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Wednesday, February 07, 2018 

Heidi MacDonald says diversity proven alive and well...without providing sales figures

Propagandist Heidi MacDonald of the Comics Beat site has engaged in hilarious distortions for the sake of unspecified diversity in reports on graphic novel sales, and, she points to Ta-Nehisi Coates as though he were a great example of a scribe too. What she does say, regarding sales results provided by ICV2 is that:
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.
Umm, why must WE sign up, but she not provide on her part, given that she must surely have a registration of her own for their crummy services? And if the figures are available, what if it turns out they only show up in the range of several thousand copies sold? Because that's what I once noticed seemed to be the figures available, and it doesn't please me one bit if GNs sell that low compared to other books selling in the millions range.

When she provides a list sans numbers featuring creators of different race, she also says:
And for those keeping score, the only new superhero book to chart is Ta-Nahesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s Black Panther.
And why must we consider Coates worth reading, after all the likely leftist politics he's shoved into BP's title? Besides, if the book as written by Coates didn't sell through the roof, why should we expect the GNs to do much better?
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.
Oh, I'll be fair and state that, if these aren't editorially mandated superhero books we're talking about, then sure, they could be. But she fails to acknowledge where the Big Two went wrong, and that's why her dopey piece fumbles. Including with the following note:
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.
Umm, I fit into the category of older audience, and I don't prefer the periodical format by this point, because at 3-4 dollars, they're expensive for so little inside, and paperbacks are honestly better. This distorts the reality of the Big Two's mandates, which led to massive crossovers along with the forced diversity she mentioned but failed to admit ruined the Big Two, much like the sales prices, and let's not forget the speculator market's bloating the sales to boot. In fact, that's why it's a terrible mistake to rely so much on DC/Marvel, because there could be a whole bundle of smaller publishers with adventure tales out there the same audiences might dig, and the retailers could do better to give them a try instead.

Some of the commenters responded with more wisdom than MacDonald offered up. For example, one guy asked:
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?
And after she cynically asked if he meant something like what a Supergirl tale offered in the Silver Age, he said:
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.
That's just it; she's just an establishment tool, plain and simple, who cares little about what consumers really wish for. Another said:
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.
Exactly. And lest we forget DC was just as guilty, and preceded Marvel by several years. Here's another:
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.
They have too many money losers they keep in publication just to inflate sales results. Even DC has quite a few of those. Some of the Vertigo titles sell so low, it can be reasonably argued they're not exactly popular products like MacDonald's bunch may want everyone to think. And then:
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.
A good point. Does manga count? This is supposed to be the USA market we're talking about, after all. If there is anything to complain about in manga, it's when "cultural differences" of the tasteless kind are stuffed in, namely hentai elements that can make a story repellent. This guy also said:
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.
Or the audience, for that matter. It's long been obvious people of different race aren't buying in millions. And then, there's this:
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.
And another said:
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.
Well, MacDonald was never one to look at the exact topics with sincerity. Here's another reply:
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.
He also added:
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.
So, how come MacDonald can't consider that? Answer: for the same reason she couldn't consider the direction DC took with Atom, Firestorm and Blue Beetle over a decade ago, post-Identity Crisis. Those replacements were also handled in a very forced manner, coming very quickly one after another (there was even a female Manhunter that turned up named Kate Spencer), and coming as they did after a sick book making light of misogyny is what really made it particularly tasteless and invalid. Even Monica Rambeau's acquisition of the Captain Marvel codename in 1983 was organic, coming as it was after Mar-Vell of the Kree passed away from natural causes. That's why Jim Starlin's Death of Captain Marvel GN from 1982 holds up so well, because it wasn't forced like more recent tales are.

MacDonald didn't take these arguments well, and lashed out with the following:
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:

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.
Since when didn't even I ever consider the crossovers a valid complaint? I do. Same with constant reboots. But that doesn't make the forced diversity she obviously backs till the bitter end any less valid an issue, and it goes without saying that most "pundits" like her didn't exactly voice disapproval of the events and reboots while they were being conducted, so her belated points fall flat. Note to Heidi: YOU don't like purists or good taste. That's why YOU didn't say anything concrete about it these past several years. And for being so defensive and apologist, that's why YOU got more counterarguments, such as:
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.
Let me also add that when gritty darkness is forced upon titles once known for being bright and optimistic, not to mention FUN, it also ruins the edge they once had. Just to show I'm well aware of what other mistakes were made that MacDonald clearly isn't. However, last time I looked, Marvel's not the only one doing it, as they're still sticking with the notion the Asian Atom and Latino Blue Beetle must remain as the wearers of the famous costumes, and Larry Hama's replacement of Snake Eyes in GI Joe with a girl in the costume could be considered questionable, even if it's not permanent. Another commentor brought up Monica Rambeau:
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.
I think BIG chances were missed by kicking Monica to the curb and shoving Carol Danvers into the Capt. Marvel role, but what really turns it all into asphalt is the SJW tactics forced upon Carol, along with any other character the snakes in charge of Marvel now will see fit for victimization and turning inside out.

If MacDonald won't back up the superhero audience she knows is not inherently "anti-diversity", then she should just not work in comicdom. She's not qualified to report on any of this stuff.

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Dude, she does not work in comicdom or at any job that I know of. The last position she held she was fired from and that was at Publisher's Weekly.

From what I've observed about her, Heidi, is part of what Diversity and Comics has labeled the "The Comic Book Industry "Deep State"."

She's a person who is not employed in the industry, or is employed sporadically, but inexplicably has a lot influence or connections in the industry.

Another point that was made on her blog, but not in that particular post, is that all her recent examples of comics selling to a wider audience, were just examples of comics being sold to white women--and it's important that creators and businesses DON'T look at that and say that's the only group of people who like comics.

The most reasonable explanation of Heidi's behavoir and the behavior of many SJWS is that they deliberately want to sabotage the industry. They want to destroy what they consider a male space; superhero comics.

Heidi simply wants the industry to be unwelcoming to straight men, the same way she thinks it was unwelcoming to women in the 1980s and 1990s. She wants the industry to be an exclusive little cocktail party,where only the RIGHT kind of people are invited as creators and readers.

When backed into a corner, Heidi will throw out accusations or racism and sexism.
This is a person that uses the terms "mansplaining", "alt-right" to discredit people and thought it was unfair that Peter David had to pay his taxes. Her judgement should be questionable, at best.

So why did you move to the desert again? It doesn't seem to have done your temperament any good.

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