewish immigrants or from immigrant families in New York, “conjured up mythic — almost godlike — secular saviors” to fight for justice, like the time Captain America punches Adolf Hitler in the face. The artists were highly attuned to anti-Semitism, and believed in welcoming “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Spiegelman noted.
The characters still speak to the dark politics of modern times, he added, drawing a parallel between the enemies of the superheroes created then — and Trump.
“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,” Spiegleman wrote in a reference to the president.
“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.”
Spiegelman said he was told in June to remove the Trump reference by The Folio Society, which was handling the publication, claiming Marvel aimed to be “apolitical.”
“I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travelers,” Spiegelman wrote in The Guardian. “But when asked to kill a relatively anodyne reference to an Orange Skull I realized that perhaps it had been irresponsible to be playful about the dire existential threat we now live with, and I withdrew my introduction.”
Spiegelman pointed to an interesting link between Marvel and Trump — and politics. Billionaire chairman and former CEO of Marvel Entertainment Isaac Perlmutter is a longtime friend of Trump who reportedly advises the president on how to run the government when they meet at Mar-a-Lago.
“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 noted.
The artist added: “I’ve ... had to learn, yet again, that everything is political ... just like Captain America socking Hitler on the jaw.”
Neither The Folio Society nor Marvel could immediately be reached for comment.
You can read the rest of Spiegelman’s essay here.