In case you didn’t hear, Marvel comics have been having a rough time lately. It all hit the proverbial fan in recent weeks when in an interview with ICv2, David Gabriel, Senior Vice President of Sales, Print & Marketing, was quoted as saying that retailers and readers were “turning up their noses” at Marvel’s more diverse titles. Although Gabriel has since updated and corrected his original statements, reaffirming Marvel’s commitment to new diverse characters, the damage had already been done.

Fans have since taken to the internet to voice their dissatisfaction and provide their own opinions on Marvel’s current downturn. Although this is an incredibly complex marketing research problem that demands an in-depth analysis, I would distill Marvel’s woes with the following simple sentence: if you ask the wrong questions in marketing, you end up with the wrong answers.

We see this time and time again in every industry. Just look at what happened with Coca-Cola in the 80’s when it altered its traditional soda formula and introduced the fabled beverage disaster known as “New Coke.” It backfired so spectacularly that Coca-Cola was forced to revert back to the original formula in less than three months. Like Marvel today, Coca-Cola knew it was losing market shares to its chief competitor i.e. Pepsi but incorrectly deduced that it was the shifting tastes and preferences of consumers towards the sweeter flavor of Pepsi.

Moreover, whether or not a combination of increased diversity and legacy characters has led to declining sales, this illustrates a gross misunderstanding of the difference between causality and correlation. To put it simply, causality designates that a change in one variable results in the change of another, whereas correlation simply indicates that a relationship occurs between two variables. However, a correlation does NOT equal a causation. I can’t stress that enough. For instance, Wal-Mart discovered years ago that the sales of strawberry Pop-Tarts increase by nearly 7 times their normal rates before a hurricane. There’s absolutely no logical proof that hurricanes are somehow compelling shoppers to buy strawberry Pop-Tarts. It’s certainly worth exploring further to determine the answer, but until then we can only deem that a relationship exists between hurricanes and the sales of strawberry Pop-Tarts. Data and numbers are invaluable resources for any company, but if interpreted improperly, you might as well be reading tealeaves.

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darpq1.pngMy biggest takeaway from this ICv2 report though is the incredible disconnect that has formed between the executive side of Marvel and its customers. Like a lot of people, I slogged it out for a number of years in various retail positions. It’s not a glamorous life and you may end up like Colonel Kurtz lamenting “the horror,” but I strongly feel that everyone at some point in their lives should work retail. It’ll not only teach you compassion for others but being on the frontlines and interacting with customers gives you first hand insights you can’t really gain from sitting in a comfortable office. I’m a firm believer in the Socratic Method or at least what I learned from Bill and Ted, “the only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing.” Marvel needs to realize that it doesn’t understand its consumers as well as it used to.

The 4 P’s (Product/Price/Promotion/Placement) are basic framework concepts that you learn in Marketing 101. A weakness in one of the 4 P’s results in complete failure. Marvel definitely requires work in all areas but from my perspective “Promotion” is where Marvel is currently struggling the most. I detailed in a previous piece the flaws in its branding tactics for the Inhumans. A reader comment from that article perfectly captures Marvel’s faulty promoting strategy:

 All of this is only serving to block casual comic readers who are now practically an endangered species. Years ago, the late/great Dwayne McDuffie wrote a brilliant article entitled “The Crisis on Mono-Earth” ( a must read reprinted in the link) describing how the shared comic book universe and excessive continuity has made it impossible to be a casual reader in this day and age. Crossover events and tie-in books only exacerbate the situation. It’s not hard to figure out why Marvel movies and television have a much larger audience since they’re able to condense decades of continuity into stories that are entertaining and accessible to anyone. The Marvel Netflix shows have found the ideal balance not only to feel part of a larger shared universe but to also stand on their own.

That brings me to another critical point. Marvel comics are taking their cues more from the movie and television adaptations than ever before. Regardless whether bringing in aspects from other media is forced upon creators, in the eyes of the readers it seems like movies/television are guiding the direction of the comics. Is it really surprising that Groot will suddenly be stuck as a baby right when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is released in theaters? Selling anything with Baby Groot’s image is the equivalent of printing your own money, so the transparency of that creative choice is not lost on anybody. I’m not arguing against Marvel or other comics publishers from aligning their characters with the depictions in other media, but it has to be seamless and warranted.

