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    Bill Maher, winner of the First Amendment Award, speaks to the crowd at the 26th Annual Literary Awards Festival at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif

    HBO Host Bill Maher Trashes Stan Lee, Blames Comics for Trump’s Election

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    HBO host Bill Maher slammed deceased US cartoon icon Stan Lee, who passed away on Monday, going so far as to blame him for getting Donald Trump elected.

    Shortly after the season finale of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher aired on Friday night, the comedian published a blog post, crushing the comic book industry and Stan Lee in particular.

    READ MORE: The World Mourns as Legendary Marvel Comics' Creator Stan Lee Dies at 95

    “The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning. Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess,” he said in an opening statement. 

    Maher criticized the idea that comic books should be defined as “adult” literature, saying that “when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures.“ The television host suggested that some twenty years ago people decided not to give up “kid stuff,” and pretended that comics were sophisticated literature. 

    “And because America has over 4,500 colleges – which means we need more professors than we have smart people – some dumb people got to be professors by writing theses with titles like Otherness and Heterodoxy in the Silver Surfer. And now when adults are forced to do grown-up things like buy auto insurance, they call it “adulting,” and act like it’s some giant struggle,“ Maher quipped.

    Without detailing how Lee’s contribution has caused America to “get stupider,” Maher stated: “I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.”

    Maher’s words were met with varying levels of amusement and rage on the internet. Most commentators were in a fury over what they interpreted as Maher’s disrespect for a 95-years old creator and comic book legend. Some tweets from fans, comic book authors and illustrators noted that “more people cared about Stan Lee’s death than care about Bill Maher alive.” Others praised the HBO host for getting “the entirety of comics fandom to agree on something” in their anger.

    Whether comic books and graphic novels should be considered adult literature is not new, although in October 2018 the world of literature saw its first graphic novel, Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina, included in the British Man Booker Prize longlist — the first example in the award’s 50-year history. Graphic novels have previously been nominated – and won — the National Book Award, the American equivalent of the Booker. Also, it is impossible not to remember Art Spiegelman’s “Maus,” a story about the Holocaust written in a graphic format, which won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

    Possibly the “comic books” that Maher referred to meant the traditional, serialized publications which Stan Lee’s company, Marvel, is mostly known for. Graphic novels and comics share many artistic and literary characteristics, notes Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, one of the most well-known comic books. Moore suggested that the phrase ‘graphic novel’ be dropped, noting that it is nothing more than a marketing term.


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