We’ve been telling you for a while that NPD/Bookscan – a company that track sell through of books in various outlets – has been eager to get more of their comics sales info out there. Bookscan’s Kristen Mclean has been leading the charge on this and she’s got a lot of data points to back her up.

And now the comics business news site ICv2 has struck a deal with NPD/Bookscan to reprint monthly graphic novel bestseller lists in five categories.

The new collaboration will kick off with full year 2017 graphic novel bestseller charts, including the overall top sellers, plus the bestsellers in the Manga, Kids, Superhero, and Author subcategories.  ICv2 Pro subscribers will see those same charts with actual sales quantities.  Monthly charts will begin with sales in January 2018. “We’re excited to be partnering more closely with ICv2,” said Kristen Mclean, Executive Director, Business Development at The NPD Group.  “We believe the sustained growth in Comics and Graphic Novels in the Trade side of the market is an important trend that publishers and retailers need to understand as we all navigate a rapidly changing consumer landscape.  ICv2’s 360-degree view will help everyone engage and understand the opportunities; and we are looking forward to working together on this type of insight in the coming year.”

The collab kicked off with the full year bestsellers for 2017.

Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 Adult Graphic Novels
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 Kids Graphic Novels
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 Manga
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 ‘Author’ Graphic Novels
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 ‘Superhero’ Graphic Novels

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ICv2 will also be making the ACTUAL NUMBERS available,  but to get them  you’ll need to sign up for their ICv2 Pro service.  Given that a Bookscan subscription is five figures (or more) this is a bargain.

Now normally, I’d be analyzing the heck out of these list – as Brian Hibbs will be doing just that a bit later this month – but out of respect for ICv2’s Milton Griepp and their exclusive, I’ll refrain from reprinting the lists with my own commentary. Click those links!

However, reprinted with ICv2’s permission, I’d like to draw your attention to the Top 20 Adult Graphic Novels of 2017. The vast majority – 17 out of 20 – included female, Asian or African-American members on the creative teams. Of the three that didn’t, two were backlist perennials, and one was Walking Dead.

 

I’ve made a little chart just to give you visual representation of this.

UPDATED - bookscan2017.jpg

Roz Chast! Emil Ferris! Jomny Sun! The Legend of Zelda’s “Akira Himekawa” is actually two adorable middle aged Japanese women who are fantastic cartoonists.

And for those keeping score, the only new superhero book to chart is Ta-Nahesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s Black Panther.

I made a smaller chart for the kids list just to show the books by women. (Not as much racial diversity here.)

kids_GNs-2017.png

(In case you’re an old like me, Dantdm is one of those YoutTube gaming personalities we don’t understand.)

I’d like to offer these charts as evidence against the flat earthers out there who insist that “forced” diversity is “killing comics” or similar twaddle. Feel free to repost as much as you like. These are simply good books that are of interest to readers.

Nothing more, nothing less.

It IS a more serious issue that the comics periodical is in decline, and has been for quite a while. DC’s decision to launch their YA and middle grade lines as graphic novels is a sign of the times and an acceptance of reality.

And please don’t give me anything about “newsstands.” As I’ve been saying for a decade or so, there are no more newsstands. Unless you count Amazon.

So let’s recap:

• Graphic novels (satisfying chunk) widely available at bookstores and comics shops. And on Amazon.

• Indie bookstores have been amazingly resilient in the age of digital and show no signs of disappearing in the immediate future.

• Comics shops, reliant on Big Two events to keep up interest, have had a hard time retaining readers as older audiences who prefer the periodical format are aging out of the material.

Now, I know this is by no means an awesomely optimistic short-term prognosis – chain bookstores are NOT healthy, Amazon is a looming theat to everything, and losing comics shops would be deadly to many publishers.

However, this is the “fifth disruption” that Griepp has been speaking about. The “comic book” aka periodical/pamphlet/floppy will adapt to this disruption in some way, just as newspaper strips morphed into digital comics (to be collected in profitable print formats, whether via crowdfunding or traditional publishers.) Either as a specialty item or in some other way.

It’s clear that we’re going to see a loss of jobs for some segments of the comics industry, though, including creators. Market contractions weed out less popular formats and styles. So it’s not all going to be fun for the next couple of years.

But, comics as a medium are doing fine, surviving, creating new franchises and moving forward.

And you can quote me on that.

march-book-one-cover-300dpi-

68 COMMENTS

  1. That DanTDM book is co-illustrated by Doreen Mulryan, who gets zero credit for it anywhere aside from a line on the title page.

    Amazon & the Harper Collins website both don’t list her name, and the Google Books search page only lists her co-illustrator, Mike Love, which of course links to the Google page for the Beach Boy.

    So, feel free to add that book to the list of women.

  2. “I’d like to offer these charts as evidence against the flat earthers out there who insist that “forced” diversity is “killing comics” or similar twaddle.”

    So, does that mean we can stop race/sex swapping characters now? And will you be running a similar list of monthly comics, noting the sex and race of creators there?

    Mike

  3. “Sex and species swapping? You mean like this?”

    Yeah, I’m sure you’d be yukking it up if they killed off Kamala Khan and replaced her with a white girl or brought back Mar-Vell to boot Carol Danvers back into oblivion.

    If you ever wonder why you and some of your similar posters take crap around here, it’s not your political or cultural views. It’s that you are EXACTLY like the very people you complain about and have no empathy or understanding of anyone different from you.

    Mike

  4. “…the comics periodical is in decline, and has been for quite a while.”

