We wanted to write something positive this week. Really we did. But then you start telling people that you want your business to point out when things are garbage and something happens to counter your brand.

So now there’s this.

By Brandon Schatz & Danica LeBlanc

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Let’s talk about the deliberate use of words, and statement of intent. Do you remember the summit Marvel held with retailers where their main PR guy David Gabriel stated that the company would be abandoning their diversity initiatives? Of course you do. It was everywhere. Except… it wasn’t.

As Brian Hibbs rightfully pointed out in his own comics retail column, David Gabriel was very careful to say nothing of the sort. Take a look at his response to being questioned why books starring new and diverse characters were seemingly not finding an audience (emphasis ours):

“I don’t know if that’s a question for me.  I think that’s a better question for retailers who are seeing all publishers.  What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity.  They didn’t want female characters out there.  That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.  I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.

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.”

Is there a single spot where Gabriel says Marvel is not committed to a diverse line up of characters? No. He’s very careful to say this is not what Marvel believes, but it’s what they hear. It’s the retailers who are the problem. It’s the readers who are the problem. It has nothing to do with the ways the books were developed or marketed. No, no.

Last week, we employed a bit of Gabriel’s tactics to describe what we saw as being wrong with the way Marvel markets their books. In short: they are constantly looking backwards and using old, broken structures to promote new ideas to new readers. We suggested that if they continue down this path the company might find themselves in a tougher spot than they’re in already. We concluded with a very specific thought about Marvel: “They’re acting like a true disgrace to the medium.” Not an actual disgrace, just acting like one.

In both instances, intent is clear. David Gabriel wants to address the fact that their recent line of diverse comics has had trouble selling and we wanted Marvel to know that they are being very harmful to the industry. We also both chose our words very carefully so as not to accept the blame for the ideas we clearly wanted to get across.

This is the important of words, and intent. This is what we’ll be focusing on this week.

Neat.

What you’re seeing up above is a small piece of our invoice from Diamond this week. Do you see the item line for the collected edition of the recent Hulk series starring Jennifer Walters? Up until a week ago – long after final orders were due and less than a week before comic stores would receive the product – Marvel had been telling retailers that it would be called Hulk. 

Narrator: “It wasn’t.”

A couple more notes: not only were retailers not made aware of this change in advance, but Diamond found out when the product arrived in their warehouses (according to a company representative). They proceeded to keep this change quiet until Marvel released the corrected details just a few days before retailers opened their shipment boxes.

Now in the grand scheme of things, the retitling of a book shouldn’t be a huge deal, right? Well, let’s skip back to the idea that words and intent are important and break this situation down.

When this title was first announced in late 2016, Axel Alonso provided a quote about why they were calling Jen’s new book Hulk and not She-Hulk:

“The title She-Hulk evokes light-hearted stories about a Jennifer Walters who is at peace with herself and in full control of her powers. This isn’t that book. On the other hand, the title Hulk implies all of the baggage that comes with that comic’s 50+ year history—the ongoing battle with the monster within—and that’s why it’s more appropriate for this series. Jen went through major trauma in Civil War II, and Mariko and Nico’s story will deal with the fallout of that trauma—the anxiety and anger, sometimes self-destructive, that comes along with it. If there is light at the end of the tunnel, Jen is going to have to search hard for it, and she’s going to have to battle with some pretty big monsters—including the one within—to find herself again.”

It was a quote that we didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with. Did Marvel have a problem associating the idea of anger with femininity? Or was it a deeper issue of branding? Granted, there’s a lot to break down in Jen being called She-Hulk in the first place – but in a world where there is a She-Hulk, why couldn’t she own her anger? Exploring these questions by themselves could be an article unto itself, so let’s take Alonso at face value, and place value into his words at that moment in time. Now that Marvel has changed the title to She-Hulk, what does that mean? And what does it say that the company didn’t see fit to let their distributor or customers know about the change earlier?

Words are important. Intent is important. If you ascribe importance and weight to the branding of Hulk, it means something when that’s taken away. One of the biggest problems with Marvel’s whole Legacy problem comes from the fact that they don’t seem to believe their words or intent are important. They think that if they just market their words and intent in a deliberate way, people will align themselves in such a way where things will turn around. And that might be true for something, but not for Legacy. Here’s why.

