Cheers to Art Spiegelman:
Censored by Marvel Comics for Comparing Trump to the Nazis of the 1930s-40s



Art Spiegelman is an acclaimed graphic novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, based on his father’s experience as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust, and the effect it had on him for the rest of his life. Maus was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer. Spiegelman is also a scholar of comics and graphic literature.

Spiegelman was asked by publisher The Folio Society to write an introduction to a soon-to-be-published book, Marvel: The Golden Age, 1939-1949, a collection of comics ranging from Captain America to The Human Torch.

Spiegelman submitted an essay that among other things examined the role such comics played for youth in the tumultuous and often terrifying years of the depression and World War 2, providing them

with mythic—almost god-like—secular saviours to deal with the threatening economic dislocations that surrounded them in the great depression and gave shape to their premonitions of impending global war. Comics allowed readers to escape into fantasy by projecting themselves on to invulnerable heroes.

Spiegelman went on to say:

Auschwitz and Hiroshima make more sense as dark comic book cataclysms than as events in our real world. 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. International fascism again looms large (how quickly we humans forget—study these golden age comics hard, boys and girls!) and the dislocations that have followed the global economic meltdown of 2008 helped bring us to a point where the planet itself seems likely to melt down. 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.

After submitting the essay, Spiegelman was informed by the publisher that Marvel demanded that he remove the reference to Trump (the “Orange Skull” that “haunts America”) or they would not publish his essay. It turns out that the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac Perlmutter, is a close friend, a close adviser, and major financial supporter of Trump.

Spiegelman refused to give in to this censorship, and instead withdrew his essay. Afterwards he wrote in The Guardian:

I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travellers, but when asked to kill a relatively anodyne [inoffensive] 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.

He added that he has been forced to learn “yet again, that everything is political.”

Art Spiegelman


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