    Some quick thoughts about the periodical:

    Unit sales of periodicals to retailers have been up six of the last seven years — and 12 of the last 16. Unit sales were actually one of the last categories to start seeing year-on-year monthly drops during this last downturn, because Rebirth packed 2016 with lots of low-cost comics. Regular year-on-year unit sales declines didn’t start until June, once we were comparing against those titles. That roughly coincides also with Ingram selling off its periodical business last May, and the reduced slate you’ve seen since at bookstores.

    Periodicals punch above their weight in ways people don’t often consider, I find. They’re the basis for the largest portion by far of the aftermarket — which as a sector of the comics business could well be more than twice the size of digital. Supply, grading, convention, and auction industries also rely on the periodical.

    Success in any channel and in any format is welcome, I always say. Narratives of competition between them are tempting, but the ecosystem is sprawling and complex — not to mention resilient, at least historically.

  5. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the “backlash against diversity” was not so much against diversity itself but, rather, against the way publishers ( Marvel for the most part, actually) implemented their agenda of diversification. It was just so ham-handed and dubiously implemented.

  6. (I would further add that Heidi’s and my different perspectives — as journalist and archivist respectively — probably influence our takes. Her view on periodicals may ultimately be right; I agree it would be traumatic, and in ways which could be surprising. I’m just expecting I’d need to see several more years like 2017 or worse to be certain of any kind of channel shift.)

  7. Heidi, your quote should be: Diversity is alive and well in original comics and graphic novels. Marvel is killing their core characters at the moment with their idea of diversity. That is obvious in the sales numbers for individual books. You’ll get no arguement from me that diverstiy is good for the industry and is needed but, just leave our traditional characters alone. The industry needs more creativity not lazy gender or race swapping.
    As for sales growth, the reason why Marvel keeps selling so many books is that they, well, they sell so many books. When you have 150+ books selling 5000-35000, numbers tend to add up.

  8. I find it interesting how my own preferences for comics don’t make it into bestseller lists (otherwise Batman and Tom King books would be represented). I’m too geekish for a mainstream book crowd, I guess.
    For me, the issue of diversity is a non-issue, in a way. I think the sales of March and Black Panther are due to author prominence. It’s good and may indicate something about progressiveness of readers but the prominence element can’t be disregarded.
    I’ve read March and think it’s a terrific work. Black Panther was okay (prefer Priest, which I’ve just discovered and bought) but wasn’t all that.
    It has always been good that comics as a small alt medium has generated supported harbours of representation. It will continue to.

  9. I understand the general point being made about the “comics” market, but I wouldn’t rely on a largely manga-driven book list to make the arguments about diversity. Pro or con. No one complains about manga being written and drawn by Asian creators; it’s the genre. But the perceived recent trend in replacing mainline superheroes (in periodical series) with persons of color, junior partners, sidekicks, longtime allies, etc. is by no means represented by the percentage of Top 20 Book Scan books or their creators’ races/genders. These numbers say more about trends in the comic BOOK market and larger trends in the market for comics.

  10. Just to clarify my comment: I feel like the Top 20 list says more about the popularity of manga with adult graphic novel customers of bookstores than it does about diversity. People read manga because they like the art and writing. People read American comic books because they like the art and writing. This Top 20 list says something about how each of those types of comic book is received by readers, but it doesn’t really seem to say much about demographics of the creators.

  11. “you are EXACTLY like the very people you complain about and have no empathy or understanding of anyone different from you.”

    The irony here is off the charts.

  12. Feels like you are missing the point what people mean when they say that “forced diversity” is killing comics:

    1. These people usually talk about superhero comics and monthly sales. Graphic novel sales are not that relevant to their narrative.
    2. So speaking about that. DC has two entries from 80s, Marvel has one entry from current output.
    3. Meanwhile list is populated by non-superhero comics. In fact we could say that it is dominated by Manga since it has 9 entries alone by Viz Media. To them, if they actually care about GN sales, this will be clear argument that “forced diversity” isn’t selling for Marvel and DC.
    4. I’m not sure if it makes sense to mark Manga titles as having “diverse” creators since they are probably made in Japan by Japanese creators. Thats functionally same as white creators producing comics in USA.

  13. 1, The “diversity is killing comics” thing was never about the demographics of the creators.

    2. Everyone already knows manga is made by Japanese people.

    Neither of these things has anything to do with Marvel hamfistedly cramming identity politics into their superhero books while sales implode. The fact that these largely unrelated facts are the best pushback one could come up with speaks volumes.

  14. For those focusing on superhero comics, there is a top 20 superhero bookscan link up there.

    Out of the top 20, Black Panther Book 1 and Book 2 appear on the list as does Ms. Marvel Volume 1.

    Ms. Marvel Volume 1 came out in 2014 and over the 4 years since it has been one of the better Marvel sellers on bookscan. Unless there is a change to this trend, I’m guessing Ms Marvel Vol. 1 will be on the 2018 bookscan list. Actually, Ms Marvel Vol. 1 the only Marvel trade on the top 20 list without a connection to a movie. As the other Marvel sellers are Old Man Logan (Logan came out last year), Infinity Gauntlet and Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe even Black Panther are movie related.

    That said, I wish the list went deeper than just the top 20 of 2017 for each category. It’s a small cut off point when talking about data for a whole year.

