Marvel: 40% of our readers are female and our sales are just fine, thanks

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Marvel’s David Gabriel, their svp – print, sales & marketing, doesn’t do too many interviews, but a three parter at ICv2 is a news packed doozy from Marvel’s testing a $35 Deadpool book in a mass market retailer to their growing participation in Scholastic Book Fairs. Here’s Part Two and Part Three, and you’ll want to pour over every paragraph, but if you just want the BEat Guide, here you go.

Perhaps the most interesting note (to me anyway) is the fact that Marvel has been able to develop a backlist program at long last! This has been a problem for a while due to no inventory practices insisted on by management, something that Gabriel actually makes a nod to in this quote (bold is mine.)

You said there are fewer graphic novel titles than there used to be.  What are you cutting and what are you emphasizing more?
About four years ago when we cut regular comic title counts, that automatically cut the title counts of the trades. And they really concentrated on much stronger titles and they also sold better.  Who would have thought?  And we’ve also gotten some really strong backlist trades, which we had never had before.  Deadpool is our Batman.  We slowly built that up over about a year and then it exploded well before the movie.  And we’ve just had gigantic hits.  We actually, on a monthly basis, get called by the finance guys to question the gigantic print runs that we’re having, which is great.

Probably when you and I started talking years ago we wouldn’t have known how to respond to them.  But now it’s been a long run for the people at Marvel and years ago no one said that was going to happen.  Everybody wanted to say that we would be gone in a year and there would be a new crowd.

And we have more coming up.  Black Panther is one of them.  We’ve seen the print runs on that, and it’s nothing like we ever expected.  A lot of that is Ta-Nehisi Coates, of course.

It’s been strong for us.  We’ve gotten very good at working with the retailers, the book market, and international sales. It goes back to having the same crew in place for 14 years and knowing the market well.

I like the little nod to watchful, loyal accounting people who won’t allow Marvel to print enough books to sell in mass, but luckily the movies did the heavy lifting on brand recognition here.

In part two, Gabriel mentions that Disney Stores are now carrying some Disney, Marvel and Star Wars books. Finally. And at Scholastic book fairs, they’re carrying Han Solo, Totally Awesome Hulk, All-New All-Different Avengers, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. So if you wonder why those last two books are still being published, wonder no more. Gabriel also gives big play to the Squirel Girl OGN, which could be a significant release for this format.

AND here’s that demographic info you’ve been waiting for–and is that a confirmation of Disney market research, whose invisible hand I’m been suspecting for years?

Again it’s still kind of anecdotal. From things that we gather from some analysis that Disney does on who is buying Marvel as a brand, and from talking to retailers and looking at our titles, we’re probably up to at least 40% female, which eight years ago might have been 10%. And 15 years ago might have been nothing, while they were all buying manga. So there’s really been a shift, which is great, and it even could be even higher than 40%. I’m sure if you go into some retail shops in different parts of the country, that’ll be 50-60% female, and some lower. But that’s about what we’re seeing now. We also get some stats from digital; they’re a little better at knowing who the customer is.


Gabriel also also the question of why “Marvel Now” is coming back — turns out that that name really stuck with partners. Imagine that, you hit the branding jackpot and didn’t even notice!

About six months to a year ago, we started having all of these international licensees for publishing and also for consumer goods coming to us saying ‘we want to get the Marvel NOW! titles.’ I scratched my head a little bit, and the consumer folks asked me, ‘What’s Marvel NOW!?’ It turns out that what we started four years ago with Marvel NOW! really stuck with them all over the world. And we’ve used NOW! in different ways over the past couple of years, and when we were looking for something to hang our marketing hat on for the end of this year, we said we could try to come up with something new or we could use what everybody already knows. And why should we come up with something new and re-brand everything and re-confuse everybody? Or should we use something that’s selling very well worldwide? Everyone said, it doesn’t make sense. So we changed it up a little bit with shattering the logo, which ended up tying in well to what was going on in Civil War II. It was nice when everything going on in editorial really fit well with what we were doing. We didn’t tell them what to do. It all just meshed very well together.


Finally, no Gabriel interview would be complete without some shade throwing at naysayers. It’s true that the excessive back patting can be a little disconcerting, but it’s also true, as Gabriel says, that the comics internet is set on showing how Marvel’s sales are slipping, and they are headed down a dark path dragging the comics business with them–even though Marvel continues to dominate the direct sales market (until Rebirth showed up.)

