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Saturday, April 01, 2017 

So now they admit diversity wasn't working

In an interview with ICV2 (via Blastr), one of Marvel's vice presidents for marketing, David Gabriel, admits, albeit in a begrudging way, that the audience wasn't looking for "diversity". At the same time, however, he also seems to be trying to scapegoat the consumers for not buying what they're supposedly selling:
[...]I don't know if those customers with the tastes that had been around for three years really supporting nearly anything that we would try, anything that we would attempt, any of the new characters we brought up, either they weren't shopping in that time period, or maybe like you said their tastes have changed.

There was definitely a sort of nose-turning at the things that we had been doing successfully for the past three years, no longer viable. We saw that, and that's what we had to react to. Yes, it's all of that.

Now the million-dollar question. Why did those tastes change?

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.
This sounds an awful lot like a swipe at the readership. What is he trying to do, suggest the audience is sexist and racist? I don't know. If that's what he's insinuating, that's very poor conduct. If it hadn't been for all the SJW-ism that was increasingly affecting the real Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, for example, I'd want to read the books where she's the star. The original series from the late 1970s, as well as the Black Panther series which ran concurrently, are far better than what Marvel turned out since the mid-2000s. Even the original Spider-Woman and Dazzler series from the late 70s-mid 80s were better written than what's come out under phonies like Brian Bendis. And I wish he'd quit claiming they had all sorts of fresh and exciting ideas in store. All they've really had these past few years was a shipload of leftist politics coupled with company wide crossovers like Civil War. Even minor characters like Moon Knight and Nova were affected by all this, and made the new inventory unreadable.

Later on, the interview was updated with the following:
[Note: Marvel’s David Gabriel reached out to correct the statement above: "Discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters “not working,” the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes. And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.

"We have also been hearing from stores that welcome and champion our new characters and titles and want more! They've invigorated their own customer base and helped them grow their stores because of it. So we're getting both sides of the story and the only upcoming change we're making is to ensure we don't lose focus of our core heroes."]
It sounds like his earlier comments didn't go over well with his superiors, so he backtracked, in a manner of speaking. But I'm sure he realizes the sales truly are dismal, and practically all the above titles are selling pathetically, most of them well below 50,000 copies in pamphlets. Series like the Muslim Ms. Marvel have long come to be recognized as the political propaganda they truly are, and whatever audience they hoped to appeal to with that isn't interested either.

But now, here's where things get interesting, as Gabriel talks about what did work, relatively speaking or not:
It was the old things coming back in that time period, three books in particular, Spider-Man Renew Your Vows, that had Spider-Man and Mary Jane married, that worked. The Venom book worked and the Thanos book worked. You can take what you want out of who might be enjoying those three books, but it is definitely a specific type of comic book reader, comic book collector that really liked those three series.
Now this is certainly telling. If the Spidey book worked, what that says is that Spider-fans wanted to send a message - they admire and care about Mary Jane Watson, along with the real Peter Parker, and don't approve of Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso and Dan Slott's bottom of the barrel drivel the Spidey franchise was reduced to. The flagship Spider-books have been selling dismally in the past decade, yet much as was the case with Green Lantern Hal Jordan in the mid-90s, they vehemently refuse to come off an utterly catastrophic path.
Do you think it could just be that you maybe hit a tipping point in terms of how much there was of a certain kind of book and that that's what was turning people off, as opposed to what they were?

That could be part of it, sure, definitely. We're open to anything and we're not turning away from any reasoning about that time period. But there was no indication that that was coming. There was no indication that the people who were buying those things didn't want more.

This is a guess. I think we weren't the only publishers to see that. I've been hearing from smaller publishers, from indie publishers, that they also could not get their books out. They could not get their number ones launched. Everybody was having this. Maybe the tipping point was that there was just too much out there and people turned away. Could be.
But no possible reasons given? One is the quality of writing. Another is the highly priced pamphlets at nearly 4 dollars, and that could soon be going higher. Again, I wonder why they won't abandon a format that should've been canned long ago and move instead to Original Graphic Novel format. Some European comics have done that over the years. Valerian & Laureline (the basis of a new movie this year), did so with its remaining 9 stories, and Natacha did too by the end of the 1980s. What is keeping any publisher from trying the same? You can't please everyone, and the repeated use of variant covers on many series is doubtless also costing too much money. Some of the books by smaller publishers have also been affected by SJW mentality, and that could've had an averse effect on them too as a result.
What we heard people tell us coming out of ComicsPRO was that Marvel was pointing to DC as a reason for market problems. You've talked a little bit of that with regard to returns being in the pipe and that being an issue. I guess the question is do you think that's a fair characterization of what you were saying? Or do you think that is only focusing on one part of it?