  15. I believe the “Superhero” list would more accurately describe the buying habits of the traditional comic reader. The positive message is that today’s bookstore (and online) shoppers enjoy a wide variety of comic book material as evidenced by the broad variety of titles on the lists – kids graphic novels, classic perennial superhero faire, multimedia tie in properties, up and coming new favorites, noteworthy literary works, manga, and edgy creator owned series. I really don’t think many people care about the skin color (or the gender) of the writer or artist when they’re thumbing through a catchy graphic novel at the store. And how awesome is it that ICV2 and NPD BookScan are teaming up to share a new slice of comic book industry data! Hopefully it will drive healthy and smart competition in the marketplace, so that readers and creators of all stripes can continue to enjoy the medium.

  16. With apologies to Heidi, it’s pretty hard to dispute the effects that “forced” diversity has had on Marvel’s sales what with the ever increasing reports of difficulties that retailers are having as regards selling their periodicals. Just witness the reports of comic shop closings as covered by this very site. Many of which attribute an inability to sell Marvel comics as a factor in their having to close up shop.
    The problem with forced diversity was that it actually felt as if we were having it forced on us. Crammed down our throats, as it were.
    I have no issues with diversity in comics, whether in the creative teams or in comics themselves. But when I read a Spider-Man, Iron Man or Hulk comic I kind of want to see Peter, Tony and Bruce in the pages of that comic. I grew up with those characters. They guided me through my childhood into adolescence and then accompanied me into my adulthood. Those characters are like my comfort food. In a palpable sense, I crave them.
    Take them out of the pages of those books and my once prodigious Marvel comic book habit, which accounted for hundred of dollars monthly, drops to zero. Zilch.
    It’s simple cause and effect.

  17. And not because Peter, Tony Bruce and so on were replaced/suborned by women or people of color. But because they were replaced/suborned by them to serve some strange p.c. agenda that seems artificial and forced.
    When Rhodey replaced Tony as Iron Man, I stayed on gladly and happily. It was organic and did not seem forced.
    But when every other character is replaced in short order in what seems an oddly forced manner, it’s hard to swallow.

  18. To all you “diversity killed Marvel” commenters – it’s nice that you have a Burning Man you can sacrifice to your Corn King while ignoring all the OTHER reasons that Marvel sales are going down: event fatigue, constantly shifting creative teams, subpar art, the need to churn out a certain number of titles no matter what the quality, and the over reliance on variant covers, which has caused retailer fatigue and resentment.

    If you want to read what an ACTUAL retailer has to say about all of this, you might try reading Brian HIbbs’ Tilting at Windmills column right here:

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/category/tilting-at-windmills/

    Also, the point of my chart is not to say that it has to do with what the anti-diversity crowd likes to read. It’s to show the wider readership.

    Let’s get this straight: YOU don’t like “forced” diversity, YOU don’t like Marvel’s direction. All your arguments are about *YOU* not the comics market as a whole. Stop being so solipsistic.

    John Jackson Miller: You’re the first person I’ve seen blame Ingram for the decline in periodical comics sales! You’ll notice that I didn’t say that the periodical is doomed. I said it was going to evolve into something else. The whole feeder system of periodical sales and GNS as two revenue streams for the same materials (much as the theatrical to DVD model works in Film) has worked for a while. But BOTH those models are changing now.

  19. You’re absolutely correct when you cite those factors as determinants in the erosion of Marvel’s readership, Heidi. Their inability to recognize and address how event fatigue, c-list creative teams, constant reboots, and variant covers have afflicted them doesn’t help matters at all.
    Thing is, many readers stuck around through the many, various clone debacles in the spider-titles. They slogged through the incomprehensible messes of the civil wars and secret invasions. Tolerated decompressed storytelling and comics that were basically pages of talking heads with insipid dialogue.
    Heck, Marvel managed to retain their fans through the horror show they made of their titles in the 90s.
    People got through it all partly because, at the very least, those comics still featured the characters they were looking for/expecting to find in those pages.
    Take those characters away, especially in ridiculously contrived ways and for dubious reasons, and then still keep up with all the dreck and expect some backlash.
    If the substitutions had only been done in a more polished, organic way, they might have been more palatable to more people.
    Why is it so wrong to want to see the continuing adventures of Peter Parker in the pages of the spectacular Spider-Man? Or of Bruce Banner in the Incredible Hulk? Thor in Thor?
    Marvel definitely has to address everything you mention if they want to save their sinking ship, though.
    They need to bring in new editorial and creative teams that understand how to tell engaging, well written stories. They need to cease relying on events and gimmicks to pump up weak sales.
    They need to bring back Jim Shooter!

  20. I’m not sure the “look, we bought Marvel comics when they were terribly written, amateurishly drawn and dramatically overpriced many times before, but once they started including more female characters and POC characters that was too far!” argument is really making the case you think it’s making.

  21. Matthew Fabb, I checked super hero list and it only has those three collections that could be considered “diverse”, everything else is pretty much regular superhero stuff that people rallying against diversity are advocating for. Maybe Harley and Wonder Woman could get a pass too, but realistically speaking most of the list is filled with stuff that could be described as “white men writing stories about white men for white men”.

    Heidi MacDonald, I don’t think that any reasonable person who has followed comic book sales for a while is going to dispute the facts about Marvel (and other publishers) having lots of bad practices. But in terms of monthly comics Marvel has struggled to sell their diverse casts and asides of Ms. Marvel and Black Panther (and that probably requires some footnotes due to Coates being big name and all the hype surrounding BP movie) I’m not sure if anything can really be considered a hit. Is it fair that some people are claiming that diversity is killing the industry? No and it is a shame than pro-consumers arguments are lost in the shuffle, but at the same time I don’t think that it is fair to brush aside the fact that push for diversity, in terms of dollars, hasn’t really worked outside of few exceptions.

