Comedian-TV host Bill Maher is not amazing with readers of The Amazing Spider-Man or fans mourning the loss of the superhero’s beloved co-creator Stan Lee.
Just hours after his “Real Time With Bill Maher” talk show on HBO took its winter break, the host found himself in waters hot as Hades with Stan Lee fans for a blog post Saturday morning.
Many found the blog post snobbishly superior and disrespectful to the memory of the former Marvel Comics publisher, writer and editor. Lee died Monday in Los Angeles at 95 and a private funeral was held Friday by family members.
In Saturday’s blog entry, Maher seems to belittle Lee’s contribution to popular culture and suggests that adults who still read comic books are the reason Donald Trump — a primary target of his “Real Time” program — is president of the United States.
“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.,” Maher posted.
Maher, who comes across as likable as Dr. Doom in his post, went on to say that he was a comic book and Hardy Boys reader as a kid but grew out of them, with the understanding that that was the natural progression.
“But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures,” Maher wrote. “But then twenty years or so ago, something happened — adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature.”
Maher, 62, closes by saying, “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.”
Perhaps Maher, at 15 in 1971, missed Lee’s industry-bucking of the Comics Code Authority when he wrote a three-part cautionary tale for the Amazing Spider-Man title on the dangers of drug use.
Or the creation of the first African-American superhero (The Black Panther) in the 1960s as the nation grappled with the Civil Rights struggle.
Or the portrayal of strong female characters like the Fantastic Four’s Sue Storm-Richards, the Avengers’ Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow or Jean Grey from The X-Men book.
You can disagree with Miami Herald syndicated columnist and author Leonard Pitts Jr. as you see fit. But Pitts, who still reads comic books at age 61, is not an example of arrested development.
“Stan created tales filled with humor and pathos more sophisticated than anything that had previously been directed toward kids,” Pitts wrote this week in appreciation of Lee and his personal effect on his own life. “He gave us a monster (the Thing) who wanted to be a man. He gave us outcasts (X-Men) hated by a world they sought to defend. He gave us a Christ figure (Silver Surfer) trapped on a world of human violence. And he gave us Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, the guilt-ridden, perennially broke, always misunderstood teenager who became a patron saint to geek boys everywhere. Stan’s characters had soul.”
By Saturday afternoon, more than 250 presumed fans — or at the least, readers — of Maher’s blog commented. The first of which summed up a fan’s perspective:
“I’m a fan of Bill Maher, and I agree with and applaud much of what he says on a variety of topics. But anyone who has watched his shows over the decades should be familiar with his tendency for making pronouncements on topics that come across more as knee-jerk, prejudicial cavils that he uses in order to shoehorn whatever topical area of discussion in the news into his broader rants about society, rather than informed analysis that sound like he actually researched the matter.”
Social media users weren’t quite so, well, polite.
“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,” comic book artist Greg Capullo tweeted to his 148,000 followers.
Some asked what Maher has contributed to society. “I dont think ur grasping the meaning in comics, but most importantly ur not grasping the comments that u stated,” read one.
“Bill Maher just took a dump on the comic book legend, universally beloved man — Stan Lee who just died, and by extension the whole community of readers and every single person who loved comics growing up,” read one tweet by a Washington man.
Some just used well-aimed memes like a Simpsons character under the headline, “Old man yells at cloud.”
Maher hasn’t responded yet. The standup comic’s last tweet Friday night repeated a joke at Trump’s expense from the “Real Time” broadcast.