Additionally, I think there’s been too much focus placed on the short-term and too much neglect of the big picture. Sure, catering to established loyal readers is important, but there’s also future potential readers to consider. And don’t even get me started on variant covers. Did the 90’s teach us nothing? This may mean taking a hit in profits, but they’ll pay off down the road. In 1982, Johnson & Johnson faced a scandal when seven people died from taking Tylenol that had been laced with cyanide. On its own accord, J&J recalled the tampered Tylenol capsules, replacing them with a safer product and spending over $100 million. Unsurprisingly, its stocks plummeted and many predicted the end for J&J. However, the company’s commitment to the safety of its consumers had endeared it to the public and J&J rose from the crisis an even stronger company. In the case of Marvel, eliminating or at least reducing crossover events and tie-ins may not give certain titles that extra sales boost, yet in the long run it benefits casual readers who will likely stay with a book rather than be compelled to drop it due to a disruption in the regular narrative and thus stabilize sales.
Screenshot 2017-04-11 14.00.27.pngNo doubt that solving any kind of business dilemma is complicated. First and foremost, Marvel has to accurately define its problems by mapping out its goals and building from there. In my own experience studying marketing as a graduate student and consulting for different clients on marketing solutions, here’s how I would break it down:

(1) Management wants to increase market share

(2) Therefore we should study comic book buying preferences and behavior

(3) So that we can explain reader desire for Marvel

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s an old saying that seems to accurately describe Marvel’s current state. The argument can be made that Marvel has once again fallen victim to many of the problems that plagued the company in the 90’s that eventually led to Marvel filing for bankruptcy. This isn’t to write off Marvel completely. On the contrary, failure can actually breed innovation. Not an understatement to say that these days everyone at Marvel has their work cut out for them.

 

37 COMMENTS

  1. Equating forced diversity to ‘new coke’ is a joke and demonstrates exactly how the comic industry will continue to suffer from it.

  2. great analysis, esp with the New Coke analogy.

    Marvel should look at what Image/Boom and others are doing and why all the casual/younger readers are going over there. Authenticity goes a long way.

  3. Study today’s market, not the market from the 80’s, or any other time in history. Today’s NEW customers wouldn’t know a comic shop or even where to find one, they DON’T care about the past or where older people used to buy their comics… GO FIND where they make purchases: is it online only, at fast food restaurants, or whatever…

  4. A few points.

    1. Casual readers are not going to make regular trips out of their way to comic shops.

    2. I don’t know if increased “diversity” has anything to do with Marvel’s sales troubles but if it does, people ought to be able to discuss it without having a jillion internet whiners jump down their throat. Facts are facts, whether they are about climate change or comic book sales.

    3. When you consider that DC’s sales have not suffered as much as Marvel’s, it seems obvious that a big part of Marvel’s problem might be found by examining the differences between the two companies. I would suggest the fact that DC has been telling stories about super-heroes vs. super-villains while Marvel has FOR YEARS been consumed with hero vs. hero tales could be part of the explanation.

    Mike

  5. “GO FIND where they make purchases: is it online only”

    I believe Brian Hibbs had repeatedly mentioned that online accounts for only a small fraction of sales, at least for the Big 2.

    Mike

  6. My understanding is that Marvel’s bankruptcy in the 90’s was a result of poor decisions at the ownership level, not anything to do with variant covers et al.

  7. Also the industry needs to come to terms with the fact that not all readers want to buy superhero comics or go to comic shops (which is associated with Kevin Smith style superhero dude clubhouse). Digital, bookstores and creator owned are where people are going.

  8. This whole thing seems like a giant marketing ploy to me. There is no way that every major marvel character being replaced was meant to be a permanent thing. There is also no way that the execs at marvel would actually believe that a riri williams iron man would be more popular than tony stark for example. If you starve everyone of there favorites for a while then make a huge deal of bringing back all of the originals the money will follow and everyone will be saying that marvel has made a huge comeback. They are willing to have a slow downturn cycle for a huge windfall to follow.