    I’m also a bit unsure about saying that something is “YOUR problem” and how this doesn’t have anything to do with industry itself. Well if there are enough people that share these views then they are going to cause an impact on sales which in turns will be the problem for whole industry.

  22. “Let’s get this straight: YOU don’t like “forced” diversity, YOU don’t like Marvel’s direction. All your arguments are about *YOU* not the comics market as a whole. Stop being so solipsistic.”

    That’s not really fair to your readers, Heidi. The point everyone is politely trying to make is that the biggest negative in the market when it comes to sales is Marvels attempt at diversity. Marvel is the problem. Not Viz, Fantagraphics, Image, DC, etc. This is all about Marvel Comics. Your article’s title states that diversity is selling a lot. Ok, but is diversity in Marvel selling a lot? Manga is selling a lot and even original characters like Black Lightning are selling, especially since the very decent tv show, but Spidey, Hulk, Thor, Cap and on and on… they are not selling very well unless a gimmick is added and then it is temporary. Events and variants are hurting Marvel but they are being used not so much for greed, like in the Perlmutter 90s, but as a are also temporary band aids for the constant bleeding of sales numbers. This is obviously a problem for Marvel at the moment and what happens to Marvel happens to the entire ‘American’ comics industry.
    Without retailers, comics don’t sell here in the US and retailers are dropping similar to how they did in those nasty 90s mostly due to Marvel not selling. Comic shops live and die on a few hundred bucks a month swing and losing a huge portion of sales that is Marvel is deadly for that shop. Every retailer is precious to the industry so losing even one is a problem yet when 50 close up in a single quarter…. ouch!
    Anyway, your readers seem to be on the same page in that diversity is fine but when it changes the characters we all grew up with and love, it has gone too far and the only one doing that is Marvel. So, these reader comments are not an example of mass solipsism, but about concern for the entire industry here in the US of which Marvel rules.

  23. Thank you for pointing that out, RJT. That really wasn’t what I was trying to say. I was merely trying to say that sometimes when people are looking for a product like a Reuben sandwich, they will put up with a shoddy Reuben sandwich. Sometimes even a terrible Reuben. But when said Reuben keeps coming out of the sandwich bag as a BLT or something, people will inevitably stop buying Reubens from the purveyor that keeps saying that BLT is, in fact, a Reuben.
    To be clear, I am all for diversity in comics. Be it in the creative teams or in the characters themselves but the way it was rolled out was clumsy and off-putting, to say the least.

  24. >Graphic novels (satisfying chunk) widely available at bookstores and comics shops. And on Amazon.<

    AND, because it uses the same distribution system as bookstores, school libraries and public libraries.

    Then there's the Scholastic Book Fairs, which aren't reported to the trade.
    SBF has sold at least 2 Million copies of "Smile" through that system.

    As for Ingram, that was acquired by TNG.
    http://s7d3.scene7.com/s7viewers/html5/eCatalogViewer.html?emailurl=http://s7d3.scene7.com/s7/emailFriend&serverUrl=http://s7d3.scene7.com/is/image/&config=Scene7SharedAssets/Universal_HTML5_eCatalog&contenturl=http://s7d3.scene7.com/skins/&asset=EView/IPI_2018

    FIVE titles. (Seven if you count Funny Times and Hogan's Alley.) (MAD is over in "Entertainment".)

  25. Heidi said: “You’re the first person I’ve seen blame Ingram for the decline in periodical comics sales!”

    Not quite what I wrote or meant — but indeed, 2017 was the year in which the newsstand market entered its final days, and Ingram’s sale was one of the last acts of the last act. TNG’s slate is dramatically smaller, so the newsstand’s small addition to the overall was reduced by a larger-than-usual amount. It’s basically down to the Archie digests and a few million dollars worth of random comics.

    As to the model evolving? Perhaps — but unlike the newsstand, the Direct Market has many highly interested vested interests in the current scheme, so I suspect it would take a tremendous amount of activation energy for a major change.

  26. Torsten, I’m guessing that TNG’s 2018 catalog is probably not fully representative of its slate — a check with Barnes & Noble this weekend found all the Archie digests, so presuming their business went to TNG, there must be more items in the orrder form. But the selection is certainly much reduced. DC had 20 titles in the final Ingram order form last summer; that’s all absent.

  27. Interesting how almost every discussion here turns into an argument about Marvel.

    “The point everyone is politely trying to make is that the biggest negative in the market when it comes to sales is Marvels attempt at diversity.”

    Most readers over 12 knew that Tony Stark and the rest would eventually be back in their costumes. The real problems are the ones Heidi mentioned, including event fatigue, shuffling of creative teams, subpar art, endless cancellations and relaunches, and sky high prices.

    As the Atlantic pointed out in an article last year: “Collecting Marvel becomes very expensive, very quickly.”

  28. Pretty silly to label Japanese manga as ‘diverse’ because it has an Asian creator! If you did a similar list of comics made and sold in Japan there probably wouldn’t be a single white or black person on it!

  29. Absolutely, yes, most people knew that the original characters would be back eventually. But what about all the readers that abandon the books in the interim? How many of those readers will return when the original characters come back? Especially given the way those readers are treated when they question Marvel about their motives for the mass substitutions of their beloved characters.
    What was wrong with possibly reviving the Spider-Girl and Wild Thing characters?
    What about Monica Rambeau? The first female Captain Marvel and a childhood favorite of mine.
    Not that I have any problems with Carol Danvers assuming the name but come on now! Monica was leader of the Avengers for a time during one of Marvel’s most fruitful eras.
    I have no issues with female and POC characters. And welcome their greater inclusion into the Marvel Universe but they should be logically implemented.
    There were many different ways Marvel could have gone but for whatever reason chose not to.
    Which is endemic of the very problems people are discussing in this thread. Those being, among a host of others, the lack of vision, creativity and talent at Marvel and their ever increasing reliance on events and/or gimmicks to temporarily inflate sales.

