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.
“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.
Maher’s just trolling, and lots of people are rising to the troll. (Julie Burchill did it better 30 years ago with her “There aren’t any adult comics because adults don’t read comics” line.) More people cared about Stan Lee’s death than care about Bill Maher alive. https://t.co/yRzFCYQBzl— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) 17 ноября 2018 г.
Bill Maher has done the impossible: gotten the entirety of comics fandom to agree on something— G. Willow Wilson (@GWillowWilson) 17 ноября 2018 г.
I never speak on topics I know little or nothing about. Why? I never want to be the fool. In other words, I don’t wanna make a Bill Maher out of myself. 🤘🏻✏️🤘🏻— Greg Capullo (@GregCapullo) 17 ноября 2018 г.
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.