It’s true that many of these smart business moves that Marvel is making aren’t all necessarily beneficial to the direct market, but it’s also true that Gabriel and Marvel President Dan Buckley are two of the smartest business people in comics, and they would probably prefer to have a strong LCS system selling their books. I’m gong to let the retail and sales chart pundits take this one on.

Comments

  1. Brian says

    That 40% figure blows me away. That can’t be from LCS or even readership, can it? At the very least, I’m sure more women are reading or at least going into stores and buying them. Which can only help. When I worked at a comic store, I was always embarrassed by Vampirella and Lady Death if a woman walked in. I wouldn’t blame them if they never came back. Now maybe if stores start to expect more women coming in, those stores will make it a more friendly atmosphere. The store I worked at was good at that, so hopefully it’s a trend going on elsewhere.

  2. Saber Tooth Tiger Mike says

    “Marvel as a brand, and from talking to retailers and looking at our titles, we’re probably up to at least 40% female, which eight years ago might have been 10%. And 15 years ago might have been nothing, while they were all buying manga. ”

    ” So there’s really been a shift, which is great, and it even could be even higher than 40%. ”
    The shift being that manga turned out to be a fad, not a source of long term growth. I suppose a large number of manga readers outgrew manga, can’t afford to buy it anymore, etc . and have been replaced with a smaller number of new readers.”

    What makes David Gabriel, certain that the current upsurge in female readers is not another fad?

    ICv2 : “Now, obviously, you’re trying to reach a much broader demographic”

    I’m not sure if the majority of the new material is aimed at the general public..
    Let’s start with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Is this a comic aimed at 7-12 year old girls or parents of 7-12 year old girls? Most of the marketing for children’s books goes towards convincing parents that a certain book is suitable for their child. It’s a decently drawn comic but , like many children’s books these days, it seems to be more concerned about making a statement : See? Black girls can be smart, too–then developing a character young female readers can relate to. The subtext of the work seems to be anxiety about growing inequality –and how part of the solution will be to get more women, particularly women of color interested in engineering and technology by creating role models.

    With the exception of Ms Marvel, most of these attempts to attract female readers seem to have been an attempt to attract a certain TYPE of female reader–educated, and concerned with identity politics but not necessarily diverse. The majority of them seem to be white. There’s nothing wrong with this demographic but this is not a broad audience. This is an audience that marketers are currently salivating over but I wouldn’t call this broad audience.

    The whole diversity initiative reminds me of those Loony Tunes hip hop themed shirts from the 1990s, when hip hop was trendy. Warner Brothers has abandoned this demographic in subsequent decades with respect to Looney Tunes. Marvel is using Disney’s reach to prepackage their existing IP to a desirable demographic but it remains to be seen if this the influx of new female readers is something Marvel can sustain.

    ” To me, the paradigm shift started for us when we brought in the female Thor, because that horrified and supposedly alienated the people you’re talking about, but it also certainly rejuvenated that character and that book and made it one of our bestselling books. It was up there, but certainly not one of our bestsellers. Now, three years later, she’s still around and we’re bringing the regular Thor back.”
    This statement doesn’t instill much hope in Marvel’s conviction. What an odd example of a successful comic aimed at female readers when Squirrel Girl of Ms Marvel would have been better examples.
    How can the female Thor be used as evidence of a paradigm shift if the white male version of the character is brought back? Isn’t that admitting that an experiment failed? I

  3. MBunge says

    It seems like this is Marvel finally realizing they can’t just sell the same crap over and over and over. But whereas in the past, Marvel published non-superhero stuff from Master of Kung Fu to Tomb of Dracula to Transformers to Conan, now they’re chasing political diversity instead of genre diversity.

    Mike

  4. PopAristocrat says

    Mike – Not a failure because the Jane Foster Thor will still remain in her own title, which is selling well. However the other Thor will return in a different title, and now his book will sell to his traditional fans while Jane Foster’s will sell her her now established fan-base, and now Marvel will be selling two books where they were previously selling one. That’s the brilliance of it.