  30. George, but thats precisely the problem. If regular readers know that Falcon becoming Captain America is just a temporary gimmick then why should they care about it? I remember when Steve died and Bucky became new Captainž there were also people saying that it is just a gimmick and Steve will return, but there were was a good chunk of people thinking that maybe Bucky is indeed new Captain America for good. So what changed? Sure, some assholes dropped it because Falcon is black, but I think that bigger problem was that people were getting tired of these gimmick storylines already. Just like we have event fatigue we probably have something similar with “replacement fatigue”.

    And I think in this case distinction could be made between fans who have problems with diversity itself and people who have problems with replacements.

  31. That was another head scratcher right there. Why did the mantle and shield of Captain America fall to Sam Wilson, the Falcon, anyway? It didn’t make much sense even given Steve and Sam’s longtime partnership. Sam never came off particularly patriotic and lacked any military experience. Unless I missed something or it was ret-conned in.
    A more intriguing choice if Cap’s replacement had to be African-American might have been Isaiah Bradley. Or even Isaiah’s son Josiah X. Both have military service in their backgrounds and both were products of the same Super-Soldier project that created Cap.
    One’s a mentally impaired senior-citizen that was used as a guinea pig and then cast aside in favor of a white man for the role of Captain America. The other is his Muslim minister son, spawned in yet another hideous government experiment, and unknown to either for a great portion of their lives.
    How’s thems for diversity?
    Or how about the ever loving blue eyed Benjamin J. Grimm? He’s a vet and the Thing! He’s also of Jewish ancestry, which might make for some interesting exploration. What if while contemplating taking on the role of Captain America, he wanders his old Lower Eastside neighborhood (where Steve Rogers also grew up incidentally, contrary to the whole Brooklyn thing as described in the MCU) and has a run-in with the Yancy street gang. What if during/after said run-in, Ben takes under his wing a Yancy street gang hanger-on (or member). Perhaps the first generation child of immigrants, someone that epitomizes the American Dream. Maybe even a sidekick of sorts that utilizes Cap’s shield as Ben hardly needs it and would probably find it a little unwieldy to use. He or she could be Bucky to Ben’s Captain America. And maybe one day even Captain America.
    Or maybe not.
    But I think there were a great many other ways Marvel could have gone there instead of with Sam as Captain America.
    I hope I am getting my point across, though. I’m saying that the wholesale mass substitutions of our beloved old characters for race and gender swapped analogues is/was hardly worthy of our beloved House of Ideas.
    What they did just smacked of gimmickry and desperation. Jane Foster as Thor? Seriously? Anyone else remember her failing Odin’s test to prove her worthiness to just marry Thor?
    And Miles Morales is just Peter Parker’s Puerto-Rican/African-American doppelgänger.
    Marvel can/must do better than that…

  32. “I’m saying that the wholesale mass substitutions of our beloved old characters for race and gender swapped analogues is/was hardly worthy of our beloved House of Ideas.”

    Stop saying “our.” Speak for yourself. Also, they’re not yours. You don’t own them. You’re not entitled to them or any stories featuring them. If they’re not putting out comics you want to read, move on with you life jesus christ.

  33. Thank you for pointing that out, Skip. To clarify, I was in no way implying ownership of those characters and will amend my words.
    I’m saying that the wholesale mass substitutions of beloved characters for race and gender swapped analogues is/was hardly worthy of the beloved House of Ideas.
    And, yes, I have stopped buying Marvel periodicals entirely. Down from the small fortune I used to regularly spend on them on a yearly basis. Which is part of the problem, actually.
    While my stake in Marvel/their parent company certainly does not confer ownership of Marvel and its characters, I do have a vested interest in how Marvel does financially as I am a shareholder.
    Aside from how much it would please me to see Marvel putting out a substantially better product just on the basis of how it might buoy my stake in their interests monetarily, I also just kind of miss the prominence of those old characters.
    I liken it to new/old Coke. New Coke sucked. And it affected the company bottom line. They brought old Coke back. People were happy. Coke made more money.
    I can and have moved on. And my buying habits with me. I am hardly alone in that. Thus Marvel’s current plight.
    If you meant I should move on from this subject on this forum, I apologize if my posts have bored or antagonized you. My extended participation in this thread is mostly due to how much I want to see/participate in a dialogue about how Marvel’s lack of creativity has affected them and what possible remedies there might be. It’s pretty clear that Marvel’s diversity initiative hasn’t worked out quite the way they had hoped.

  34. >>>It’s pretty clear that Marvel’s diversity initiative hasn’t worked out quite the way they had hoped.

    It’s pretty clear a LOT of things Marvel tried haven’t worked out, including LEGACY, which returned all your precious white male heroes. By Escapist’s logic, this should have sent Marvel’s sales SOARING, and yet it didn’t.

    Could it be that the actual quality of the comics – and event fatigue, variant fatigue, weak talent, marketing woes – was more of a factor than the identity of the heroes?

    And yet the Very Serious Concern Trolls just go on and on and on about the “failure” of diversity.

    I wonder why that is? I just can’t imagine.