October comes, and the book is suddenly called She-Hulk. It will have also jumped from issue #10 (or whatever the issue will be) to issue #159. The first thing that needs to happen? A retailer has to realize that this is not a different book – that they should continue to use their sales data from Hulk on She-Hulk going forward. Some won’t do this because a good chunk of retailers are not on top of these things. So there will be a disconnect at a retailer level right from the start. But for the sake of argument, let’s put out a best case scenario in which all retailers everywhere are on top of this information and got their various systems to connect this sales data for all of their books across the line. This will have taken a significant chunk of time which, many folks forget, is a resource with a cost. So again, starting at a negative. Now, come the customers.

A person walks in, and a copy of She-Hulk #159 is on the shelf. Just as many retailers aren’t on top of this kind of information, readers are far more disconnected. Chances are a majority of them will walk up to the counter (if they realize this is a continuation – some will not) and ask a variation of a simple question: “why?”

It’s the why that’s the crux of this whole thing. As a retailer, how do you explain this why? What is Marvel’s intent behind this? What are they saying? And how does that translate to information you can give to a customer?

The short answer is “marketing”, and that’s not something a customer is going to internalize in a meaningful way. So what’s the long answer? We don’t know if that’s a question for us. We think that’s a better question for Marvel and David Gabriel who are seeing what their publishing line looks like. So far, they haven’t answered it. Not in a way that will mean something to customers, or stick with them in a meaningful way. So we’re left with telling customers that these changes are cosmetic and hoping for the best, because there isn’t anything more.

Everyone should be upset about this kind of marketing – and no, Marvel isn’t the only company currently partaking, they’re just the company that’s currently drowning. Pre-Rebirth, that was DC, and the way that these things tend to be cyclical, it will one day be them again. Regardless, this kind of marketing is a whole lot of nothing – band-aids for bullet wounds. Even folks who complain about how Marvel needs to stop being so “PC” and just tell “good stories” should be upset about this – because what is this all about? Is it about stories? Or numbers and titles? Seriously, if you’re on the “Marvel’s too PC” bandwagon and you think the Legacy initiative has something you’ve been missing, you might have to confront the fact that you weren’t actually crusading for “better stories”. Legacy doesn’t offer story – just marketing.

What Legacy is missing – hell, what Marvel is missing, is connection. Both are structures of pure marketing, from the new coats of paint, to the renumbering, to the lenticular covers they just announced. It’s all flash and slight of hand. What do these things actually accomplish. What do they say? And more importantly, does any of it have meaning? Because at least when they were first launching this Hulk series, there were words and the possibility of connection. There was a story where a women experiences deep trauma and has to walk through a world dealing with anger. She’s afraid to express it. She’s afraid to unleash because of what people will think of her and what she will think of herself. Tying in the title and just calling the book Hulk? At the very least, true intent aside, it was a thing that held meaning. For the company, the name invoked ideas of rage and anger that the history of She-Hulk did not. There was meaning there – potential for connection, born from story. Within Legacy? There’s none of that. At least not yet. And until that happens, until Marvel can craft something that can form connection, they will remain adrift.

Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc are the co-owners of Variant Edition Comics + Culture in Edmonton, Alberta, and in their spare time, they will up Submetropolitan with words and podcasts. 

49 COMMENTS

  1. Nicely said , Brandon. You pointe dit right. Marvel has a HUGE problem with the way they named their titles, and that’s the results of years of mixing and diluting everything.

    Uncanny? It doesn’t mean anything anymore. We had Uncanny X-Men, Uncanny Inhumans, Uncanny Avengers and probably more I’m forgetting.
    Avengers? We had every cast ever possible, every possible character has been an Avenger and they have been a brand for every crappy short-lived team ever. And please, no argument like “that’s what happens when a brand is 50 years old.” Because for the first 25 years, we had only 2 Avengers team and less than 4 before 2007. Noxw, it ha sbeen what, 12, 15?