  5. M.G. says

    Bull. There sales are way down from last year. D.C.books are better and cheaper!!. Yes more women are buying ,and that’s cool. But 40,% ,I don’t see that in stores. If true it probably because men (like me) are giving up on most Marvel books. Most suck. And I an other guys are sick of their “progressive SJW ” bull shit!!. For the record, I have always loved woman heroe books.But all this Wight evil man shit snucked in shit. I’m not the only one saying and seeing it. So Marvel/Disney can say, ByBy Mark’s money. See ya…

  6. Helen says

    Maybe, M.G., you don’t see women in stores because we have to contend with people like you policing what we’re reading. Maybe we like discovering and reading comics for ourselves, figuring out what we like, in a space that feels safe and inclusive, not exclusionary and disbelieving that “omg the women-folk read comics?” We do, and are, and some of us have been reading for over 20 years. It isn’t “progressive SJW bullshit,” it’s proportional representation. What you think is an overabundance of female-led or POC led titles is actually nowhere near the same amount of white, male led titles. But because, contrary to what you’ve been conditioned to see on shelves and in stores, it’s even a small percentage up, people are seeing it as “taking over.” It’s not. There’s some interesting psychological studies out there, about how when women (as an example) share about 30% page/screen time with their male counterparts, it’s perceived that they are taking over, or are actually sharing a higher %.

    So maybe, just maybe, we’re using our money to buy the books that we love, to show Marvel what’s resonating with more than just the vocal minority of comic book fans that want to keep the status quo because that’s what their used to, but we’re NOT doing it in stores because we don’t want to interact with that exclusionary minority. We’ve created our own spaces, where we can celebrate, love, and discuss comics on our own terms. And we’re buying from places that support that.

    Also, if you want to see the importance of what Moon Girl means to women of color, just check out Black Nerd Girls. They cover comics featuring characters of color extensively, and the impact that it’s having on their communities. Just because we don’t think it’s having an affect, because we’re not necessarily part of that specific community, doesn’t mean that it isn’t. It’s just not visible to us in the spaces we’re used to seeing comics discussed.

  7. E. Brown says

    It seems to me that that is horrible news. The mantra has been that to grow comics you had to broaden the base and bring in woman and minorities. However it seems like that has failed since with almost parity female readers comic buyers are way down. So instead of doubling your numbers by bringing in woman you ended up with less buyers.

  8. Michael E. DeVore says

    Should I laugh now or after I show you why this is ether a Lie, or a Nightmare scenarios?

    So July 2008 Marvel sales of the Top 300 comics according to ICv2
    About 3.49 Million Giving Marvel a number 1 sales slot.

    If 10% are females then the demo breakdown is
    Male: 3.14 M
    Female: 0.35 M or 348,979

    So now in July 2016 Marvel sales of the Top 300 comics according to ICv2 is….
    About 3.2 M or about 90% of 2008 Sales, but wait there’s more….

    If 40% are females then the demo breakdown is
    Male: 1.92 M or 61 percent of 2008 sales
    Female: 1.28 M or 365 percent of 2008 sales

    Ether you believe the 40% and 10% number given in the article, or you believe it to be an outright lie, and you never got this far.

    But if it’s true then Marvel ether A) pandered to women in the way that was claimed resulting in a massive loss in their male audience, or B) they saw massive losses in the male audience and pandered to women to make up for the losses they were already having.

    Now lets see if we can find evidence for A vs B. Lets use Image since to me they seem to be the lease likely one to have pandered to the female audience to increase sales.

    Image July 2008: 534,615
    Image July 2016: 278,390

    Image without Pandering sold about 52% of what they did in July 2008 so maybe, but what about everyone except Marvel and DC. If Images sales are down because of a lack of good comics that would also explain it so lets look at them all but the big two.

    All Except Marvel and DC 2008: 1.44 M
    All Except Marvel and DC 2016: 1.22 M

    So 84% of what they did so close to Marvels 90%

    Ether you believe sales are down 10% over 8 years, and nothing has changed in terms of demographics.

    Or you believe that the Males audience has been cannibalized in favor of women.

    Or you believe that the Male audience left causing Marvel to reach out for more women.

    Pick your reality, but the 40% number isn’t as sweet as Marvel would lead you to believe.

  9. says

    @Michael E. Devore: if you’re going to say silly things, at least try to make them accurate silly things. Those Image numbers are not close. So you think with a higher percentage of a larger market in 2016 Image sold less comics than in a shrunken market they had less than 4% of? That’s…interesting.

  10. Torsten Adair says

    Look… Marvel’s corporate DNA is based on chasing the latest trend…
    It’s why Fantastic Four #1 happened, because of a conversation during a game of golf regarding sales of the Justice League comics.

