Help support TMP


"Marvel Exec' says diversity kills sales" Topic


29 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the Comics and Graphic Novels Plus Board



466 hits since 2 Apr 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 6:14 a.m. PST

link

Apparently the comic book fans aren't good with diversity.

a female Thor; Riri Williams, a black teenager who took over the Iron Man storyline as Ironheart; Miles Morales, a biracial Spider-Man and Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenage girl who is the current Ms Marvel.

Hmm… or maybe, for very good motives, you're just changing too much too quick to keep people buying your product? Because they bought the comics for years, or decades – and they didn't want their favourite character "rebooted" ?

And a female Thor ? Like there's a shortage of female Norse gods that could have been given a NEW title of their own, for example. It's kind of sexist to say "the only way women heroes will work is they they become IronMan, or Thor, or …".

KeithRK03 Apr 2017 7:00 a.m. PST

You know what always works when you make a mistake?

Write if off as a character flaw on the part of your customers.

That will increase sales.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 7:00 a.m. PST

Who buys the comic books?

Who goes to the movies?

It's all about market appeal.

But then I'm still pissed about Superman – "Truth, Justice and all that other stuff".

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 7:27 a.m. PST

"I tried it, it didn't work." I'm used to hearing that from teenagers. Maybe the problem wasn't the plan, maybe the problem is that you're lazy.

Personally, I think changing fundamental aspects of iconic character is dumb.

Personally, I think it would have been *way* cool to bring in new characters that come from other backgrounds and feature other kinds of people in the lead role.

Personally, I think just making an existing character a different color and saying that this is diverse shows absolutely blindness to the real nature of the problem you were trying to solve.

But, I don't buy comic books any more, so I'm not the target demographic.

I don't know how they're going to fix all this, but I hope they do.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 10:17 a.m. PST

Explain to me why it was a good idea to make Thor a woman, and then get back to me.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 12:32 p.m. PST

Radical redefinition of the character taking it in new and surprising directions ?

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

Also, see above for a reality check.

Why not have a new title for Freyja ? Warrior goddess, with powers of sorcery. Could be cool.

MiniatureWargaming dot com03 Apr 2017 3:16 p.m. PST

I'm with Andrew Walters on this. Simply swapping out old characters with new identities is lazy and a bit insulting. What they're saying is that they don't want to put the same time and treasure into developing new characters as they put in the old ones.

altfritz03 Apr 2017 3:39 p.m. PST

Damned crossovers and alt covers and gimics like that are the problem.

GypsyComet03 Apr 2017 6:38 p.m. PST

The Ms. Marvel thing was probably the best handled of them: everyone got a promotion. I was only really annoyed a year later, when she ended up tied into the Inhumans thing instead of actually being an heir to the Kree Super Soldier tradition.

The Spidermen thing is amusing, as I was making that joke running Champions years ago. It's Spring in New York, and a new batch of spidermen is appearing all over…

Marvel management is passing this off as a failure of the diversity experiment, when the reality is that they are having trouble writing their way out of a paper bag these days. The same problem was put on display back when Image launched 20-odd years ago: neat concepts that *could* run for years on good writing, but will not get it. The ideas are thus consigned to anywhere from six to 20 or so issues fueled by the raw concept, after which they fizzle.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 2:50 a.m. PST

Homework assignment :

Give a kid 25 cents and tell them to go buy a comic. And before you say "Hey, wait a minute …" Yes, that's exactly the problem.

At one time you were hard pressed to find a single superhero comic among the multitude of titles on sale in your average drug store, grocers or even supermarket. Today it's 99% superheroes only available in specialist comic outlets where 40-year olds spend 50 bucks or more every week to get their fix.

Marvel, DC and the others still like to pretend they sell their books to 10-year olds, but the reality is that the majority of their readership are 40-something geeks who grew up on anything from their dad's old Curt Swan Superman comics, to 90's Liefeldian psychopaths shooting each other in the face with bazookas. The majority are trying to recapture that nostalgia feeling they had as a kid, while the industry is trying to sell them a string of 400+ issue "mega-events".

