If you've spent any time on the internet in the last few days, you may have heard about that interview where Marvel VP of sales, David Gabriel, blamed women and diversity for the slump in sales of Marvel comics. (If you haven't heard about this, read about it on Geeky Tyrant here: http://geektyrant.com/news/marvel-vp-blames-women-and-diversity-for-marvel-comics-slump-in-sales)
And of course the internet kind of lost their shit over this, and rightfully so. I've read several pieces about this and how fans are supportive of the diversity, and I agree. But Marvel comic sales are down. But why? Let me give you my perspective.
I'll start with Captain Marvel, because this is easily my favorite series right now. The series that Kelly Sue Deconnik wrote was great. She made the character fun and intriguing. I truly had FUN reading these! The recent stuff issues have been fun too. I love everything going on with Alpha Flight. But the Civil War II tie in felt like it dragged on. This version of Civil War did not pull me in like the original did. The original Civil War was because of a fundamental disagreement in a core belief. This was Carol Danvers and Iron Man not seeing eye to eye and everything getting blown out of proportion.
Since we're on Civil War II, let's expand a bit. There were so many tie in stories with this. It was brutal. This relates to an issue brought up in that Geek Tyrant article - comics are expensive. If you are able to get away with $4 per issue, you were at $30+ for Civil War II and easily that again for the tie ins. That starts to get tough. Not everyone can get away with that. I spend a decent amount on comics, but I still hold out on a lot of stuff and borrow it from the library because I do still have to buy food.
I mentioned this above, but I'll repeat, Civil War II did not pull me in. It was the big event of 2016, and I felt no emotional tie. I think that's a lot bigger problem with Marvel's sales than diversity.
Now let's talk about a few of the new characters who have taken off recently. Kamala Khan as Miss Marvel was a great introduction to the Marvel Universe. A young Muslim as a superhero? Bravo to Marvel for putting this out there. I read the first few volumes but just lost interest. As a 34-year old, I had some challenge caring too much about her high school problems. I'm not saying this should change. It's great that there is a comic that can appeal to younger or newer readers. I also just started to fade from caring too much about the overall story line.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl kind of falls into the same category for me. I read the first couple volumes and enjoyed those, but I just started to fade away from the story. I love that she's quirky, but again for me there was the age gap that made it harder to relate. I am also fully in support of Squirrel Girl being out there.
Another big introduction is Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor. I actually like her better than the original Thor. She has more personality, and the balance between being Jane Foster battling cancer and The Mighty Thor battling bad guys is amazing.
There are plenty of other examples in the Marvel universe (I didn't even get started on Gwenpool) of great female and diverse characters. Ultimately, why are their sales down? I'm sure Marvel has some better analytics on this, but maybe it's more the direction of some of the stories and the reliance on Civil War II. Maybe there are some "issues" with a lot of the core readers who spend a lot of money. But I find it hard to believe that good, entertaining stories are the reason sales are down.
So what do you think about this whole thing? Are comics really in a state that something like adding diversity can be hurting sales?