    So more women and girls reading comics? Since Pokemon in 1998, there’s been a major market for kids and teens. That’s why there was Ultimate Spider-Man then, and why there’s Ms. Marvel now.

    Is it a fad? Unlikely… as many of those fans have been invested for years (see: Spider-Girl; Carol Corps).
    Many of them will go on to work in a related field, just like yours truly.
    Just like manga isn’t a fad.

    (And if it’s a fad, then how do you explain Smile staying on the New York Times bestseller list for… 217 weeks and counting? How do you explain Scholastic and Macmillan and Abrams publishing so many original graphic novels aimed at kids and teens?)

    So, yeah… deal with it. Or ignore it and enjoy what you enjoy.

    As for Disney… Marvel trades are available in Orlando. There’s the Marvel Super Hero Headquarters at Disney Springs, in a very conspicuous location (right next to the Star Wars store, and on the way to the AMC theaters) which, among the merchandise, has a corner featuring comics and trades.

    Then, over in Epcot, the Disney Kingdoms titles were spotted at the Journey into Imagination gift shop. Not to mention a character meeting with Baymax at Innoventions West!

    Oh, and Disney Publishing is rocking it with prose novels based on Iron Man, Black Widow, and Squirrel Girl. (I am now a fan! Disney Animation!!!Turn that SG book into a movie!)

    It helps that the Disney PR department are fans as well… (Hi, Maz!)
    Can’t wait to see what Marvel titles get pushed for Star Wars Reads Day!

    My only criticism… Big Hero 6 makes $222 Million in the US, becomes the first superhero movie to win a major Oscar (for Best Animated Feature), and Disney/Marvel doesn’t have any other kid-friendly (as in Rated PG) superhero movies in the works?

  11. Zach says

    I think any sort of sales discussion is moot without knowing what digital is doing.

  12. Kyle Pinion says

    First superhero movie to win a major Oscar? Somebody forgot poor old Heath Ledger.

  13. Saber Tooth Tiger Mike says

    Helen”. It isn’t “progressive SJW bullshit,” This remains to be seen.
    Some of it is .
    Bitch Planet and the recent Mockingbird series from Marvel are stark examples.
    In both works there is a grievance by the authors towards men. In Mockingbird, the feminist viewpoint is beaten into the reader on nearly every page to the point you have to wonder if the author is being sarcastic.

    Here’s a summary of creator owned work from a recently hired black woman.

    “In the dark future of OUR WORK FILLS THE PEWS, the rise of fundamentalist groups and hardline political leaders has led America to a culture war it was not prepared for… when the dust settled, America had placed its own citizens in internment camps for the first time in 80 years. Camps for subversives, homosexuals, Muslims, Jews, the poor, the mentally ill… but the largest camps with the highest population of prisoners are the breeding camps where the women are held. Marcus, a gay black man, is a bounty hunter–he can stay out of the camps as long as he hunts down and arrests escapees… but he finds his conscience and his purpose when he comes upon 8-year old Sojourner and vows to sneak her across the border or die trying.”

    Great, another topical comic that demonizes all Conservatives. How original. Is this the perspective she’s going to bring into her work-for-hire work? A collection of conspiracy theories?

    ” that addresses who we are today and where we’re going as a society.”
    I sincerely doubt the author has any real understanding of where we are and where are going, like most lay people based on the synopsis , This will most likely be a propaganda comic like Frank Miller’s Holy Terror or a “Chick Tract”, based on stuff I’ve seen on her publisher’s website. . .

    So, some of these diversity initiatives are about monetizing Left-wing identity politics.
    It was revealed a few days ago that DC had planned a Superman comic about Black Lives Matters. From what I saw, it didn’t look like an educating look at race and class in America.
    It looked like superficial preachy after school special.

    “So maybe, just maybe, we’re using our money to buy the books that we love, to show Marvel what’s resonating with more than just the vocal minority of comic book fans that want to keep the status quo ” If anything, minorities and women and are more vocal online than IRL,. It’s still a comic industry where readers are overwhelmingly liberal, white, and upper middle class.

    “in a space that feels safe and inclusive,” I don’t think this is about making content that appeals to women. This is about making comics that appeal to liberal, (mostly)white, and upper middle class women obsessed with “oppression”. Diversity has in most cases referred to this group.

    There’s nothing “inclusive” about this. This is about as inclusive as a 1990s Bad Girl a t&A comic : http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/126/617/c11.jp

  14. says

    “I think any sort of sales discussion is moot without knowing what digital is doing.”