Pick up a pre-2000 comic and chances are you get a nice a-z story between the covers or at least get a reasonable idea of what is going on. Pick up a random comic today and you're seeing the equivalent of a single scene from an ongoing soap opera. Stories are now spread over multiple issues, with more than average chances you caught the middle of yet another Crisis or Secret Wars type even, spread over nearly every title in the lineup. It's more like watching the same scene, backwards, dubbed in Korean.

I did mention that superheroes were only a small part of comics at one time, you had romance, westerns, classic stories, horror and every other possible genre imaginable. Superhero comics were diverse long before it was trumpeted in the media for all to see. You have to remember that comics are first and foremost a commercial product, but they did touch upon many issues. Sometimes very effectively, sometimes extremely poorly. X-men was about being "different" every reader who felt ostracized by others could identify with them. They talked about drugs, introduced minority superheroes and even Lois Lane became "black" for a day, (not really DC's high point …)

Long before they were carefully placed "Press releases" to generate maximum buzz on various social media, Marvel and DC introduced gay characters like Northstar. Female characters went from being girlfriends, to "useful assistants", to being part of the team to being leaders and the main movers and shakers on the team. During the bronze age dozens of characters of unusual religious, sexual, racial etc backgrounds were introduced, some were mere footnotes, others became relatively well-known.

Much of this was more or less organic, sure there was an editorial line and characters like Luke Cage existed only to cash in on a popular craze (Blaxploitation) or to secure rights to alternatives for popular characters (She-Hulk, Spider-Woman) but with some luck they would become popular titles.

And then came the 90's, the implosion of the comic book market and the near death of Marvel and DC. Comics became middle-age man-child marketing traps, designed to sell as many issues as possible to a select audience through specialist stores. If you want to keep your core audience insular, and highly resistant to change, there is no better method. Because DC and Marvel still pretend they sell comics to kids, they don't, most kids don't have the kind of allowance to buy a dozen 5-dollar comics every week to stay on top of current events. They loudly trumpet the inclusion of highly diverse characters but completely ignore that many of their audience grew up on 90's comics, meaning a majority wants nothing more than a constant stream of "Dark Knight' style hyper-macho male characters as the ultimate power fantasy. A minority are the golden and silver age nostalgics who worship at the altar of "retro" square-jawed "Truth-Justice and American Way" male characters. A tiny lunatic fringe of people who look for interesting, diverse characters. Comic books don't make a real effort to appeal to them because most are into manga and anime which caters to them far better than DC or Marvel ever could.

At its worst the fanboys behave like seven year olds in a "no girlz aloud" treehouse, all they want are their male power fantasies where women, no matter how powerful or capable only exist as eye candy with impossible proportions, at the very worst level we're in "You like women ? Are you gay ?" territory. They are very conservative, very fearful, very vocal and very loud on social media (CF Gamergate)

I don't see the comic books change much, but as the focus moves from comics to movies and if they want to appeal to larger audiences to keep ahead of exploding blockbuster costs, they will have to appeal to as many people as possible, including women. And this is where diversity has a better chance of working, as one day the current actors will hang up their hammers, shields and black catsuits for good there is another continuity comic book character ready for another actor to pick and the next Thor and Wolverine might well be women, the next Hulk will be Asian etc …

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 3:33 a.m. PST

"At its worst the fanboys behave like seven year olds in a "no girlz aloud" treehouse, all they want are their male power fantasies where women, no matter how powerful or capable only exist as eye candy with impossible proportions, at the very worst level we're in "You like women ? Are you gay ?" territory. They are very conservative, very fearful, very vocal and very loud on social media (CF Gamergate)"

I don't think this is the case at all. Elektra was and is one of Marvel's most popular characters. I think when female characters are well conceived and well written they can be hugely popular.

The X-men has a strong cast of female characters and most of them are popular.