    You can see Marvel is in trouble when they have to revert back to an appelation as meaningles as Gold team and Blue Team -which means nothing from the start- to try to give an identity to a brand who used to have adjectives which would spark the imagination. Extreme, Amazing, Uncanny? Evertything has been so, in the end, nothing is. A bland blank world where words are meaningless because too often used whithout purpose.
    That’s where they are, I totally agree on that. Good luck.

  2. I’m tired of people giving David Gabriel and Marvel a free pass on blaming diversity characters. Gabriel knew exactly what he was saying. He just couched it in a lot of “I dunno..,just asking the question here” kinds of statements.

    What if he said something like, “Are black proper genetically inferior to white people? I dunno…gotta ask retailers about that…” Would that also get a free pass from everyone?

    Seriously…fuck Marvel and DC. I wish both would finally just crash and go away forever.

  3. I strongly disagree that Marvel only wanted to get across the intent diversity lead books weren’t selling. I fully believe the intent was to blame diverse characters for being diverse. Blaming minorities is the age old trick. It got our recent President elected and is always a crowd pleaser.

    Beyond that, Marvel seems to be run by idiots who float the publishing business on the backs of interest free loans from retailers and can’t sell a new idea to save their lives. This industry sucks.

  4. “Beyond that, Marvel seems to be run by idiots who float the publishing business on the backs of interest free loans from retailers and can’t sell a new idea to save their lives. This industry sucks.”

    Agree that the retailers and the fanboys (with their narrow, lowbrow tastes) bear some blame along with the publishers.

  5. Great article. Bendis may defend the sales, saying the critics never have the full picture, but they never provide the full picture in opposition.

    I’ll happily bore people by saying Marvel is more interested in brand maintenance than creating comics. If it treated the comics arm as more than a justification for making comic book movies, it could be a great publisher. But that’s not the Disney way.

    Rogue One, praised as it was, was only allowed to be “darker” because it couldn’t change anything. It wasn’t even that dark, in truth. And the same will be true of Marvel. Big events that ultimately lead to a reset of the status quo.

    The continuity and shared universe is an albatross around the creatives’ necks. Time to break it up and allow the world to create loads of separate universes, as DC once did with Elseworlds.

  6. The deliberate wording does not excuse what was said. Always ask, “what is the primary intent behind the words”? In our case, it was to point out some deficiencies in Marvel. With Gabriel’s words? It was to point elsewhere… but then also, why MENTION diversity if that isn’t part of what he wanted to say?

  7. 1. If comics featuring diverse characters aren’t selling in the Direct Market, you should be able to say so without having ANYONE jump down your throat. Reality is realty.

    2. There’s a line in there that gets at the heart of one of the problems with modern comic storytelling and the cruddy sales on books. “…Mariko and Nico’s story will deal with the fallout of that trauma…” A publisher shouldn’t be coming out with a book based on ONE story idea by ONE creative team. They should be looking for characters and concepts that have the potential to tell MANY stories by MANY different creators. But that, of course, would mean trying to create new things and not recycling old intellectual property.

  8. I’m actually going with Brandon’s interpretation here. Gabriel’s comments were to retailers at the meeting and were meant as a dog whistle for other retailers. Of course, it was a monumental disaster, because that’s also not the kind of thing you say out loud.

    I’m not defending the statement. Only saying that understanding what it was meant to say is telling. And the sad fact is that a lot of retailers did reject the notion of the Diverse-iverse. I had it expressed to me personally by retailers.

  9. Re Marvel Legacy: I don’t really see much of a re-branding or anything that should make readers think they be getting stories that are any different than what Marvel is delivering now. They are just going back to legacy numbering for many titles, aping some classic covers, continuing to ignore the Fantastic Four, and calling all of this Legacy. How do most of the stories that have been solicited so far have to do with legacy?

  10. >> “I had it expressed to me personally by retailers.”

    I certainly hope you denounced them as the hateful bigots that they obviously are. I look forward to your publishing their contact information so others can denounce them as well.

  11. “And the sad fact is that a lot of retailers did reject the notion of the Diverse-iverse. I had it expressed to me personally by retailers.”