    As for what sends me away from marvel, it is the constant shift in direction inside of the same books. A good example of that for me is all new avengers. (This is coming from a married mid 40s fanboy with 3 kids) The book originally hooked me with a return from the past of the original x-men and their reactions and coming to grips with the reality of the current state of affairs in the midst of all out action. Sadly for me, it has devolved into a book about teenage gay dating with some really goofy adventures mixed in. A very similar thing happened a few years ago with astonishing x-men. While i’m certain there is a market for those sorts of stories, I am not it. I do not mean to sound bigoted with these statements as I have no problem with whatever life choices individuals choose to make or what people choose to read, I just simply cannot relate. I would much prefer the solicitation text to be more representative of the actual context of the books, so I can make a more educated decision on what to pick up and what to drop. I realize that I am a dinosaur that is yearning for a return of silver/bronze age storytelling, but the rebirth stuff from dc seems to have really shifted that direction and from sales figures seems to have struck a chord with more than just me.

  9. Heidi, this is awful. You’re totally letting Marvel off the hook from one of *the* worst statements a major entertainment company has ever made. Gabriel could have pointed to a number of reasons for Marvel’s poor sales and he went straight to blaming the women and brown characters. That was disgusting.

    Anyone with half a brain cell can look at Marvel’s current business plan and figure out where there are problems. It doesn’t excuse what Gabriel said. But in the true tradition of comics, you go for the distraction. New Coke? Did Coca-Cola blame their sales on trying to have products that better reflected the real world?

    Fuck comics. The whole thing deserves to burn to the ground. Every day I see more and Moore why Alan Moore can’t distance himself enough from this industry.

  10. @MBunge When Brian Hibbs talks about online he is talking about digital downloads. Al@ is clearly talking about buying physical books through online retailers. I haven’t bought a comic from a physical store in over a decade I get them all online.

  11. MBunge said:

    “Casual readers are not going to make regular trips out of their way to comic shops.”

    Depends on how you look at it. From my retailer’s perspective, I’m as dedicated as they come. But from Marvel’s perspective, I’ve always been a casual reader, picking up or dropping titles much more capriciously than I do my regular DC or Image titles. I hit the shop every Wednesday if I can — and for a while now the only Marvel title I’ve been buying is the sporadically published Silver Surfer, the only book I have any level of confidence won’t be shanghaied into a momentum-busting crossover.

  12. The fact that you state that Tylenol was “accidentally” laced with cyanide shows me that you have not done your research. This makes me wonder about the rest of the facts listed in your piece. I quick read of that original article you link to, while not giving specifics behind the facts, should lead you to wonder why Johnson & Johnson would be able to regain their market control with tamper resistant packaging. I understand the writer of this piece may not be old enough to remember the incidents surrounding the original case, but the article they cite should lead them to use a different word than “accidentally” Maybe looking at the “causation” for the loss of market share.

    The Beat is one of the few comics news sites who I trust due to their editorial control. I really do expect better than this from this you guys.

    P.S. Citing anonymous posters to prop up your argument doesn’t help you much…

  13. I think your comparison to the problems of the late 90s is spot on. What marvel really needs is a “Quesada” again. A talent from the outside who can see the problems but loves the characters enough to know that there isn’t anything wrong with them. Diversity is not a problem, personally the new characters from the last few years have been wonderful, fresh, and a much needed addition. However killing, tarnishing, replacing the original icons all within a couple years was a bad move. Like they did with Bill & Joe the core concepts need to be refocused before Marvel can branch out into new directions. They need talented creative teams that stay together and build on what works. A perfect example would be what Snyder & Capullo did for Batman at DC. They had a vision, honored the past, but went in a lot of new territory. If Marvel gave marketing a solid product then they wouldn’t rely on gimmicks or blame “trends”.

  14. If Marvel want the casual reader then they need to be promoting the trade paperbacks much harder than they are. They’re easily digestible, you don’t have to go in weekly or monthly to a store to keep track and if they don’t go in store for 6 months then the next installment won’t be sold out like like floppies would.

