One of the things to love about the geek community, especially among women, is that we often share similar political viewpoints. Many nerds today are politically savvy and watch today’s current political satirists like Steven Colbert, Trever Noah, and Jon Stewart.
Recently, one of the most popular political satirists and commentators, Bill Maher, made some remarks about comic book fans after the recent death of the comic book icon Stan Lee. Maher’s initial comments, originally posted on his blog, upset fans all over the globe.
Maher then doubled down on his criticism of the fan community during a Larry King Live interview where King brings up Maher’s initial blog post and Maher proceeds to “clarify” his comments.
In Maher’s most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, he opens his famous New Rules with an editorial:
“…about Stan Lee who, if you missed it, died in November. And a few days later, I posted a blog that in no way was an attack on Mr. Lee but took the occasion of his death to express my dismay at people who think comic books are literature and superhero movies are great cinema and who, in general, are stuck in an everlasting childhood. Bragging that you’re all about the Marvel Universe is like boasting your mother still pins your mittens to your sleeves.”
He continued his New Rules rant with more commentary about the childish nature of comic book fans:
“Can we stop pretending that the writing in comic books is so good? Oh, please. Every superhero movie is the same thing — a person who doesn’t have powers, gets them, has to figure out how they work, and then has to find a glowy thing. […] “I’m sorry, but if you’re an adult playing with superhero dolls, I’m sorry – I mean collectible action figures – why not go all the way and drive to work on a Big Wheel?”
The comic book community is fighting back. Fans, and industry professionals have taken to social media to return fire on the insults lobbed by Maher.
Peter David, the prolific comic book writer, best known for his award-winning 12-year run on The Incredible Hulk and the co-creator of the character Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099, Greg Capullo, illustrator on Batman, Dark Nights: Metal, Kurt Busiek, writer for The Avengers, Action Comics, and Gail Simone, writer for Domino and Batgirl, have all posted their thoughts on the matter. None so thoroughly as Peter David, however.
In a Facebook post, David wrote:
“Bill Maher has informed us, both on Twitter and again last night, that comic books are for kids and that fans of them are basically stunted individuals who are unable to accept adulthood.
So let’s talk about fans.
Fans love to argue. They are particularly big on arguing who their heroes can defeat. And periodically they gather in large crowds, sometimes numbering over 50,000. They pay ridiculous entry fees to get in, and many of them dress up like their favorites. In the places where they gather, they cheer on their respective faves, chant together, eat and hang together. They buy a ton of merchandise, dropping hundreds of dollars at a time. And if they’re lucky, they get autographs and go home happy. Hell, on rare occasions they even attend parades dedicated to their heroes.
And that’s just Mets fans. […]
[…] I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: comic books aren’t juvenilia. Comic books are modern myths. The definition of a myth is something that is defined within its own essence. If you ask someone, “Who is Gomez Addams?” they will reply, “He’s a character created by cartoonist Charles Addams.” IF you say, “Who is Superman?” people will likely respond, “He’s a superhero, the last son of Krypton, with the secret identity of Clark Kent.” In the same way that if you ask who Hercules is, you’ll be told that he is a half-god born of Zeus having an affair with a mortal. You don’t put it in context of its creation; you define it as itself. People who find Spider-Man fascinating are just as valid and adult in their interests as someone who studies Arthurian legend. The fact that it’s happening in modern time and we know who the creators are doesn’t make it any less mythic.”
Kevin Smith (who’s been on Maher’s show), was far more tame when he took to Twitter to let us know that Maher (as stated by Maher himself) is a confirmed stoner and total pussycat when the cameras are off. Both men are comics and seem to have no issues riffing off one another and not taking the comments to heart.
The rest of the industry has not been so kind. Neil Gaiman, the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Award winning author accused Maher of trolling and being upset that more people were upset by Stan Lee’s passing than cared about Maher while he was still alive.
Marvel Comics Joe Queseda invited Maher to join him at a tribute to Stan Lee on January 30, 2019, and when he didn’t respond, Queseda trolled Maher on his Twitter account from the event.
The comic book community is less than happy with Maher right now and it appears that Maher will not back down. But neither will the fans.