To each their own... That's a phrase that Bill Maher uses in a blog he decided to type, trashing fans of Stan Lee and comic books. He also goes on to say things like “I have nothing against comic books…” and that “we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff.” This has, needless to say, caused major outrage among the culture. If he has nothing against comic books, why the article? Also, what dumb things are we using our smarts on? Because I can promise you that half the people who work for companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple are fans of comic books. Stan Lee is an inspiration and a pioneer. So to Bill Maher I say, shame on you. You should have stayed in your lane and continued to speak on things you mildly understood.
Fun Facts: Franklin was introduced to the Charlie Brown comic strip in response to Martin Luther King Jr. being assassinated. The X-Men were created as a comic book representation of what African Americans were going through with the Civil Rights movement. Captain America’s first introduction was in correlation to Nazis and World War I. So as readers, we don’t “pretend” that comic books are sophisticated and carry some deeper meaning. We know. From the depth of a run titled “Identity Crisis” that dealt with rape, the importance of family, and domestic hardships to “Civil War” that dealt with the ethics of a variety of things. Including government reaction to terror attacks and people’s privacy vs security. To believe that comic books have no depth to them is like believing that the earth is flat. Even more recent titles like Mister Miracle that deals with suicide and the feeling of just wanting to escape your life. Or Heroes in Crisis that touches on a mass shooting and the PTSD side of being a hero. A great deal of comic book titles entertain, however, many carry a deeper message.
What Maher needs to do is understand that comic books are art. And I’m not just talking pictures and panels. I’m talking works of art. Much like The Starry Night or The Creation of Adam. Comic books elicit emotion and in many cases force us to think or look at the world objectively. The same way “big-boy books” do Bill. In fact, many writers that have scribed comic books are best selling artist. Brad Meltzer, Jodi Picoult, and Alan Moore to name a few.
And let’s play Devil’s advocate for a second. Let’s say for a second that comic books are nothing more than picture books used to entertain. Let’s go further and even suggest that Stan Lee did nothing more than create fictional characters that entertained generations. Well, that man died and regardless of how, and regardless of content; that man touched millions of lives with his creativity. And what's more, that man is just that. Our fellow man. A human being. And another human being died a few days ago and people are in mourning. To hit your Blog to take shots at people who are expressing feelings about what that man meant to them is just down right deplorable. And a slap in the face to his family that may even find comfort or solice in know they're family member meant so much to so many.
Comic books were the start of a culture. A culture that Stan Lee helped to foste, shape and define. Something that gave nerds, geeks, and outcasts a piece of joy. Something that kept some of us out of trouble or off the streets. Something that inspired and motivated some to do more or to follow their dreams. So what's the issue with people expressing their feelings? Why try to kick them while they're down?
See, Maher suggests that those of us who have been touched by comic books in one way or another are the reason that Donald Trump is President. However, his callous comments got me thinking, and I came to a conclusion of my own. One might not believe it but, I know your body of work Bill, and knowing that and what you promote, I don’t think it’s a huge Mr. Fantastic style stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country where a man like you has a show on HBO that promotes Islamophobia, sexism, and fear-mongering. Maher would like to pretend that he’s so much better than Trump, yet Maher uses his platform to bash those who believe in things that he does not. The cold hard truth is Bill, You and Trump are cut from the same cloth, the only difference is the tailor.