    Gabriel addresses it a little:

    “How about digital–what are you seeing there?
    We’ve seen great growth in trades, which is from day one where I said the growth would be. It doesn’t make sense for single issues. Marvel Unlimited, the subscription service, does phenomenally well. The subscriber base has grown by leaps and bounds. I think we’re entering into the tenth year of that service.

    Has there been any shift between download-to-own and all-you-can-eat service?
    It’s hard to say because we had this switch with Amazon and comiXology in 2014 and then we also went strong with trades out to a lot of different areas because trades were a little slower to get out there. I think in a year or so we’ll know better what the shift is. But the subscription service works very well, I have to say.

    You were there early. Now that format, in music, is now a thing. You were ahead of the market, but preferences seem to be shifting in that direction.
    Yes. And just so people don’t get scared when they read this, we’re still six months behind the on-sale dates of the retailers, which hasn’t hurt at all. Even digital single sales, what we have seen is that they really match what is going on in the Direct Market. So it’s not much different. If you promote a book heavily, the digital sales really spike.”

    It appears to say that he is saying the same thing that every other executive says each and every time the question is put to them: digital single issues sell in extremely similar proportions as single issue comics. From “It doesn’t make sense for single issues” I think we can safely infer than the sales of single-issue digital comics is a very low percentage, one that wouldn’t have a chance of paying for the production of material in the first place.

    From the Ted Adams interview today (http://icv2.com/articles/news/view/35298/icv2-interview-idws-ted-adams-part-1) he puts a 10% decline on sales, which tracks what ICv2 revealed a few weeks ago.

    -B

  15. Saber Tooth Tiger Mike says

    Torsten Adair says “So more women and girls reading comics? Since Pokemon in 1998, there’s been a major market for kids and teens.”

    There’s been a market for kids and teen comics since forever. It’s just that it’s not very profitable for American publishers to cater to them. You don’t see a whole bunch of Pokemon comics floating around.

    .
    “and why there’s Ms. Marvel now.”

    Ms. Marvel does well with the Direct Market’s core fanbase. I’m not sure how many
    kids are reading it, in collected form, outside of the Direct Market.
    It’s not like Marvel markets this stuff to kids.

    “Is it a fad? Unlikely… as many of those fans have been invested for years (see: Spider-Girl; Carol Corps).”
    No, I fail to see. I have no idea who read Spider-Girl. It’s not like Marvel is selling a lot of trades of it outside the Direct Market.
    I made the point that that manga was fad; now it is a niche,rather than a growing market..

    The rest of your post sounds like Astroturf. Scholastic comics…comics created by and for parents.
    The fact these comics are taking off may mean that it is getting harder and harder to get kids to read.

    THAT may be where are going as a society.. . and I’m sure the librarians are doing some of the buying and marketing of scholastic Comics.

    The use of comic book medium in a school context is nothing new.

  16. 8 Simple Steps to Reach the Real Modern Age of SEQUENTIAL says

    You cannot gain ‘new readers’, and keep the current tiny pamphlet filled w/advertisements’ type of over price format.

    1. Stop calling this “comic books”, and rename the ‘graphic novels’ sections to SEQUENTIAL

    2. Magazine, and just wider larger formats allow new readers to appreciate sequential, and also NOTICE sequential -and if the larger mag format needs to be, which it easily can, you can make it super trendy, especially used as like an ‘alternate cover’.

    3. see numbers 1 and 2

    4. STOP using gimmicks like taking the fact that getting cancer is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’, in ‘America’/consumer land, -so making Thor a woman w/cancer is cliche of early 21st century former-USA, and does nothing to enable readers to actualize the face that large companies w/congressmen in their pockets already have patents on genetic sequences that can be used to treat and cure forms of cancer, but it is more profitable to not let anyone use them….

    5. The last point leads me to this: We are now in the 21st Century, and bigotry, selfishness, BRAND IDENTITY, lack of journalism, and traffic/asphalt/strip malls are the norm -no one under 40 goes to town hall meetings, meets their congressman or city council members, or has any interest in nonviolent protesting -we are consumers that pretend to be ‘American’, and the literature should reflect that -otherwise, Marvel please stop saying you reflect the real world, because you most definitely do NOT.