"Pick up a pre-2000 comic and chances are you get a nice a-z story between the covers or at least get a reasonable idea of what is going on. Pick up a random comic today and you're seeing the equivalent of a single scene from an ongoing soap opera. Stories are now spread over multiple issues, with more than average chances you caught the middle of yet another Crisis or Secret Wars type even, spread over nearly every title in the lineup. It's more like watching the same scene, backwards, dubbed in Korean."

I stopped reading comics in 1999 and the comics were pretty much as you describe comics today from when I started reading them in 1986. Most of them had story arcs that went through multiple issues. Tie ins with multiple titles have been around since at least the early 80s.

This isn't a new thing.

"At one time you were hard pressed to find a single superhero comic among the multitude of titles on sale in your average drug store, grocers or even supermarket."

That time was nearly 60 years ago.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 4:09 a.m. PST

Redefining 'Comic' seems to be the 'in' thing…

Some folks probably remember Little Lulu, Scrooge
McDuck, Archie (and the gang) and others of the
COMIC genre….

XRaysVision04 Apr 2017 8:10 a.m. PST

I think is on target.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's. Comics were 10 cents. We would scour the neighborhood for discarded soda bottles for the nickel deposits to buy our comics in the neighborhood corner store. The comic rack was right next to the vacuum tube tester.

The failure in comics is that there is a profound loss of simplicity that appeals to a pre-teen imagination. The rejection isn't about "diversity", it's about rebooting characters that readers have come to appreciate and with whom they identify. I has nothing to do with diversity; it has everything to do with resistance to change.

While youth are more progressive and independent thinkers than ever, they are still human beings who enjoy retreating into familiar, comfortable surroundings.

Just my two cents.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

I don't think this is the case at all. Elektra was and is one of Marvel's most popular characters. I think when female characters are well conceived and well written they can be hugely popular.

The X-men has a strong cast of female characters and most of them are popular.

Most average readers enjoy female characters at whatever level they choose. I don't see any problem there.

The real problem is that comics seem to be trying to do two things, on the one hand they want to pander to a certain group of male readers who want their comics as they remember them when they were ten years old and still like to pretend they are ten years old. The other group they are trying to appeal to are the younger readers who grew up on a much more diverse fare and have already internalized diversity through cartoons, anime, manga, the smaller comic book publishers etc.

So the big two are trying to draw them in, but the system they set up heavily favours older male readers who have a very vocal minority who see any form of diversity as a threat because the precious little snowflakes are terrified out of their minds when Wolverine is replaced with a girl, which is the equivalent of the system robbing them of their vicarious hyper-masculinity and forcing them to embrace the icky stuff like actual competent female characters (and not just a hyper-sexualized male fantasy) LGTB characters etc.

They favour one group, would love to get the money from the other group, but constantly vacillate because they are always called out by one side or the other for not pandering enough to them …

Kill off your new generation of diverse characters and you lose new readers, too much emphasis on them and the man-children blow a gasket and go ballistic !

doug redshirt04 Apr 2017 10:44 a.m. PST

You brought back a lot of memories just now. I never thought of myself as a comic book guy. I just realized I didn't do super heroes was all. I read Archie, Scrooge McDuck, Little Lulu, Ripleys Believe or not, etc. I guess I was involved in comics after all, still hate super heroes and the stupid super hero movies out now.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Apr 2017 11:47 a.m. PST

Diversity and political correctness are fine. If you could force people to buy diverse and politically correct items.

But it doesn't matter how noble a female Thor is… if it doesn't sell you go bust. And I suspect that the majority of readers will vote with their feet.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 11:56 a.m. PST

My hat's off to Patrick R, who really nailed the core problems, in my shared view. And also Pictors Studio, for his apt comments and corrections.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 2:47 p.m. PST

"Black Panther and Ms. Marvel Nominated for Hugo Awards Days After Marvel VP Blamed Them for Sales Slump"

link

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 8:39 p.m. PST

Diversity isn't a goal, it's a result. To think otherwise it to try pulling the horse with the cart.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 9:51 p.m. PST

So why is Captain America now a Nazi?
Will they end that arc with Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower?
That was a despicable thing to do.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 1:44 a.m. PST

Explain to me why it was a good idea to make Thor a woman, and then get back to me.

