Art Spiegelman Says Marvel Demanded He Remove Reference to Donald Trump as the 'Orange Skull'
Ike Perlmutter, chair of Marvel Comics, and his wife Laura Perlmutter, are two of Donald Trump's biggest donors. Ike is a member of Trump's Mar-A-Lago club in Florida, and personal friends of the man – sitting with him at Thanksgiving dinner rather than Trump's own family members. And, on election, made part of the administration, working in Veterans Affairs, part of a group that have received criticism for increasing private involvement of veteran healthcare issues.
While a few years ago, before Trump was elected President of the United States of America, Marvel Comics seemed happy to publish satirical digs against him, such as in this Spider-Gwen Annual.
Marvel Comics soon began to row back on that. Bleeding Cool identified that Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung's Marvel Two-In-One had a joke the referenced an 'orange monster' removed and since then no oblique reference to Donald Trump has seen publication.
It is in this light it seems that Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, says that he was asked to remove criticism of Donald Trump from his introduction to the upcoming Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949 published by Folio Editions.
In tomorrow's Guardian newspaper he writes that that he wrote about 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, concluding "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."
He states that that the Folio Society told him that Marvel Comics was trying to stay apolitical, "and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance". He was told that he had to remove the sentence referring to the Red Skull or his introduction would not be published. He pulled the essay, and it will run tomorrow in the Guardian newspaper in full instead.
He tells the paper "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. 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."
He also mentions that Marvel chair 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." And that Spiegelman he has been forced to learn "yet again that everything is political".
Marvel: The Golden Age 1939–1949 now carries an introduction by former Marvel editor and current Conan writer Roy Thomas, is published in September.