The Folio Society has announced a series of volumes paying tribute to the history of Marvel Comics, the inaugural volume was originally scheduled to feature an introduction from Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus and the first person to ever win a Pulitzer Prize for a graphic novel.
Marvel is a division of Disney, and its chairman, Isaac 'Ike' Perlmutter, is a longtime personal friend of Donald Trump, donated to Trump's campaign, and serves Trump as an "unofficial and influential advisor." Spiegelman's intro made reference to this fact, and tied the origin of Marvel with its thin-veiled allegories about fighting fascism, to the contemporary moment, comparing Trump to the golden age Marvel villain "Red Skull" and dubbing him "Orange Skull."
In response, Disney/Marvel demanded that Spiegelman redact his essay, removing references to Trump. The corporation said that it was trying to be "apolitical…and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance."
Spiegelman refused to make the change and instead severed ties with the project. His unredacted essay will appear this weekend in The Guardian.
The author, who compares today's world events to the rise of fascism in the 1930s, writes: "I didn't think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travellers, 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.
"International fascism again looms large … 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," he writes. "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 writer and artist closes his essay by pointing out that Marvel Entertainment chairman, the US billionaire Isaac 'Ike' 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, Florida. 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 adds that he has been forced to learn "yet again that everything is political".
Art Spiegelman's Marvel essay 'refused publication for Orange Skull Trump dig' [Alison Flood/The Guardian]