    This doesn’t surprise me. Most retailers are old white guys who’ve spent decades selling corporate comics to other old white guys.

    As kids they were embarrassed to see Millie the Model and romance comics on the newsstands, and are horrified by the idea of those days coming back. Girls reading comics! Horrors!

  12. Wow Doug. Gonna have to ask you a couple of questions. Where do you get the “her short stature affecting her love life” thing. Is it the part where Danica’s tweets say she’s made to feel small? That’s a metaphor, bud. A metaphor about how folks make her FEEL small. Partly with condescending, dismissive garbage like that comment. Your OWN inadequacies are showing there, bud.

    This also ignores that Danica co-wrote the article. So many folks miss that part. It’s right there with all the other words, I just happen to have the login.

    Finally, this run of Hulk/She-Hulk has already surpassed a lot of recent similar launches in quantity and sales. You want a Sensational She-Hulk omnibus? I have some news for you. If you properly did some research, you’ll know that Marvel attempted a series of collections for that run, and they ended up remaindering them in a sale without completing the run. That’s what the old school audience offers. Platitudes, not sales. Enjoy irrelevancy as it envelops you.

  13. “Enjoy irrelevancy as it envelops you.”

    Hulk #6 sold a whopping 20,482 copies in May to come in at #123 in the top 300 sales chart. That’s what the new school audience offers. A lot of noise about books virtually no one actually reads.

    Mike

  14. *eyeroll*

    “Yeah, I’ll take these for me, and my kid wants those. Cool covers. These others just sound neat. See you next week!”

    Maybe go outside for some clean air and sunshine. I think you’ve fallen down a real deep rabbit hole.

  15. “Because at least when they were first launching this Hulk series, there were words and the possibility of connection. There was a story where a women experiences deep trauma and has to walk through a world dealing with anger. She’s afraid to express it. She’s afraid to unleash because of what people will think of her and what she will think of herself. Tying in the title and just calling the book Hulk? At the very least, true intent aside, it was a thing that held meaning.”

    Now that he’s leaving Spider-Man (allegedly), I really hope we get Dan Slott back on Sensational She-Hulk. Not really sure there was ever a market for a title exploring Jen as a trauma victim.

    Most She-Hulk fans just want fun, meta-humor Jen.

    Also, to Xavier Lancel, I personally LOVE that the Gold and Blue X-Men teams are back, a nice homage to the Jim Lee/Chris Claremont era of X-Men, one of my all time favorite titles.

  16. I can’t remember the exact quote, I’m sure Heidi remembers it, but in the summer of 1996, in one of those corporate soap box columns DC used to have, the late Archie Goodwin wrote an op-ed in which he boasted that DC was expanding into new markets and bringing in new fans. A week later, in an interview, Denny O’Neill rebuked Archie with the following paraphrased quote:

    “I’m afraid there are no new fans, we’re simply marketing to the same shrinking customer base.”

    Brandon and others on here fail to recognize that there are no new fans. The comics industry is like World Wrestling Entertainment.

    The WWE’s TV ratings are at an all time low, and all that are left, according to market studies conducted by the WWE itself, are aging hardcore fans who either started watching during the Hulk Hogan era of the 1980s or the Stone Cold Steve Austin/The Rock fans of the 1990s.

    Titles like “Batgirl” and “Ms. Marvel” may get lots of mainstream press and seemingly do well on the digital side with Hipster Millennials, but the reality is that the vast majority of people who go into brick-and-mortar comic book shops are fans in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. And nothing is going to change that reality.

  17. Haha yeah, John Byrne sucks!

    Other takeaways:
    – I really wish this column had featured tweets from Danica about her height affecting her love life in a column co-written by her husband. That would have been gold.

    – it is kind of hard to tell it was a co-written column as Brandon’s name is in all the usual author spots. Most of us have trained our eyes trained to skip italics at the end of articles.

    – Not sure irrelevancey enveloping us oldies is the best strategy for selling comics. I ain’t Byrne loving old, Slott was my She-Hulk run (till Civil War ended the golden years of Marvel), and I spend too much of my disposable income on comics and trades each week, no small part of that on collections of books I missed when I was young and couldn’t afford at the time. DC and my LCS is milking me with the Nightwing, Robin, Legionaires, Waid Flash, Rucka WW collections.
    Their whole line direction seems aimed right at people my age at the moment (to varying success).