    Stating over and over and over again that you didn’t like the “diversity wave” heroes while not factoring in all of Marvel’s other problems makes it very clear what the REAL problem is here. Remember “Bigoted Santa Claus”?

  35. Having considered and weighed all the comments in this thread I think certain thruths are self evident.

    1) We all care about the general health of the industry, and Marvel Comic specifically.
    2) While event fatigue, variant covers, poor writing and artwork and pricing contributed to Marvels sales woes, forced diversity coupled with the shelving of beloved classic characters is what broke the camel’s back.
    3) Whether Marvel sales rebound with the return of said classic charcters remains to be seen.

    Nuf said.

  36. >> Also, the point of my chart is not to say that it has to do with what the anti-diversity crowd likes to read. It’s to show the wider readership.

    The point of your chart is literally to show that “white males” aren’t high up on the top 20 graphic novel chart. A chart that is 45% manga, 15% celebrity-driven (or movie-driven) sales, 20% Image and DC, with the rest made up by school and library sales.

    It says a lot more about your relentless oppression-studies perspective than it does about traditional comics publishing, which really has a minimal presence here. There is no enlightenment to be had about “comics” in the traditional sense, you just have to scratch that itch.

  37. “And yet the Very Serious Concern Trolls just go on and on and on about the “failure” of diversity.”

    Wow, what I see are folks that are trying to make their points in a polite way and yet you call them trolls? These are your readers, Heidi. Just because they are passionate about this subject does not make them trolls. Perhaps, the reason why Legacy is failing is a combination of event fatigue (as you point out) ‘and’ the dreaded D(iversity). Oh, and maybe because it is just bad. Still, you make it seem that their (and my) comments don’t matter by calling them trolls. Interesting way to run a site.

  38. “If regular readers know that Falcon becoming Captain America is just a temporary gimmick then why should they care about it?”

    If you’ve been reading corporate comics (Marvel and DC) for any length of time, you should know that EVERYTHING in them is a gimmick. The fake deaths and replacements of characters are always temporary. Just a gimmick to goose sales until the next movie comes out. Even Peter Parker’s 20-year marriage vanished.

    There was a time when it was possible to shock readers — say, when Gwen Stacy died in 1973, or when Jean Grey bit the dust in 1980 and Elektra in ’82. (Marvel negated the impact of the last two by reviving the characters.) Back then, the death of a hero or supporting character was rare and usually permanent. But now, of course, death — and everything else in superhero comics — is just a temporary condition.

  39. “I’m saying that the wholesale mass substitutions of beloved characters for race and gender swapped analogues is/was hardly worthy of the beloved House of Ideas.”

    In the old days, Marvel and DC would create female and young versions of their characters for copyright protection. DC copyrighted the name “Supergirl” in 1944 to keep other companies from using it. (The character didn’t appear in a comic book until 1959.) Marvel created She-Hulk after Stan Lee heard the producers of the “Hulk” TV show were going to create a female version that Marvel wouldn’t own.

    Today the motivation is “diversity,” but I wonder if there are copyright concerns as well.

    Really, the people here whining about Marvel need to move on with their lives, and find something they like. The comics you loved as kids or as teenagers are gone, and they’re not coming back. Every generation learns this; now it’s your turn.

    If you want comics to be your “comfort food” (bland, predictable, inoffensive) … well, that’s part of the problem.

  40. Diversity comics: Jane Foster being Thor is really quite nifty, as is ages old sidekick Sam Wilson being Cap. Amadeus Cho is a great character, particularly written collaboratively by Van Lente and Pak, but when drawn by Frank Cho and with relentless perves on Thundra-type characters, I tune out. All have organic elements that I don’t mind but my choice to buy rests on other things, e.g. I do dislike Roxxon as the villian in Thor.

    As primarily a trade reader, I rely on reviews and check out books with buzz, including those others associate with diversity. Because of buzz, I’ve read first several tpbs of Ms Marvel and Giant Days. I liked both a lot not least for their diverse representation but I found that I’ve got tired of them because they’re not really my type of book. That’s OK, Ms Marvel performs the same role as Spider-Man, and I don’t buy Spider-Man particularly either. Four books in on Giant Days, and I’ve grown tired of the concerns of the characters in that situation, and I like it less than I did. A book like Lumberjanes I just don’t like – but if the book was about a bunch of boys, I wouldn’t like it either (I do like the Junior Woodchucks but old Carl Barks stories are on another level completely).

    That I don’t buy these books doesn’t make me anti-diversity. I don’t begrudge their existence either. Steve Orlando’s Midnighter books are decent to look at and read, with its gaze turned on male bodies on a particular way. However, books that I own and am glad that I own includes Garth Ennis’ Kev series, with its Glenn Fabry James Bond parody cover (you’ll know it if you’re familiar). Ennis’ book is slightly problematic in the extent of its satire and the determinations of character-based homophobia or Ennis’, bur Jeez that book is satirical and fun. It was also the most interesting place to go with the Authority, and it extended the franchise for me.

    Determinations of left and right, I find, have limited value in what’s interesting to read. The thing that I most liked about Frank Miller’s Sin City comics were reading his right-wing diatribes and rants in the letters column. Again I like owning these things, more than having a ‘diverse’ superhero collection.

    I understand the want and desire to see yourself represented in the medium: more power to diverse characters and books, like Ms Marvel, which is excellent.

    If publishers can attract sections of the YA book market, more power to them; and there will be good books, like Giant Days, et al. Frank Miller said in interview about his DD run though, that he knew his audience was not juvenile. I kind of agree with that, and this judgement like this informs my reading and buying.