    I know Marvel said that minis don’t sell well any more unless they are attached to a big event, but maybe they need to go back to publishing a few continuity-lite minis (beyond Deadpool) and targeting them to the more casual reader. They might not sell well in floppies to begin with, but with enough promotion to the right audience they could sell for ages in TPB.

    They’re not all going to be classics, but they don’t have to be. They could be used as good intros to new and casual readers who don’t want to be bogged down in continuity. If it works for Deadpool, why can’t it work for Spider-Man or Iron Man.

  15. There is an article by Charles Paul Hoffman on cbr.com that did a deep examination of the sales of Marvel over the last few months.

    Looking at the numbers, he concluded diversity wasn’t the reason that Marvel was selling poorly. However, he also noticed that like anything Marvel has had both hits and misses when it comes to new diverse characters being introduced. Still with a number of hits, having diverse characters is definitely not the defining reason why Marvel as a whole isn’t selling well.

  16. Chris Hero: I did not write this piece. I haven’t written about the Marvel statement at length but I talked about it on the PW more to Come Podcast:

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/podcasts/index.html?channel=2&podcast=704

    (Warning Autoplay.)

    The short version is it was an incredibly dumb statement, but I don’t think Gabriel was necessarily BLAMING diverse characters for selling badly so much as saying that diversity didn’t AUTOMATICALLY sell.. A small distinction and one that Gabriel didn’t make very well. AT any rate, the message that came out was a disaster.

    >>>Today’s NEW customers wouldn’t know a comic shop or even where to find one,

    Well yes and no. I think comics shops are a pretty well known phenomenon by now after decades of exposure in the media including The SImpsons and Big Bang Theory. These portrayals are fairly negative though, but it’s still awareness.

    I think most of the kids who read physical comics are pretty smart and know that there are places that specialize in selling comics. Whether they live near one or would venture in is another question. Awareness could always be higher of course, but the biggest problem with the direct market is proximity.

    Most people live far from a comics shop unless they are in a major metropolitan area and even then they might have only one good choice.

    When I lived in Maine 30 years ago, it was 90 minutes to the closest comics shop. When I go to maine now it’s still 90 minutes to the closest comics shop, and its the same one — Casablanca Comics – although when I was a kid it had different owners.

    Also, have you looked at the actual numbers lately? Selling 30,000 copies of a $4 product is niche AF. We’re arguing over a gnat in a teacup here.

  17. This is just the same old see-saw trap Marvel–and DC, for that matter–have been stuck in since the 90s crash.

    Casual readers and die-hard fans want opposite things. Casual readers want a quick, fun, disposable bit of stimulation. Like a candy bar or an afternoon matinee. For them, continuity is a turn off. Die-hard fans want to be immersed in a rich, detailed mythos on an ongoing basis. Like a steady diet or a heavily serialized, years-long TV show. For them, continuity is a turn on.

    What the comics industry can’t seem to wrap its head around is that these are two separate markets that require two different sets of products with two different marketing and distribution strategies. Instead, the industry keeps looking for a mythological sweet spot in the middle that perpetually pleases both. What happens in practice, though, is that publishers see-saw back and forth between catering to one at the expense of the other which, over the long term, erodes the comics market as a whole.

    Going light on continuity, hitting the reset button, re-starting issue numbering, etc. attracts casual readers and creates a short-term sales boost. Business is up so retailers, executives, and shareholders are happy. Creators and editors are happy, too, because playing loose with continuity is a heckuva lot easier than learning and tracking potentially decades of accumulated backstory.

    But, casual readers are fickle. They get bored. Sales fall off and dwindle. Sure, most of the die-hard fans, because they’re addicts, form a reliable sales bloc. But, not all of them. When publishers go light on continuity, new stories contradict or rehash old ones and characters don’t behave consistently with how they used to. This alienates a few hardcore fans. Every few years, the publishers take notice and re-orient toward them. A few of those fans come back. But, not all of them. Meanwhile, casual readers are turned off and stay away.

    Rinse. Repeat. With each iteration, the market as a whole dwindles a little more.