    – I stopped buying Marvel comics due to $3.99 baseline price and Marvel Unlimited. I really think Marvel Unlimited could be a key part in their sales drop, more than diversity. No more singles or trades for me.

  18. For myself the idea of Jen going through this now is too late. It’s something she should have had to deal with after cw1, after Tony Stark tricked her into bed and maybe after WWH. During that whole section of her characters life she was shown to be a dumb lawyer (she didn’t know that the SHRA allowed for indefinite inprisonment or that SHIELD could draft her any time it wanted), the deep betrayal of a friend, the idea that a group of men she respected could form the Illuminati and become in effect a super villain group; all of that should have pushed her into this place but all marvel let her do was become a bounty hunter for a few issues. Now after cw2 (where again the legal problems of Carol throwing people into prison were pretty much ignored, problems that Jen should have been front and center on, now they say she’s in bad shape?

    At any rate based on the general quality and tone of the stories in marvel and the absolute contempt for the fans that I see in people like Slott, Wacker, Bendis and others I’ve become determined never again to buy a marvel comic at full cover price. A few weeks ago New England Comics was having a back issue sale to clear out inventory and in the dollar boxes were complete runs of the last three marvel events. Gamble 4.99 on what might be a good story? Sorry, can’t afford that. Gamble 1.00 on what might be a good story? That I can try. They can go through all the gimmicks they want, they can change numbering, titles but the truth of the matter is I don’t care because I’m waiting a year or two or three before I even think of buying the stories.

  19. In all the complaints about the “40 year old fan”…they (in most cases) didn’t become a fan of comics in their 40s. I started reading comics before I was 10, quit in my 20s, and returned in my 30s. I go to the same store that I started going to as a teenager in 1988. The customer base is varied age-wise including a lot of kids who come in with their parents. The store survived the comic crash of the 90s and is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year*. A lot of that is due to the owner loving comics but also not limiting his customer base. The idea is to sell to Marvel and DC fans while getting people to read Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Archie, Boom, etc… A lot of comments seem to say you have to pick one type of fan or the other but I see the opposite of that every week. Personally, I buy a handful of new comics but I spend a good bit of money on back issues but there are trade buyers, many who just buy indy books and hardcore Marvel and DC fans. The idea is inclusion not specializing to a particular type of fan and the publishers need to keep that in mind.

    *Marvel and DC did hurt sales at the store during Conversion and Secret Wars and Marvel still really hasn’t recovered because a lot of customers dropped books and didn’t come back. DC helped the store with New 52 and Rebirth. Unfortunately, people who see a Marvel movie come in and ask for a Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, Captain America or other Marvel comic tend to be disappointed that the comics look nothing like the movies and have to be pointed to a trade or back issue.

  20. Lucy Pierre: “I’m afraid there are no new fans, we’re simply marketing to the same shrinking customer base.”

    Brandon and others on here fail to recognize that there are no new fans. The comics industry is like World Wrestling Entertainment.

    Spot on. The average comic sells in the mid 30s to 40s right? That’s just to retailers. A fair statement is that the comic sells a little less to customers. And that’s less and less each month.

    It’s a shrinking fan base and a slowly dying medium at this rate and with this American model. The European model of longer story in a premium format may be what the Big 2 need to try.

  21. Everyone sees that we need new fans however how to get them is a bit of a mystery. Most of the younger set seem to not really want to read comics. There are some loud voices that say they know what the new generation wants but so far that has not translated into actual sales.

    As much as some people seem to hate us wrong thinking dinosaurs we buy comics, even when the makers of said comics heap contempt on us. And if we just walked away and left letting all the right thing fans have their comics the comic industry would be dead in a year.

  22. If diversity doesn’t sell, then why the Hell is Ms Marvel doing so well? It’s a bullshit reason and Gabriel knew exactly what he was saying. Pointing the finger at minorities is just sad….but most of the consumers are old white men, so it works.

