For some reason, maybe the heavy Jewish influence on early comic books, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman was contracted to write the introduction to Marvel: The Golden Age 1939 – 1949, a high end reprinting of five early Marvel superhero comics.
so it all started innocently when i accepted a gig to write the introduction to a deluxe collection of golden age marvel comics for the folio society as a way of trying to understand a part of old comic book history I have a blind spot toward…. and then it got complicated.
The complication was that in the final draft of the introduction Art had intermingled one of Captain America’s old Nazi foes with the current President of the United States:
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 (emphasis added). 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.
Art was asked to consider deleting some of his words:
I turned the essay in at the end of June, substantially the same as what appears here. A regretful Folio Society editor told me that Marvel Comics (evidently the co-publisher of the book) is trying to now stay “apolitical”, and is not allowing its publications to take a political stance. I was asked to alter or remove the sentence that refers to the Red Skull or the intro could not be published. 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 (emphasis added).
Art’s introduction for the Folio Society production has been replaced with another by comics writer/editor, historian, and Golden Age superhero comics reader Roy Thomas.