    So: keep the good books coming, whatever they are/your preference?

  41. “Frank Miller said in interview about his DD run though, that he knew his audience was not juvenile.”

    I was in my early 20s during Miller’s DD run in the early 1980s, so I was probably “in the demo” (demographic) for that book, which was my favorite at the time.

  42. “what I see are folks that are trying to make their points in a polite way and yet you call them trolls?”

    Concern trolls. They pretend to care about Marvel’s falling sales but really they’re just bigots who want to push an agenda.

    “you make it seem that their (and my) comments don’t matter by calling them trolls.”

    It’s telling that you immediately identify with the trolls.

  43. “I think certain thruths are self evident . . . forced diversity coupled with the shelving of beloved classic characters is what broke the camel’s back.”

    No, your “thruths” (sic) are neither self evident nor true. They’re wrong.

  44. The issue with blaming diversity and/or content issue is that it’s not like the other books are selling like crazy. The industry as a whole has been trending downward. I suspect the issue is more the business model, which has not adjusted to modern buyers. Look, I like the monthly model because I have a limited amount of time, and the monthly periodicals allow me to keep up with some fascinating worlds. However, I know that it is an expensive hobby, one that my kids would not be able to pursue without me footing the bill. $4 for 20 pages is hideously expensive for a kid with no job or a minimum wage job. If you aren’t filling the pipeline of new customers, you have an industry in trouble.

    Point is, even the well-reviewed, well-written storylines are being cancelled because of limited sales. That sounds more like a marketing issue. The industry needs to change. Online membership models sound like a good idea, but that does leave the shops out in the cold. The trades are a better bargain in terms of dollar per content, but how do you survive long enough to be collected? What about those that are collected? More importantly, how do you advertise your product? If you are only advertising in the monthlies that people aren’t necessarily buying, how do you introduce new customers to your product?

    Looking at it another way, why are DC Superhero girls so popular (and profitable), while the original comics languish? Could it perhaps be the different approach to the market?

  45. The Beat jumping up and down and waving its pompoms again.

    As for the quality of Marvel’s books, one certainly has to wonder how a shrieking piece of shit like AMERICA ever got published.

  46. “No, your “thruths” (sic) are neither self evident nor true. They’re wrong.”

    The proof is in the pudding my friend – ie: sales. In all your commentary you just want to be the fly in ointment don’t you.

  47. What exactly is the definition of a “troll”? It seems to be a term that is thrown about quite often around here (especially against those who simply have a different opinion).

  48. I see a lot of long time Beat posters here, who I assume are not making YouTube videos in their spare time.

    So I’ll give you that you just want to see Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner and the rest back and harbor no ill will towards man, woman or non-binary creator or character.

    But, sadly, you’ve planted your flag on a very shaky hill.

    You see, you keep talking about how bad “diversity” is. You often couple it with “they replaced the heroes I like” but it comes back to diversity.

    Here is a selection of uses of variant of the term diversity here in these comments.

    ______
    “forced” diversity 
    agenda of diversification
    Marvel hamfistedly cramming identity politics into their superhero books 
    The problem with forced diversity was that it actually felt as if we were having it forced on us. Crammed down our throats, as it were.
    the biggest negative in the market when it comes to sales is Marvels attempt at diversity. 
    forced diversity coupled with the shelving of beloved classic characters is what broke the camel’s back.
    Perhaps, the reason why Legacy is failing is a combination of event fatigue (as you point out) ‘and’ the dreaded D(iversity). Oh, and maybe because it is just bad.
    _____

    What on earth is “forced” diversity? Forced on who? Forced by who?

    You see, the problem with this message is that diversity is inherently a good thing. Genetic diversity improves survival. Cultural diversity creates healthy growth. Diversity in ice cream flavors please more people. And so on and so on. “I like things that are always the same!” is not a great message for running a comic book company.

    I’m talking about diversity in the abstract here, NOT a principle that is a counter to America’s depressing history of slavery, oppression, and bigotry against the other, whether it was “No IRish or Italians need apply” signs a century ago, WWII internment camps, or Donald Trump not allowing black tenants to apply for his apartments in the 70s.

    So diversity is good. Let’s use a different word here, something that all people love. Pancakes. For those who are gluten intolerant protein pancakes are just as good, so let’s assume that pancakes are a great and wonderful things….because they are.

    “forced” pancakes 
    agenda of pancakes
    Marvel hamfistedly cramming pancakes into their superhero books 
    The problem with pancakes was that it actually felt as if we were having it forced on us. Crammed down our throats, as it were.
    the biggest negative in the market when it comes to sales is Marvels attempt at pancakes. 
    pancakes coupled with the shelving of beloved classic characters is what broke the camel’s back.
    Perhaps, the reason why Legacy is failing is a combination of event fatigue (as you point out) ‘and’ the dreaded pancakes. Oh, and maybe because it is just bad.

    You see…you are fighting an uphill battle here. Pancakes are good. Diversity is good. No one was really cramming anything down your throat. You could simply chose not to buy things you didn’t like.

    This whole movement was either started by someone who was a) not very good at spin or b) someone who doesn’t like diversity of any kind, forced, asked for, long awaited. Because it would have been so easy to go up against something people DON’T like instead of picking a good thing. Like, say, high fructose corn syrup.

    “HFCS coupled with the shelving of beloved sweeteners is what broke the camel’s back.”

    You would have just said, “I love Steve Rogers! When is he coming back!!!!!??????? I’m not going to buy this book until Steve Rogers is back!”