    But hey, at least Marvel doesn’t put a serial sexual predator in charge of its most prolific office and then make a policy no women can work there.

    This whole thing needs to burn to the ground.

  23. “The average comic sells in the mid 30s to 40s right?”

    Walking Dead and Saga sell higher than that – it’s the average big two comic that sells that isn’t attracting extra sales.

    “Most of the younger set seem to not really want to read comics. ”

    I don’t think that’s true. They might not buy comics, or at least American monthly comics,but they like comics a lot. Look at Raina Telgemeier’s sales, Bone etc.
    Its converting them into lifelong addicts like us where the issue lies.

  24. >What Is Marvel Saying?

    I think Marvel is saying SHE-HULK is a better title for a book about a character called She-Hulk and that they made a mistake.

  25. “If diversity doesn’t sell, then why the Hell is Ms Marvel doing so well?”

    The monthly MS. MARVEL comic racked up a whopping 18,271 sales in May 2017, coming in at 131 in the Top 300. The first volume of the MS. MARVEL trade sold a total of 682 copies in May 2017. No MS. MARVEL trade made the Bookscan Top 20 graphic novel list.

    While MS. MARVEL might be doing a bit better than that dreary evidence indicates, I don’t think it fits any definition of “doing well.”

    Mike

  26. Ever since Ms. Marvel was added to Kindle Unlimited, it’s been the #1 “Paid” superhero graphic novel on Amazon’s best seller list. Looking at all graphic novels, it’s second only to Darth Vader. The interest is absolutely there. Probably just not at $3.99 for a 20-page floppy.

    DC has made some pretty interesting moves with Injustice, DC Comics Bombshells and DC Super Hero Girls released as bite-sized $0.99 digital first. Injustice and Bombshells do get floppy releases but Super Hero Girls goes directly to $9.99 GN (6″ x 9″) which, given the target market, makes more sense to me.

  27. Chris,
    You and I have had respectful dialogue in these comment sections before and you have mentioned often that the whole thing needs to “burn down”. Isn’t just easier to ignore it? There’s plenty of stuff out there that Marvel and DC don’t produce to satisfy people.

  28. “While MS. MARVEL might be doing a bit better than that dreary evidence indicates, I don’t think it fits any definition of “doing well.”

    If it isn’t doing well now it must have been at some point – Marvel and DC wouldn’t have been so keen to change a chunk of their output to match it if it hadn’t been.

  29. Denny O’Neill, fabulous writer though he may be, isn’t a marketing or demographic expert. To say there are no new fans… well, there are a load of non-superhero books that women seem to read. Perhaps that’s the issue – trying to marketing an inherently male power fantasy to an audience that wants something different, and then being surprised when they don’t want it.

    Something like Sandman, to use a DC published example, still has loads of female readers. It’s a strong back catalogue title for DC. And it’s not “superhero” in the slightest. It features women in its cast of characters. The Death mini series was a pivotal piece for many readers of that era.

    It’s not that female or ethnic readers don’t want comics, they perhaps don’t want a comic that’s simply a rebadged, rebranded or slightly adjusted version of the status quo.

  30. Ms marvel not doing well ?! Please. You just have to look at her tpb numbers in my month to month sales charts to see no other marvel title is selling that much of its first tpb. It sold more in tpb than in floppy for its first issues. And yes, its selling every month good numbers of its firt tpb and no othet title except deadpool has been doing that for so long. Taking the sales level of its first volume only during one month, years after its first release, to make a point on how bad its selling compared to the first month sales of other tpb makes absolytly no sense. Its marvel s juggernaut in tpb, and it features a young girl, just live with it, guys.

  31. Ms.Marvel did very well out of the gate and has managed to do pretty well even in the DM because even many of us dinosaurs like it. However from what I have heard it is also suffering from the lack of new continuing readers. The first gn sales well but the rest tapers off to a very bad place.

  32. Ms. Marvel seems to have been somewhere between a juggernaut (early issues have probably sold 300k-400k) and a solid seller for Marvel. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that its all-channel sales didn’t fall under 100k until after Civil War II. (The publicly available data certainly seems to point in that direction.)