Traditionally superheroes either were solo (Hulk), had a teenage sidekick (Batman/Robin) or came with a younger (Superman/Superboy) or a female alternative (Superman/Supergirl)

Over time characters acquired a "family" of related characters. Aside from the Titular Thor, there is Beta Ray Bill, Eric Masterson and the most recent addition to the stable being Jane Foster who is the aforementioned female Thor.

These days we have the Hulk, She-Hulk, Red Hulk, Red She-Hulk, Asian Hulk and a few more …

Simple explanation, she only exists to make more money.

The more complex explanation is that Marvel is trying to diversify all of their heroes by lumping several different people under the same name to broaden their appeal so they would make more money.

It's never been openly declared, but this offers a way for Marvel to completely recast current MCU characters with entirely new people because some day there will not be enough money in the universe to pay RDJ to play Iron Man one more time, so if you have a stable of comic book characters who can fill in for Iron Man, you simply pick one, find a suitable actor and move on and if that doesn't work we can still invoke the James Bond clause.


So why is Captain America now a Nazi?
Will they end that arc with Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower?
That was a despicable thing to do.

It's just another money grab, in the books one of the bad guys used cosmic powers to change history so that Steve Rogers became a true believer and joined Hydra willingly.

It's not different from when the government fired Rogers from the job of Captain America and put in a clearly psychotic, but highly patriotic Bleeped text in the role, or when he was murdered or put on ice for a while.

Permanent change is rare, especially in this day and age where regular major character retcons are almost mandatory fare. Take Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl. She became part of the comics after she was introduced on the TV series in 1967, until 1988 when she was shot and crippled by the Joker in the Killing Joke. She became the wheelchair-bound Oracle until 2011 when her paralysis was unmade and she was Batgirl once again. She was Oracle for longer than she was Batgirl and was seen as a great example of a well-written disabled character, but some editors still remembered that Babs used to be Batgirl and simply turned back the clock.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 7:49 a.m. PST

Diversity isn't a goal, it's a result. To think otherwise it to try pulling the horse with the cart.

Bingo!

You can't "do" diversity. The changes in these comics were simply change for the purpose of the change. That type of thing lacks depth and eventually fails.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 4:37 p.m. PST

Batgirl's gone all over the charts again lately -- she seems to have abandoned her classic togs in favor of mall-rat attire and seems at the same time to have become about 10 years younger and acquired a coterie of similarly de-aged heroines like Black Canary (who dates back to the 1940s but is now some sort of goth-punk quasi-adolescent like Barbara Gordon -- who once was a grownup and a Congresswoman!)

Comic book continuity has become hopelessly tangled, distorted, and unbelievable, no matter how many cosmic time-unravelling hoo-hah schemes and "events" the publishers inflict on its readership. The only thing that keeps some of the old tropes visible is marketing and copyright law -- DC and Marvel have to keep recycling some of the older (original) forms and images or they'll lose the trademarks or copyright protections. So we still see "retro" specials at regular intervals, non-continuity graphic novels, flashback stories, alternate universe stories, "imaginary" tales, and Bronze Age pictures of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and Robin, etc. sold on products. (Dick Giordano must have kicked out hundreds of illustrations purely for licensing and marketing, because I see his stuff EVERYWHERE, still.)

Money talks. (Or, according to Dylan, it swears.)

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2017 3:53 a.m. PST

1) People mistake comics for something like art or literature, they are a purely commercial product with the odd actual great work seeping through the cracks. Comics are a product and the purpose is to ship as many as possible, part of the strategy is to shake up the content every so often as to draw the attention of new readers.