    But you didn’t.

    You stuck with arguing against “forced diversity” which, frankly, sounds like “forced integration” or “immigration policy” or other progressive goals which have objectively made America stronger, despite what the MAGA crowd believes.

    I guess what I’m saying is, you picked the wrong hill to die on if you don’t want to look like a white man who just doesn’t like reading about characters who aren’t also white men.

  49. Well put, Heidi.

    These guys would have heart attacks if they went back to the ’60s and saw the many girl-friendly comics that Marvel and DC published then. Stan Lee and his counterparts at other companies would be appalled by the notion that comics were supposed to be for and about white males, and white males only.

    https://www.comics.org/issue/97647/cover/4/

  50. Writers that I’ve discovered, and whose works I’ve read and want to go more through their backlist, due to online journalism and reviews include:

    Christopher Priest; Duane McDuffy; Reginald Hudlin; Alex De Campi; Carla Speed McNeil; G. Willow Wilson.

    These are the writers I solidly come back for, and seek out a backlist, based on my like for their work.

    There’s another category of white males whose work I find has been pre-eminent for me historically, and that is: Brian Wood’s Local and Demo; Rucka’s Queen and Country; Brubaker’s entire backlist. Might as well add Tom King. There are strong and exceptional female protagonists to be found here. But, still – another category. Diverse?

  51. “The proof is in the pudding my friend – ie: sales.”

    Sales are down across the entire industry, cupcake. Why is the Steve Rogers book selling poorly? Why are Superman and Hal Jordan selling like turds? Why is there a 40k gap between Batman and Detective? Derp derp, must be diversity derp!

  52. “You see, you keep talking about how bad “diversity” is. You often couple it with “they replaced the heroes I like” but it comes back to diversity.”

    Heidi:

    You just don’t seem to get what people are saying, and not just on The Beat. The issue of diversity absolutely was/is an editorial agenda at Marvel that has contributed to downward sales, so the focus of the comments (aside from problems with event fatigue, etc.) is on that. The issue is not diversity as a concept, but rather how it was handled. Claiming that “variant terms” are code for disgrunlted white men shows me you do not understand (or refuse to understand and acknowledge) peoples legitimate complaints. YES, this was/is an agenda – replacing AND removing the classic characters with a more diverse cast. We need to accept it as such and move on. While I cannot speak for anyone else, I personally have no problem with race, gender or sexual orientation diversity in comics, but the way it was handled by editorial was lazy and forced. Marvel could have created new characters in new books and left the classic ones alone. For example, I enjoy reading about Black Panther as he is – an African King and superhero. Not interested in reading about Black Panther as a reimagined Aborigine King in Australia. If Marvel want to put a new book like that – no problem. Likewise, not interrested in reading about Riri Williams as Iron Man. Give her a separate book while keeping Stark as IM and let the market decide.

    For those of you are are fine with Marvel as it is, that’s great. Hope you show your support by buying their books.

  53. “Sales are down across the entire industry, cupcake. Why is the Steve Rogers book selling poorly? Why are Superman and Hal Jordan selling like turds? Why is there a 40k gap between Batman and Detective? Derp derp, must be diversity derp!”

    Yes, all sales are down but Marvel sales are drastically down fro all the reasons stated. More importantly, where can I learn how to speak derp derp?

  54. Living Tribunal: They replaced characters you liked with characters you didn’t like.

    How is that problem “Diversity”?

    >>>Not interested in reading about Black Panther as a reimagined Aborigine King in Australia.

    What is Alan Moore wrote it?

    It’s the narrowmindedness of this argument that weakens it. And by using “forced diversity” as your enemy, you put yourself in an indefensible position.

    Be smarter.

  55. Heidi. “It’s the narrowmindedness of this argument that weakens it. And by using “forced diversity” as your enemy, you put yourself in an indefensible position.”

    Well, what more can I add without repaeting myself. I guess we agree to disagree.

  56. The reason a lot of these books do great on this list but horrible on the monthly periodical lists is obvious. The monthlies are bought by comic fans. The trades are also bought by Scholastic. It’s a bunch of leftist librarians, schoolteachers and administrators choosing what to buy for children. Of course diversity is going to succeed in THAT market: there’s nothing people like Heidi MacDonald enjoy more than brainwashing young children who don’t know any better. And using our tax dollars to do it makes it even sweeter.

    When the actual readers get to decide what they want, it’s a different story.

  57. tclist said: “The reason a lot of these books do great on this list but horrible on the monthly periodical lists is obvious.”

    Monthly periodicals starring your beloved white dudes are also selling horribly.

    And the rest of your comment reads like it was written by Sean Hannity.

  58. “The trades are also bought by Scholastic. It’s a bunch of leftist librarians, schoolteachers and administrators”

    So you hate people buying things you don’t want to read. Authoritarians gonna authoritarianate.

  59. “The reason a lot of these books do great on this list but horrible on the monthly periodical lists is obvious. The monthlies are bought by comic fans. The trades are also bought by Scholastic. It’s a bunch of leftist librarians, schoolteachers and administrators choosing what to buy for children.”

    Except BookScan doesn’t track sales by librarians or via Scholastic. They don’t have access to that data. The lists are based on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, etc. sales.

    Also note, the *comic shops* buy monthly periodicals. The comic fans buying pamphlets are technically a secondary market to DC and Marvel. ASM #25 sold something like 100K copies but I’m pretty sure there were a few stores who bought thousands of copies for the odd customer willing to spend $$$$ to get the 1:1000 variant driving up those numbers.

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