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So yeah, watching comics twitter react to Marvel’s marketing thoughts over the last few days was like being on a hill and watching a tsunami arrive, and then the water broke in new waves and pools and oh my god. I’ll have more to say about all of this after I write about MoCCA, but for now really the only thing you must read is G. Willow Wilson’s So About That Whole Thing. (Wilson is the writer of Ms Marvel, in case you don’t know.) She covers it all. In the end she points out that the biggest aspect of sales right now is the rise of YA comics which is 1100% true. I’ll just quote this:

2. Diversity as a form of performative guilt doesn’t work. Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*

I agree (along with many) that “diversity” has become a code word for a lot of things that it wasn’t meant to be. Like many well meaning words, it is now both a crutch and a red flag. I was going to call this post “diversity-gate” but realized I don’t want to have a hand in releasing that into the world as a headline.

We all need to stop waving red flags. Or white flags. Just try to live in the world and realize that the moving parts may be beneath the surface and hopelessly interconnected.

More later.

 

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a conundrum – every word we use to describe something real winds up being co-opted as either code words or dog whistles or otherwise loses its meaning entirely. I’m all for reclaiming terms rather than having to constantly think up new ones.

  2. “Diversity as a form of performative guilt doesn’t work. Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*”

    That’s an interesting thought, and a way of looking at things I can frankly find myself adopting from now on. Authenticity and realism do sound less… “manufactured” than the word diversity has become in recent years. And I like the idea of striving for authenticity, as it assumes the creator is writing from personal experience.

  3. I just think it’s hilarious Marvel said all this idiotic stuff and thought it wouldn’t get out. Abbey’s post on it was pretty much perfect, too. Marvel publishes 8 million books and wants to blame their total lack of direction on anything but themselves.

  4. “I just think it’s hilarious Marvel said all this idiotic stuff and thought it wouldn’t get out.” The folks at this summit meeting thought they were off the record. They stated multiple times to the reporter, this was off the record. The article tooks snippets of conversations and showed it out of context. My husband who was at the event was incorrectly quoted this way and made to sound like some old straight dude who was upset he didn’t have man Thor anymore. Now we have some really excellent hard working people at Marvel who love comics having to scramble to put out a fire they didn’t start.

  5. Chris,

    I read the ICv2 articles and nothing retailers said sounded bad.

    As far as Marvel not starting a fire or whatever, why invite a reporter into the room if everything is off the record?

    Marvel likes to be in control of everything in the comics media. Marvel is now angry somebody actually reported what was actually said without a Marvel PR person editing it.

    Out of context? Everything in the articles is in context! The questions and the answers are quoted as well as bits of discussion about the answers. I think comic book people don’t know what context actually is.

  6. If Marvel was truly committed to diversity, then War Machine would have his own series and not have been killed off as event fodder. He is probably Marvel’s most high profile black male character. And yet they gave up on him. Sad…

  7. “It’s a conundrum – every word we use to describe something real winds up being co-opted as either code words or dog whistles or otherwise loses its meaning entirely.”

    Yes, like the word “liberal” — which really just means being open-minded and listening to both sides of an issue — was demonized by the Right in the ’80s. It was replaced by “progressive,” which is now being demonized.

    Or like the term “fake news,” which started out meaning news that was fake (i.e., Hillary running a child prostitution ring out of a restaurant). Now it’s used to mean any info the Trump team doesn’t want to hear (and doesn’t want the public to hear).

    “Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*”

    No prob there. It certainly reflects the world I live in.

  8. One of the things in Wilson’s piece that jumped out at me was this;

    “4. The direct market and the book market have diverged. Never the twain shall meet. We need to accept this and move on, and market accordingly.”

    I think this is the heart of the sales issue right here. Floppies aren’t selling to the same market as trades and OGNs, and the local comic shop (LCS) isn’t where the books are selling. Today more than ever floppies are niche market, and books are mass market, which demands different marketing strategies and likely different products for each market.

    Look, I love my LCS, and I’m a loyal customer with a good-sized pull list, but I rarely buy trades from them, because I save a lot more money by buying from Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or even pre-ordering from Midtown or In Stock Trades. In other words, I go to one market for my floppies, and another for my books. Publishers and retailers need to swallow this truth at long last, and profit from the realities it presents.

  9. Marvel accidentally publishes a comic that makes money and then proceeds to publish a whole shit load of other comics that they think sound like it until the whole thing collapses. Then they blame the audience. Been doing this since Marvel Mystery #1.

  10. By the way, I only buy two Marvel titles at the moment: Ms. Marvel and Black Panther. I am not the target audience for either one. I’m actually the target audience for Fantastic Four. But they don’t publish that anymore.

  11. “Publishers and retailers need to swallow this truth at long last, and profit from the realities it presents.”

    Readers should also be prepared that such “realities” may result in a marketplace they don’t really like all that much.

  12. David Gabriel’s most controversial comments were made in a direct interview that was totally on the record.

    From my understanding, retailers were NDA’d n the whole event, and Griepp was asked not to report on any of the shocking surprise plots twists and story details that are coming.

    I’m guessing Marvel will not allow reporting on future retailer summits.

  13. So why does everyone lay this burden on DC and Marvel (to change…everything)? They both have dedicated formulas and fairly dedicated fans. It would be lovely to think that one day both houses would wake up and publish stories about characters who happen to be of color or gender without any sort of hype forcing them to do so.

    In the mean time there are many small publishers creating great stories that run the gamut of themes. If you want these stores, just move to a different section of the store, or find a shop that does carry them.

  14. last line is meant to say “If you want these stories, just move to a different section of the store., or find a shop that does carry them.”

  15. argh,

    I don’t think anyone is lying the burden to change everything on DC and/or Marvel. Marvel’s the ones who basically said the diversification of the line is responsible for their recent sales woes. The truth of the matter is diversification isn’t hurting anything, but Marvel is following a time-honored tradition of pointing to minorities to shift blame from themselves.

  16. I love diversity in comics. I’m expecting my first child – a girl – and I’m so glad there are heroes like Kamala out there. However, when Marvel replaced all their heroes with women and/or minorities, it didn’t ring authentic to me. It was more of a gimmick. That’s the real issue with Marvel. Be diverse as a natural part of the story, as you’d make the MU as diverse as the real world.

  17. Any mention of diversity prompts rants from alt-right types about “Social Justice Warriors” and “political correctness being rammed down our throats.” So maybe the word should be retired.

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