    Casual readers are the successors of the now-dead newsstand market. The good news is that they’re easier to please than the die-hard fans and that the periodical magazine (and its digital, online descendant) is an ideal match for their demand–disposable, relatively cheap, and immediately digestible. In other words, an impulse buy. The challenge is getting the product in front of them beyond the Direct Market. This necessarily means multiple product distribution channels, broader advertising, and partnering with other industries. To build and sustain a market of casual readers, publishers must go to them, not expect them to come to the publishers (as in the Direct Market).

    Producing for the die-hard fans, on the other hand, is the opposite of all that. These are customers looking for a world to jump into and, hopefully, revisit on an ongoing basis. The good news is that the Direct Market is already built and operated by and for them. They know what they’re looking for and will come get it. The challenge is they’re initially harder to please than casual readers and keeping them satisfied is more creatively demanding. It requires world-building, maintaining continuity and consistency, keeping story and art quality high, and the capacity to recruit, manage, and retain top talent. If publishers can do that, they can build a lifetime customer base. Once hooked, those fans will proselytize, attracting more like themselves, and create franchise inertia that can, as we can see, last decades. The ideal product for this crowd is the graphic novel/trade collection i.e. books. They want the next installment in the saga–a full-course meal, not a disposable snack.

    Breaking the self-defeating see-saw cycle means publishers need to recognize the differences between these two markets and adjust their business models, product offerings, and marketing strategies accordingly.

  18. Everyone saying things like “casual audiences don’t go into comic books stores” is 1) wrong, and 2) entirely missing the point of Marvel’s current woes — their PERIODICALS are selling VERY VERY badly IN comics shops. THAT is the short-term problem that Marvel has to figure out. From the POV of Marvel’s publishing business, people who DON’T buy periodicals are only slightly relevant — it’s the folks that DO buy them BUT DON’T WANT WHAT MARVEL IS OFFERING that is the problem.

    (Yes, enticing NEW “casual” readers is a GREAT GOAL… but those customers, being “casual”, are by definition not especially periodical buyers, and are much harder to encourage in that direction.)

    -B

  19. I think the problem, as usual, is the dilemma between appealing to new readers and appealing to longtime fans; often the things that appeal to one side of that equation put off the other.

    Not that that’s the *only* problem. But I think it’s the central dilemma the Big Two have been facing for years.

    I think that, historically, Marvel has gone through a cycle of wildly creative work with minimal oversight, followed by success, followed by increased corporate control and interference, followed by decline. I hope we get back to a creative upswing soon.

    And Marvel really is putting out some great books. I love Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl.

  20. Here’s thing that strikes me the most out of all this: Marvel is tone deaf as is DC on the market opportunity. This wont change until they bring in people with some sort of real-world perspective on what they need to do in order to preserve their brands. A big part of this would be to create books that new readers are looking for. By continuing to pander to collectors and hard core fans, they do nothing to ensure any real relevance in the future.

  21. Heidi,

    My deepest apologies. I jumped to the conclusion you wrote the piece. I know you’re a LOT better than this piece, so my ire was partly based on, “Heidi, of all people, wrote this???”

    The article is poorly constructed. It’s not about the diversity challenge as much as it is about the marketing challenge Marvel has.

    I think your read of Gabriel’s statements are pretty generous, Heidi. I think they’re fair, but you’re taking the statements in the most charitable way possible and that speaks well of you. However, I don’t. I think saying something like – “we’ve heard X is why our sales have dipped. We don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what we hear,” is a statement attempting to shift blame onto X, no matter what X is. If Gabriel had used almost anything else for X, I think it would have been fair, but diversity is a tough one.

  22. Also, I think casual audiences go into comic stores all the time. I don’t know how well stores sell to those people, but I think the audience is definitely showing up. I think Brian Hibbs is 100% correct the real problem Marvel has right now is even the dyed in the wool Marvel buyers aren’t buying the Marvel books like they used to.

    Marvel has a real challenge on their hands. Stuff like the X-Men Gold thing is not helping them at all.