    That crossover may have badly hurt the title in the direct market, though. As soon as Civil War II ended, Ms. Marvel lost a third of its pre-crossover sales volume in just three months.

  33. >Perhaps that’s the issue – trying to marketing an inherently male power fantasy to an audience that wants something different, and then being surprised when they don’t want it.

    >That crossover may have badly hurt the title in the direct market, though. As soon as Civil War II ended, Ms. Marvel lost a third of its pre-crossover sales volume in just three months.

    Superheroes are fine but there’s just too many of them.

    DC and Marvel can’t expect nor force their new readers to buy like even 50% of their monthly output. I calculated their output. DCU core is around $160 per month, total floppies is around $250-300. Marvel releases somewhere from $300-400 worth of floppies every month.

    I believe using crossovers and events designed to force people to buy a large portion of your expensive publishing line quite likely pushes away readers more than it gets them to buy more books from you.

    While I enjoy Black Widow, Super Sons, Superman, etc, I do need variety in my entertainment and by that, I don’t just mean superheroes of a different gender or race. I love Monstress, Black Monday Murders, I Hate Fairyland, Kill Or Be Killed, Yona of the Dawn, Black Butler, Bleach, Skip Beat, Hunter X Hunter, MPD Psycho, Sailor Moon, etc.

    If there’s a book I’m following that gets dragged into a super mega event that will require my entire comics budget, I’m dropping that book instead of all the other ones I enjoy.

  34. I just don’t buy that customers are as stupid as you say. I guarantee the last issue of hulk with have something in the letters page or a whole page that says the stor continues in she-hulk 159, and then that issue will more than likely have a right up explaining legacy and the renumbering, hell it may have a cover gallery showing the books that count towards this numbering. Your customers are readers even if they miss this some how as a retailer you should make a point to inform your customers with signage, newsletters, or flyers explaining what books are being re titled and/or renumbered. You complain about marvel marketing, how about doing some of your own for your own business and not relying on the publishers.

  35. I used yo buy Ms Marvel in floppy format every month. then Marvel relaunched it to up its price to $4 and started doing crossovers on it.
    I stopped buying it and told myself I would switch to TPB. so far, I haven’t buy any. where’s the urgency? There are still gonne be available. With no sense of missing something RIGHT NOW (like the floppy release), I realize I kinda gave up on it. Like many others series I said I would follow on tpb format because of Marvel crappy floppy production policy. I’m probably not the only one in this case. TPB spells LATER. Floppy spells RIGHT NOW.

  36. “The monthly MS. MARVEL comic racked up a whopping 18,271 sales in May 2017, coming in at 131 in the Top 300. The first volume of the MS. MARVEL trade sold a total of 682 copies in May 2017. No MS. MARVEL trade made the Bookscan Top 20 graphic novel list.”

    “While MS. MARVEL might be doing a bit better than that dreary evidence indicates, I don’t think it fits any definition of “doing well.””

    On the Bookscan list for last year’s book sales, Ms. Marvel vol 1 is seventh place of all of Marvel’s books. That implies that for Marvel, it’s a good seller. Saying it didn’t do well because it isn’t beating Saga or Killing Joke or Dork Diaries seems to be missing the point.

  37. According to a recent Atlantic article about Marvel’s sales woes:

    “G. Willow Wilson’s excellent Ms. Marvel, a series starring a young Muslim heroine from Jersey City, debuted at a circulation of roughly 50,000 before holding steady at 32,000; the relaunched version a year later began at around 79,000 before dropping sharply to a current circulation of around 20,000.”

    This was cited as an example of how Marvel’s constant relaunchings badly erode readership. Every relaunching is an easy point for jumping off.

