Maus Creator Withdraws From Marvel Project Over His Refusal to Remove Trump Criticisms

Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Maus, has withdrawn his introduction essay for the Folio Society's Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949 collection after he was asked to remove criticisms of President Donald Trump from the piece.

According to The Guardian (via Boing Boing), Spiegelman had previously been asked to write an introduction for the collection and in his essay, he explored Marvel's political background, specifically examining how the stories and offerings from the publisher both during and immediately after World War II were used by creators to deal with political issues -- including Nazis and fascism. He then took things one step further in connecting the past with the present and referred to Trump in comparison, noting that an "Orange Skull haunts America", a nod to both Captain America villain the Red Skull as well as 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," Spiegelman wrote.

Spiegelman turned in his essay at the end of June but was later contacted by a Folio Society editor who informed him that Marvel Comics wanted to stay "apolitical" and asked him to remove or otherwise edit the Red Skull/Orange Skull reference or it wouldn't be published. Instead of making changes, Spiegelman opted to withdraw the piece entirely.

"I was asked to alter or remove the sentence that refers to the Red Skull or the intro could not be published," Spiegelman wrote. "I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travelers, 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."

While the essay will not appear in the Folio Society collection, it was published in full in The Guardian along with his explanation as to why as well as a bit of additional information -- specifically concerning Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter. Spiegelman brought up Perlmutter's personal friendship with Trump, as well as additional, financial connections between the two.

"A revealing story serendipitously showed up in my news feed this week," Spiegelman wrote in his Guardian piece. "I learned that the billionaire chairman and former CEO of Marvel Entertainment, 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. I’ve also had to learn, yet again, that everything is political... just like Captain America socking Hitler on the jaw."

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Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his graphic novel Maus which tells the story of his father, Vladek, and his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The story famously uses mice to represent Jews and cats to represent Germans.

Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949, is set to be published in September, now with an introduction by Marvel editor Roy Thomas.