    6. I just say the latest Bourne movie -and just like this movie, STOP w/the predictable banter, plots, plot devices, and all around typical b..s. predictable endings. We get it: the companies that own all these character-based assets make most of their money from futures trading, offshore hedge funds, investments from pension plans/property/retirement plans, out-sourcing, and tax loop holes / lobbyists, so they dont really need ‘consumer money’, as whether we buy into their movies/comics/TVshows or not, they make most of their money from other means, and brand identity consumer merchandise b.s….global conglomerates do not really make ‘profits’ from our ‘comic book’ buys.

    7. As a response to point 6. We as readers should STOP buying comics new -only buy from used book stores, or from dollar bins, back issue bins, and online where the discount is CHEAP -there is no reason we should be spending money on stories that are this predictable, and gimmick filled -THOR as a woman w/cancer is a pathetic slap in the face to all cancer victims. The whole Jane Foster, and Mary Jane Watson as super heroes is a pathetic attempt at cross branding, and is ultimately an over saturation of IP -and a shell game. Stop spending money on Marvel, and DC’s convoluted multiverse crap. People stop buying brand names, and start reading sequential.

    8. see numbers 1 and 2

  17. Aaron Browne says

    Hello, Saber Tooth Tiger Mike:

    When you said to Helen, regarding “OUR WORK FILLS THE PEWS” -who is the author you were referencing? Did you say “that demonizes all Conservatives”, because the female author included “the mentally ill” in your example? Whether someone is ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ it is all about demonizing and alienating anyone that does not fit in one’s comfort zone -whether it is in closet-conservative pretentious passive aggressive ‘liberal’ Seattle/Redmond, WA, or in your face assertive reaction-displacement homophobic racist Tempe/Pheonix, AZ, or open liberal-pride ‘quaint’ niche-y douche over intellectualizing bigot town Ann Arbor, MI, or passive-aggressive dry smug libertarian Denver hick strip mall bigotry, or chubby retarded tatoo’d bearded hipster fitted t-shirt wearing comic book store ‘dude’ who really is too poor to have the life he wishes he tries to emulate yet gets off alienating and judging other’s ‘different’, ANY WAY YOU WANT TO PUT IT: Why is it that you never indicated means at which we can NOT buy this crap new? What are some ways to NOT buy this stuff new -give me some websites that give away comics, that sell them at 75% off, where is the best used book store to get sequential? How many people do you know make sequential? What website shows your sequential, the work you have done that shows us all how to make great ‘conservative’ sequential (please dont show us that rhetoric… -liberal or conservative).

    There obviously is still a huge market that can be tapped, but talking about ‘super hero comic books’ is like talking about porn, as if there is this huge ‘market out there’ for documentaries, drama, sci-fi, and ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ and even yeeessss! female readers too! Yaaay! Yipee!!! dUHHHH, WE ARE ALL MAKING POINTS DUHH, in da internets comments droolll……

  18. Aaron Browne says

    How much did the Comics Code Authority affect women’s interest in reading sequential / ‘comic books’?

    Is the Comics Code Authority really christian/conservative censorship, and made women week, weak, submission, secondary ‘assets’/IP?

    Speculators, get reeeeaaaadyyyyyyyy, ‘aaaaaaaand: Speculate!

  19. november says

    40% couldn’t just be from their female lead titles, We know for example, that male readers will also be buying them, so it would be unrealistic to assume they are reading the female books.
    Surely it must be spread across their portfolio.

    I’m always doubtful of the claim that women only consume media with women lead protagonists and men only consume media with male protagonists.

    I would suspect this figure is a consequence of way marvel prompts its books now, Instead of purely focusing on comic sites with male dominated audience, it appears on site with a large female audience or mixed demographic.

  20. BobH says

    Note that saying 40% of their readers are female is very different from saying that 40% of the comics they sell are bought by women.

    Even if you simplify it to just refer to print periodical comics (ignoring trades, digital, etc), let’s say 40% of the customers are women. But let’s also say that the average female customer gets 2 books a month, while the average male customer gets 10 books a month (skewed by the occasional customer who’s “all in”, getting all 80-100 books Marvel publishes, and much more likely to be male than female). Those numbers are purely hypothetical, of course, but matches observations that the higher volume buyers tend to be male.

    Pulling out the old high school algebra, that would translate to 88% of the comics being bought by men, 12% by women.