  38. This is an interesting point of view. Are you saying that changing characters is proper. For instance: Nick Fury going from white to black, Ms.Marvel being a stretchy young girl, Hawkeye being a girl, Thor being a girl… the list of changing characters goes on. This changing, more than anything else has been a major misstep for both Marvel and DC. I say this only from the standpoint of someone who has a love for comics but not enough money to actually purchase them regularly. So there are years where I am just totally out of the loop and all of a sudden(to me anyway) everythings changed!
    Changing core characters at the basic level is far more disconcerting than changing a titles name to represent the character inside. I know nothing about the hulk line, like the Red Hulk, Totally Awesome Hulk and Red She Hulk are characters I’ve been seeing but have no idea where they came from. Seeing that the title of The Hulk changed to She-Hulk to represent the main character is so far below the concern of the normal that the outrage expressed in this article feels really unhinged. (Especially the Twitter posts. I really wouldn’t have posted them.)
    That being said, I do understand where its coming from. Its just that I come from the other side and want my super heroes who bear a name to continue bearing the same name and not have someone else I don’t recognize be that person. (Usually without much explanation to my once a year purchasing habit “eye”)

  39. Wow, okay. Doug, it’s nice that you seem to know what my voice is better than I do.

    Here’s the long and short of it: despite there being co-credit in this article, the last article, and one previous, right below the column’s logo, in bold – and a bio for both of us at the end of the article space (before the author space) in these past two columns, people like yourself didn’t seem to think the article was co-written. It was. In fact, almost all of these articles have been, as Danica and I hash them out usually over a night, back and forth.

    She invaluable to how these come together. In the past, I had neglected to note this properly, which is an oversight on my part that I have been attempting to remedy. To be honest, we’ve had long discussions about this, and before, she was uncomfortable with noting her contributions because she thought some jerks on the internet would either come for her, or do exactly what you’re insinuating.

    Anyway, my wife an I will continue to collaborate in this fashion and push for a better industry where the uniformed dismissal of women as participants, contributors, workers, and owners isn’t common place.

  40. Just goes to show you why Danica is so invaluable to the process: I left out a huge part of that last comment.

    The fact that dudes (and it by the comments here, exclusively dudes) can’t seem to take the time to read the bi-lines properly, I went ahead and made changes to the account we use to post these articles with to prevent that confusion. Doesn’t seem like EVERYONE needed it, but what can you do.

  41. I don’t think I’d mind the name switching and the character twisting as much if I didn’t feel that it wasn’t because of the necessity of the story, but because it fit into a marketing plan. Also some of the writers take a near sadistic pleasure in taunting fans, like Marvel saying that eventually Peter Parker fans would “just fade away”. When Harlen Elilson plays the old curmudgeon you can tell that he doesn’t like you, but not that he doesn’t still want you to read his writing. I’ve been flat out told by Stephen Wacker never to read any title he edits and Dan Slott echoed that. I’m not a consumer or a reader to them, I’m just an annoyance they want to sell comics to.

  42. I don’t know enough about sales to comment one way or another. I’m not sure what Marvel hopes to accomplish with legacy numbering. It’s almost like they heard people complaining about the large number of legacy characters and deciding the issue numbers were the problem. The actual Legacy event keeps all the legacy characters.

    As far as the Hulk/She-Hulk discussion goes, I am a male reader who was looking forward to a series dealing with Jennifer’s coping with the post-Civil War trauma, because what happened to her (and her cousin) obviously affected her. So I was interested in what would happen to the character. My complaint about the book is that it has not really been a superhero book for most of its run. In a book called “Hulk” or “She-Hulk,” a Hulk/She-Hulk should show up. I’m willing to give a story a few issues to get rolling, but four or five issues in, there was no Hulk. To me, being an old man, this problem stems from as early as The Hulk TV series, which destroyed the comics for a number of years because they became more Banner and relationship heavy. Additionally, the Hulk/She-Hulk book is one of those in which very little happens from issue to issue.

    Personally, I have found my tastes have changed a great deal. I noticed all of the titles I follow tend to almost exclusively have female protagonists. But they are superhero books. Because they are genre books, they have to keep certain promises to their readers. A murder mystery ceases being a murder mystery if there is no murder and we just follow the detective around watching him deal with his OCD.

  43. I dont need to look at marvel’s words i can look at their actions and conclude they have no idea what they are doing. they clearly have a short term view of their company which had they never been bought by disney, would lead them to another bankruptcy.

    however if i did pay attention to their words i would certainly come to the conclusion they dont know what they are doing simply for the fact i have never seen a industry player blame their customers for their problems before.

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