This past weekend, Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel
spoke out at a retail summit stating a reason for slumping Marvel comic book sales is that people do not want diversity in their books.
“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.”
He later qualified his remarks in an interview with ICv2
stating that characters such as Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen
and Moon Girl
were in fact popular.
Ever since these remarks were made public, a large outcry of public debate has been sparked across the Internet about whether diversity has a place in comic books and what exactly is the cause for slumping Marvel comic book sales.
I won’t pretend to know why other people have quit reading Marvel titles or that I am an expert on the ins and outs of Marvel sales numbers. I will tell you why I, a Marvel reader since 9th grade, have seriously reduced the number of titles I read in the last year to almost nothing.
The first and probably biggest problem is price, and honestly I am not really sure how to fix that. I will say that I don’t really understand why digital comics cost the same amount as physical copies. I would never advocate getting rid of physical copies, but digital copies don’t have the expense of paper or printing so shouldn’t they cost less?
The second problem is gimmicks for the sake of gimmicks instead of a good story. At least once a year, maybe even more now, Marvel launches some type of major crossover event. These events are often good for grabbing national headlines but frequently don’t allow for good storytelling. This is because writers have to start laying the groundwork for the next crossover event before fleshing out the current one. Not to mention the writers never have time to flesh out good stories for the individual character because they have to tie them into whatever the next universe encompassing event is.
The other favorite thing Marvel likes to do is kill off characters or replace them with different people. I think this is where the diversity issue some people have comes into play. Personally, I like Marvel giving the spotlight to diverse characters. However, I do get a little irritated when Marvel changes well established characters by replacing them with a more diverse character. Exceptions do exist, but usually these moves read as gimmicks. If Marvel wants to be more diverse then why not thrust already established diverse characters into the spotlight. If Marvel wants to give more focus to a character like Sam Wilson, why not do it as the Falcon? Why do they need to turn the character into Captain America? Instead of turning Thor into a woman, why not just focus more on already established characters like Valkyrie or Angela? I know the answer, because changing well established characters grabs mass media headlines while just giving a character like Falcon or Valkyrie their own titles does not.
In the end, Marvel has become more focused on trying to grab major headlines instead of writing good stories, and that is why I think Marvel sales have slumped.