  21. Aaron Browne says

    @BobH -and every one:
    Yeah, but at the end of the day, regardless of whether a reader is ‘male’ or ‘female’, these global conglomerates make more money from unrelated greed monstrous financial machinations, that they do not really care if someone reads their ‘comics’ or not -we do not matter, especially if you are an ‘American; (try not to get your job outsourced or automated when you are not sitting in traffic or trying to be a ‘hater’ towards others ‘different’).

    Futures trading, offshore hedge funds, mutual funds, investments in property and congressmen/tax loop holes, taking money from our retirement, and pension plans, and whatever else means to make a buck that has nothing to do with sequential, Out ‘money’ is worthless to the foreign entities that run this fake country -how can we all matter, we cannot cooperate with each other, let alone even if we all could ‘get along’ we would never have a combined level of wealth that ‘matters’. OUR MONEY IS WORTHLESS TO DISNEY AND TIME/WARNER, so they can just keep churning out the same regurgitated crap stories and gimmicks, it is not like they ‘need’ to expand ‘comic books’ to be come sequential in ‘America’.

    *** So, instead of NOT BUYING THIS PREDICTABLE CLICHE CRAP THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO W/REAL WORLD SETTINGS, instead of Marvel actually creating quality NEW INNOVATIVE CUTTING EDGE SEQUENTIAL why are we caring about the readership of some global conglomerate that would rather use ‘getting cancer’ as a means to brand a female Thor???***
    Seriously, who cares!!! Marvel and DC could care less about us. Innovation, cutting edge, insightful stories and art, QUALITY SEQUENTIAL or quality any thing will never exist in this fake country -it is more “cost effective” to keep $hi++ing out this same old out of touch consumer b.s…. Look at the Comics Code Authority -that crap lasted for DECADES, and we all ate it up… it’s pathetic calling outselves ‘American’ when all we do is keep track of regurgitated crap branded each decade or so in slightly different ways, but really is the same old crap. Think about it, Spider-Man’s creator Steve Ditko was replaced by generic mass market consumer driven John Romita whose style was more Golden Ago, and had nothing to do with being ‘new’, it had everything to do with the typical stereo type for what is considered socially acceptable -just like the TV shows for Daredevil,and Flash took away their red hair, since red hair is considered “gross”, and “creepy”… STOP PAYING FOR THIS STUFF AT COVER PRICE, only buy this stuff on the cheap or get it for free or by trading -Marvel sucks, they may make something look ‘modern’ but they will just keep making things look ‘cool’ to gain attention, but at the end of the day that ‘cool’ artist will soon be replaced by some half rate crap… WHO CARES ABOUT THE READERSHIP OF A GLOBAL CONGLOMERATE THAT COULD CARE LESS ABOUT SEQUENTIAL???

  22. Torsten Adair says

    Saber Tooth Mike:
    “The rest of your post sounds like Astroturf. Scholastic comics…comics created by and for parents.”

    Raina Telgemeier posts frequent photos from her events.
    Lots of kids in those photos…
    Lots of young readers voting Smile for state library awards as their favorite book. Not as a graphic novel, but as a BOOK, competing with every other title on the shelves.

    Also, the Scholastic Book Fairs and Book Clubs, which are aimed directly at young consumers, would further disprove your assertion. Scholastic has sold over 1 Million copies of Smile via those markets, not to mention the Marvel titles mentioned in the interview.

    Kids are eager to read. Yes, comics are gateways. But there are a lot of prose series as well which are extremely popular, from Rowling to Riordan to Green to Palacio to… Martin and Tolkein and King and Golding and….
    Librarians didn’t shelve graphic novels in the 70s and 80s because they weren’t easy to acquire, and there weren’t a lot of quality titles. There was also some prejudice and ignorance, but that’s changed as readers become librarians, as librarians realize how popular the titles are, and as publishers solicit lots of great titles.

    Pokemon comics? You might not see them, but they exist, and they sell.
    (Viz made it their Gold title for Free Comic Book Day last year.)
    There are at least eight box sets of the various series. Viz produces a new series for each game release.
    Full list here: https://www.viz.com/read/pokemon/section/13702/more

    “I made the point that that manga was fad; now it is a niche,rather than a growing market..”
    As are superhero comics aimed at middle-aged men.

  23. Nick P says

    Is it just me or does he absolutely not say that 40% of the people buying marvel comics are women.

    He says that DISNEY has told them that 40% of the people buying the marvel BRAND are women. For me this means anything marvel.oviedo, video games, comics, coloring books etc.