I think they only focus on one part of it. When I presented, what I presented was just taking the market share that Diamond put out, not that we devise for ourselves, and showed where the biggest hits to market share for DC was in terms of when units and dollars left the market or left DC based on when their returns were coming in. I said that was one of the reasons for the industry being down dollar-wise. [...]
As a matter of fact, DC has to shoulder some blame for leading to the diversity mishmash we saw Marvel shoving down readers' throats lately. They already did this back in the mid-2000s with a black Firestorm, an Asian Atom, a Latino Blue Beetle, and even a lady Manhunter. And what was reprehensible about how they brought it all about was their mistreatment of the white protagonists in Identity Crisis. Oh, and let's not forget that Muslim Green Lantern that Geoff Johns shoved in. One of the most contemptuous and blatant SJW ideas to litter DC over the past several years, and that character is still around too, religion still intact. Let's be clear: if the character were just Arabic without making a bad religion part and parcel of his background, that would've been fine, but Johns couldn't keep himself from bringing his reprehensible politics to the fore.

Since we're on the subject, Blastr also pointed to how Slott's reiterating the claim on CBR that they'll never restore the Spider-marriage. Okay, then don't expect anybody to buy a flagship Spider-book. Some of the commenters found his blather galling too, and in response to the question of why they'd go to such lengths to erase it, one said:
because comic writers who don't regularly interact with women, don't know how to write a relationship and marriage.
That could certainly be one valid reason. Another said:
So is there some particular reason they want to avoid him getting married? When I was reading Spider-Man it was during those years and honestly thought the comics were fine. Can anyone with more insight fill us in on why they apparently hated Peter & Mary Jane being married?
I figure it's because they dislike the concept of marriage at all. I remember how dismaying it was when Roger Stern, who had no problems with marrying Superman and Lois Lane, panned the Spider-marriage in a way that sounded as though he considered Mary Jane a real life person. A real shame. I chalk all these biases down to how corporatism decidedly ruined superhero universes, and there's all sorts of bellyachers out there who aren't reading the books regardless who have to shoulder blame too. Another said:
That's OK. Don't ever expect me to buy New Marvel again.... Or is it Re-hash marvel.... or is it pretend to care about diversity as a sales gimmick and let places like Blastr promote us for free marvel?
And another one:
It'd be nice if he actually gave a compelling reason instead of just sounding like someone throwing a tantrum and stomping his feet. Attitudes like this don't exactly inspire me to pick a comic back up.
So long as Slott's still at Marvel and DC, just like Joe Quesada and Dan DiDio, I have no intention of wasting time on their modern inventory either. At this point, Slott is as much a problem as they are, and even if the Spider-marriage is restored, there's always a chance the writing beyond that will still be repellent. Hence, the reason why people have been staying away from the flagship Spider-books as much as the "diverse" series they've been turning out.

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The entirety of that interview makes Marvel's claim of returning to their roots now that people are fed up with this SJW/'diversity' garbage look all the more hollow.

If it is, and they insist on sinking the ship, then I'll shed no tears.

This isn't a bad round-up, especially on the expected "how dare you question diversity!" Tweet backlash, among other things.

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/03/31/comics-folk-respond-to-marvel-folk-responding-to-retailers/

I'm sure the "the readership is racist/sexist" explanation will get some traction with the SJW-minded chin-pulling types, but really between the diversity issue, the trade price hikes, the nasty politics of the comic creators -- nearly all of them couldn't say a non-negative Tweet about our current President to save their lives -- the fact that "Deadpool kills the MU" is their biggest trade seller and much more, there's way too much rot there.

It's like a textbook example of how not to run a comic book company, isn't it?

As for "back to basics," okay, fine, Marvel but after you systematically alienated every non-SJW or leftist since 2006's Civil War and onward, who in their right mind would want to come back or why should they? Live by the political scolding, die by the political scolding.

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