In the wake of Stan Lee’s recent passing, Real Time host Bill Maher took the opportunity to stir up some drama with an incendiary blog piece. This controversial article published on Saturday saw the comedian and political commentator use the writer’s death as the starting point for a blanket criticism of comic book culture in general, arguing that comics represent an unimportant and juvenile art form that doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
Naturally, the fan backlash came in hard and fast, and given Maher’s track record as a provocateur, it comes as little surprise that the television personality seems unapologetic about his statements. But while Maher looks to have already moved on from the controversy, many fans aren’t letting him forget his irreverent remarks.
Maher’s first public comments since his piece was published took the form of a tweet that saw the commentator revert to a more typical target for his criticism, Donald Trump:
Great to see the president here in Cali. I'm kidding, it made me spit up. Glad the fire is 55% contained. Unfortunately, he's only 10% contained.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) November 18, 2018
But while it seems that Maher has finished beefing with comic book culture, the replies to his tweet make it clear that the culture isn’t done beefing with him:
It's amazing that you're aware of Trump's lack of critical thinking, yet can dismiss Stan Lee's legacy without irony.
— Iantos (@IantosWolf) November 18, 2018
Big fan but the Stan Lee thing wasn’t cool ?
— blackrushhour (@Terry_MrGame) November 18, 2018
Did he show up with a comic book?
— J Nabb (@JayNabbOfficial) November 18, 2018
— Solenya (@GlochMichael) November 18, 2018
Know who else was in "Cali?"
Stan Lee. pic.twitter.com/P9b88t3035
— スライムセンセイ (@Yamstarch) November 18, 2018
— Gutshot76 (@Gutshot76) November 18, 2018
Bill, rethink your Stan Lee position. It’s wrong on many levels.
— Joe Slepski (@TheJoeSlepski) November 18, 2018
— J (@Not_My_Problem_) November 18, 2018
Honestly, while it’s understandable that fans would still be frustrated at Maher for his comments, it’s hard to see what’s to be gained from this continuing backlash, especially when these tweets are likely giving Maher the exact kind of attention he wanted. As comic book writer Neil Gaiman explained on Twitter the other day:
“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.”
Indeed, as the tributes to the late Stan Lee continue to flood social media, it’s clear that most fans would rather remember the life and work of the man in their own way than let the conversation be hijacked by a single button-pushing post.