  23. chris hero “Marvel’s poor sales and he went straight to blaming the women and brown characters. That was disgusting. ” That’s an outright lie. Marvel blamed it’s long-term fans’ apparent bigotry for their “diverse” comics not selling. Like Gabriel says, it was a “certain type” of reader that was turning his nose up at Marvel’s diverse offerings, and he pretty much implied, like George and , you , do every single day, that Marvel’s aging fanbase are bigots.

    chris hero “Also, I think casual audiences go into comic stores all the time. ”
    This contradicts what everyone has been saying. You can either stick to the facts or make it up as you go along to suit the narrative you are trying to push. If they show up to the comic shops and they don’t buy anything, they may as well not exist.

    Marvel’s new readers are not Wednesday warriors. They pick up comics IN TRADE PAPERBACK collections of comics outside of comic shops, for the most part. They are not financially supporting Marvel’s diversity initiatives enough to make it worthwhile for Marvel…because they don’t buy floppies.

  24. I have never implied Marvel’s aging fan base are bigots. I have honestly never given any thought to the racial feelings of Marvel’s readers. If I’ve written something that reads that way, then I’m sorry.

    As for casual readers going into comic stores – Brian freaking Hibbs just said the same thing in this very thread! He’s *the* expert on comic stores!

    Gabriel did NOT say it was a “certain type” of reader. That’s something you inserted yourself. He said..,you can read it here: https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/37152/marvels-david-gabriel-2016-market-shift

    It’s pretty clear he’s the one who introduced “diversity” into the discussion and he blamed Marvel’s poor sales directly on that.

  25. Ive read a number of threads on this topic and wish to raise a point i havent seen mentioned, the artwork.

    I’ve been purchasing comics since 68 and still buy on Comixology. Recently they had a large sale of Marvel collections of the recent stuff and I looked through the 3 page preview of the lot of them. Except for a very unique looking Daredevil collection, they all looked the same. Jumbled, cartoony, and stuffed with disjointed dialog. I checked artists names and they were different but individual style was missing. I can only fathom that this is due to the digital coloring/inking/lettering process being used.?
    Comics are a visual medium. One were artists have (had?) as much value as the writers. The actual written “gems” in comic history are few and far between. You used to be able to tell who the artist was in one or two pages.

    That day I bought zero marvel collections because I didnt like the way they looked. I did buy the latest three Saga collections though

  26. Without any information, I suspect customers have been complaining about ‘diversity’ (you hear it online all the time, I’m sure they say it at their comic shop too).

    Retailers, hearing that message from their customers frequently have told Marvel this is what customers are telling them. Some retailers might think the same way. If a new series by a traditional character doesn’t sell, they blame the marketing and/or creative team. If a new book by a non-traditional / diverse character doesn’t sell, they blame that it’s a non-traditional / diverse book.

    Gabriel was likely just repeating back to retailers what they were telling him to show that Marvel was listening to them. Marvel probably will go back to ‘meat and potatoes’ comics because that’s what DC did and they’re currently doing better than Marvel is right now. .

  27. “Casual readers and die-hard fans want opposite things. Casual readers want a quick, fun, disposable bit of stimulation.”

    Do Marvel and DC still have casual readers? Most of them went away in the ’80s. Their output has catered slavishly to hardcore fans and collectors ever since.

    As someone posted above, the casual, occasional readers are more likely to read a trade or graphic novel. Which they’ll probably get at a bookstore or library. They’re not likely to go into a comic shop and pay $3 or more for a pamphlet. They’re not interested in being part of fandom or having to keep up with the tangled continuity of superhero universes.

  28. Chris Hero, here is a quote from the link you posted “We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.

    It was the old things coming back in that time period, three books in particular, Spider-Man Renew Your Vows, that had Spider-Man and Mary Jane married, that worked. The Venom book worked and the Thanos book worked. You can take what you want out of who might be enjoying those three books, but it is definitely a specific type of comic book reader, comic book collector that really liked those three series.” Gabriel makes a connection between the success of “old things”, a “specific type of comic book reader” and, the term “comic collector” which most people usually stereotype as a straight white male, and last but not least a rejection of diversity–hence the term “nose-turning”.
    Gabriel said long-term comic book fans, which everyone assumes is overwhelmingly white and male, the ones who are the ones who spend the most money on comics as a group, are NOT buying the “diverse” comics featuring women and minorities anymore.