  24. Daniel says

    To me market research just means experinced guessing. So unless some surveys are sent out to the buyers when they purchase a book asking their sex the 40% figure is likely made up.

    There are females of all ages at my lcs but no where near 40%.

  25. Chris says

    Why did I read the comments, why did I read the comments, why did I read the comments?

  26. George says

    Contrast that 40 percent figure with what Trina Robbins went through in the ’80s. As she mentions in the interview on this site, she convinced Jim Shooter to let her start a comic aimed at young girls (Misty) only to find that male-dominated comic shops didn’t want to carry it. So Misty quickly died.

  27. says

    (Er, not that BARBIE was especially good — just that a well-known property showed to me at least that there WAS a female audience that could be enticed into stores, regardless of the specifics of the comic; whereas MISTY was an unknown property, and wasn’t especially good to begin with, so it failed — it’s the basic forces of the market at work, not “male-dominated comic stores suck!”)

  28. Ray Jay Jackson says

    “I’m afraid we’re just marketing to the same, shrinking, aging customer base that we always have.”

    – Denny O’Neil, responding to an editorial Archie Goodwin had written in 1996 that was basically the same as this Marvel guy’s interview.

  29. Kard says

    I was wondering if the Beat was aware of this interview. I thought it was fantastic, just an insightful look as to how Marvel operate.

    I’m sure the hardcore middle-aged fans are going to shit all over it. Nothing pleases them, unless comics were back to how they were in the 70s. How dare Marvel reach out to present day audiences and what this new audience likes, right?

  30. George says

    Brian Hibbs: Lousy comics sell in big numbers all the time. Otherwise, people would have stopped buying X-Men books 20 years ago.

  31. $$$ says

    @Chris: as long as you do NOT spend money on new Marvel or DC comics, then who cares.

  32. Brian Lichner says

    >>I’m sure the hardcore middle-aged fans are going to shit all over it. Nothing pleases them, unless comics were back to how they were in the 70s. How dare Marvel reach out to present day audiences and what this new audience likes, right?

    And when their sales fall off a cliff, like they currently are, at least they’re really diverse! Congratulations, you reached out to a broad new audience! Your sales may be down, but being politically correct is more important!

    01/16 Captain Marvel #1 – 52,972
    02/16 Captain Marvel #2 – 28,962 (-45.4%)
    03/16 Captain Marvel #3 – 28,469 ( -1.7%)
    04/16 Captain Marvel #4 – 25,156 (-11.6%)
    05/16 Captain Marvel #5 – 23,812 (- 5.3%)

    We’re up to EIGHT series for good old iconic Carol, the world’s greatest hero! A reboot every year and yet she’s still hovering at what Marvel considers cancellation territory. Go ahead. Tell me how amazing her digital numbers are, even though Marvel refuses to actually release them!

    05/16 A-Force #5 – 29,706 (+ 7.4%)
    06/16 A-Force #6 – 25,342 (-14.7%)

    Female empowerment!

    05/16 Mockingbird #3 – 21,912 (-33.6%)
    06/16 Mockingbird #4 – 15,975 (-27.2%)

    Critically acclaimed!

    05/16 Patsy Walker Hellcat #6 – 11,822 (- 6.9%)
    06/16 Patsy Walker Hellcat #7 – 13,396 (+13.3%)

    Superstar writer!

    05/16 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #7 – 12,879 (+ 5.1%)
    06/16 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #8 – 12,721 (- 1.2%)

    Hooray for diversity!

    We at Marvel may be losing money in the publishing business, but at least we’re sticking it to everybody’s worst enemy: white males!

  33. Fred says

    It’s easy to tout your female readership – 40% – but not if that’s coupled with the fact that it is due to the decline in the male readership NOT growth in female. Nice manipulation of data and message.

  34. Aaron Browne says

    @Fred: If it is so easy to ‘tout’, the why have there been no regular femmes up until now…muthfukah??? The 1990’s are calling, and they want that female readership, at 40% or not! Shi-iiiiit, man, “due to the decline in the male readership…” you tout, yet based on WHAT DATA, MOTHER FUKAH??? Sorry, I am trying to get in the habit of pretending I am NOT an ‘American’, so I would like you to not only back dat up w/factual references (‘factual’ -funny word,duhhh), but also please ‘splain to me how the female readership “due to the decline in the male readership” -so, less males means more or the same female stats???? Make fun of me while you explain it, cuz we are bastards/consumers all of us ‘Americans’… *droollllll… slup!’)

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