Female and racially diverse characters have been causing the sales slump for Marvel Comics, an executive at the company claimed.
Over the last few years, Marvel has introduced greater racial and gender diversity to expand their audience. Back in 2013, Muslim teenager Kamala Khan became Ms. Marvel. In the following years, comic fans saw an African-American Captain America, a female Thor and an Asian-American Hulk.
However, according to Marvel Comics’ VP for sales David Gabriel, the comics have not been selling well over the recent years. In an interview with ICV2, Gabriel pointed out that “female characters” and “diversity” are not popular and fans “didn’t want female characters out there” to begin with.
“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” Gabriel was quoted as saying.
“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,” Gabriel explained.
The exec would later reach out to ICV2 again to clarify his statement and add that many individual characters like Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, and Moon Girl have continued to be popular.
Meanwhile, comic book retailers are not buying Gabriel’s assessment. When asked by BleedingCool if it were indeed the fault of “female characters” and “diversity” that comic readers aren’t buying, many of them pointed the blame to the comic industry’s constant use of events.
“Well people like them [events] and they bring in new readers, but Civil War II needed to have a bigger payoff for the reader at the end. That’s why people left Marvel as far as I saw,” one retailer explained. “Vocal complainers about Marvel’s shift to diversity are mainly the folks who come to my shop to chat and not buy things.”
Another store owner pointed out that a new generation of comic readers are lining up to buy comics and are enjoying the diverse titles, noting that: “I think that the problem with Marvel today is the fatigue of events and I can see it in sales of events and how people just giving up on them altogether.”
Here’s yet another retailer who’s not particularly happy about the claim:
“I don’t agree that there’s a sales slump for comics in general — Marvel may be seeing a sales slump, and the ridiculous notion that it’s due to diversity is, as I’m sure you agree, absolutely ridiculous. It can be almost solely put down to two things within Marvel Comics;
“1. Endless f****** events. Pleasant Hill led to Civil War II leads to Secret Empire. Before Pleasant Hill, there was the monumental fuck up that was Secret Wars. People are sick to the teeth of events. They ALWAYS suffer heinous scheduling issues, the endings are ALWAYS disappointing, and they consume the shelves with tie-ins and divert previously good stories to fit in with the plot of the ridiculous events. Readers are completely sick of it.
“2. They spread themselves too thin in an attempt to flood the shelves, thus resulting in lackluster titles, and great titles finishing after incredibly short runs.
“For example, Mockingbird was absolutely terrific. I believe that wrapped up at around 12 issues. Kate Leth’s Hellcat is finishing with #16/#17. Lemire is leaving Moon Knight, so it wouldn’t surprise if that got canceled too, (and Lemire’s Moon Knight is, in my opinion, Marvel’s best book.) The recent Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider run has been canceled after 5 ISSUES. How can they expect anything to gain traction within 5 issues!? That’s not even enough time for a first arc to finish up! I’ll be amazed if the incredible America and the excellent Man-Thing last more than 12 issues.”
The store owner then pointed out: “They expect people to buy just ‘because it’s Marvel.’ They’re not trying to sell a product anymore. They’re just making it, and expecting people to buy it, both retailers and customers/readers, without Marvel themselves putting even an iota of work in.”