    Gabriel did not blame “diversity” because he said it was hard to accept.
    “That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”
    He gives the indication that Marvel will not shelve their “popular” “diverse” offerings.
    “Like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes. We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe.”

    Progressives on the internet have been spinning Gabriels’s words to make it look like he was blaming women and minorities for Marvel’s sales when all he implied was that women and minorities are not making them much money even if they appear “excited” about Marvel’s diverse offerings. “Excited” may not refer to copies sold but news stories in NPR, winning awards from librarian associations and opinions among social justice advocates on the internet..

    Alonso’s insistance that Marvel’s focus on diversity
    “does not, Alonso stresses, reflect the influence of Marvel’s overlords at Disney. It’s organic—”it’s in the air,” he says.” is probably not true since Disney has taken a very socially liberal stance on many issues. In fact, the social justice movement owes a lot to large multinational corporations and billionaires deciding it is in their best interest to promote LGBT right, feminism, etc…and that has trickled into the comic offerings. The diversity comics from Marvel and DC have had a VERY political edge–and unfortunately that political edge was not something unifying. It had the effect of alienating anyone who was not into left-wing identity politics.

    The political angle–“the my feminist agenda”, “white people are all racist”, “Anyone who is not a Progressive is a Nazi” (Nick Spencer) is what caused Marvel to start losing sales, not diversity. What did anyone expect to happen when several comics starting eschewing everything that made superhero comics enjoyable and doubled down on partisan ideology and expect to maintain or grow readership.

  29. What did anyone expect to happen when several comics starting eschewing everything that made superhero comics enjoyable and doubled down on partisan ideology? I hope that they didn’t expect Marvel to maintain or grow readership.

    Everything took a back seat for identity politics–the art, the writing, the lettering, EVERYTHING.
    Marvel stopped looking for talent and started looking for someone with something divisive about race and gender to say.

  30. Comics went through a very political and left-leaning period in the 1970s. They survived that, and they’ll survive this, too.

  31. “Comics went through a very political and left-leaning period in the 1970s. They survived that, and they’ll survive this, too.”

    I’m afraid that the left wing politics present in the 1970s mainstream comics were not presented antagonistically and left out the real divisive stuff–the expansion of Social Welfare, affirmative action, feminism and focused on things which had a broad consensus–civil rights, environmentalism, etc.

    This isn’t the 1970s. The world is a completely different place–and the new talent entering comics cannot sell comics by their craft alone hence the need for gimmicks such as lackluster variants and appealing and appeals to identity politics.

  32. ” By continuing to pander to collectors and hard core fans, they do nothing to ensure any real relevance in the future.”
    Marvel’s pandering to people with deep pocket reflects deep economic changes that have made printing less profitable and income inequality.

    Comics are not relevant because they are too expensive and because no outlet wants to carry a comic book when they can make more money off a Snickers candy bar. Comics aren’t profitable for retail outlets outside the direct market, with the few exceptions of a tiny number of graphic novels. Video games have destroyed the market for young men which is why Marvel “diversity ” strategy revolves solely around females whether they are in middle school, college-aged feminists, or librarians.

  33. “This isn’t the 1970s.”

    Right. Judging from your comments, “7s^gо”’8P0 бо7دة says,” this is the Apocalypse or the last days before Armageddon, thanks to women who want to read comics. Sigh.

  34. Who’s stopping women from reading comics? What I object is when people try to bring a political angle to women reading comics and try to demand an affirmative action system be put in place–which really turns out to be that nearly EVERYTHING needs to appeal to women to make up for decades of negligence.

    P.S. Your judgement is terrible. But then you’re in good company with the unprofessional internet journalists ,try to make everything in comics an issue of social revenge, aka social recrimination.

    Just to show you there’s no hard feelings…here’s something that should put a smile on the faces of “Progressives” reading this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVE0JekVvt0
    This is “social justice” in action. Isn’t it the most humane and civilized thing you’ve ether seen?

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