Comic book characters are owned by companies who use them as they see fit. There is not the same attachment a creator would have with their characters (looking at you JK Rowling) and who would see it as a point to preserve the integrity of said characters. There is no such pressure with editors who come and go. CF the New 52 which happened mostly because "Jim Lee"

2) Piper909 is the perfect example of what I have talked above (don't worry, piper, this is in no way an attack on your opinion, because I partially agree, but there is a broader picture)

Piper essentially makes a possessive claim on comics content, "The way I like comics …" Perhaps the very first casualty of current comics is continuity, Superheroes have always had a "flexible" background, details could change, some of which made the character even more iconic. In modern comics it's not unusual for a new creative team to make major changes or even completely reboot the character (Donna Troy is a fine example, she practically had a new origin every single issue at some point)

A majority of people want their comics like they remember them, be it the Claremont/Byrne X-Men, Miller's Daredevil, Adam's Batman, Liefelds's Whatever it is he came up with …

And this causes a problem when people start to see character changes as a personal attack or part of some conspiracy to ruin comics as they personally like to see them. On the one hand change is a powerful force, stories like the Death of Gwen Stacy, the Dark Phoenix Saga, Man Kills God Loves, The Dark Knight, Watchmen all had a huge impact on how people saw comics, if people really resisted change we'd still be stuck in the Silver Age goofy Superman story mill.

Diversity is inevitable, some day Marvel and DC will run out of 40-something geeks, a new generation will take over that has been exposed to ten times the diversity the previous one has gone through in their day.

One can ask, but must you change characters for the sake of diversity ? (and this is where I agree with Piper) Personally I question the need to change the race/gender/sexuality of an established character for the sake of diversity (especially if it's mostly a disguised marketing exercise) I would much rather have such characters be their own superhero, (unless you have an amazing idea that really works) Which brings us to point 3)

3) Why launch a diversity character if you can ride an existing one ? Luke Cage may get some recognition today (he's in a TV show these days) but he never was the breakthrough character Marvel had hoped for. Have Falcon become Captain America or Riri pick up the Iron Man mantle is a way to use brand recognition to sell a new product. See also 1)

Personally I have a huge love-hate relationship with comics, they have great potential, but are at the mercy of anyone in the system, if you get a good creative team working on a title, you get stuff that will be referenced in decades to come. Get a bad team and you can only hope they won't last long because everything can go 180 when the next creative team comes along. I've seen many beloved characters utterly mangled because somebody thought they had the perfect idea to make them even better and I have recognized that often, other people seemed to agree with changes I could only consider as utterly stupid. Comics don't belong to me or my opinion of any given character or story, they are rarely the product of a single individual who oversees everything a-z and cares about continuity, established character and won't sell out because they only care about the dump truck full of money coming their way. I have given up the belief that there is a perfect orthodoxy for the entire comic book universe, that if everyone can agree on certain points we'll get a perfect universe, problem is that none of us can agree on a single point, let alone across an entire lineup …

I'm ok with diversity, new people, new ideas, new stories, some of which will become classics for a new generation of readers, let's not get upset about everything because in the end superheroes have always been meant for ten year old kids (actual biological age may vary)

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2017 9:36 a.m. PST

Excellent essay, Patrick R.

I have a concern that publishers, in their never-ending pursuit of higher sales and more money, threaten to kill their golden goose if they alienate their entire readership base at some time or another.

And I can't help believing that readers, having invested their dollars AND their energies into favorite titles or characters, do in fact "own" those things in a mystical, hippie-dippie way… it's not just the creators and the publishers who make comics possible, it's also the audience, sharing the experience and making it all possible. Similar to the way a song becomes public property after a certain point. And that's why fans of, say, the Beatles, might feel outraged and cheated if their beloved classic record starts turning up selling shoes, or is cheapened or altered in some other commercial sell-out way. Comic characters are sort of modern folk tales. Imagine if Heracles had been rebooted as many times as Superman -- our storehouse of Greek myths wouldn't make any sense at all, and people wouldn't care as much about them.

It's only natural for readers to expect some simple continuity, or you do indeed get chaos and pointlessness, which is a reader turn-off. And some of us can never have enough good stories about familiar characters, this doesn't have to mean "formulaic." Good writers should be able to bring fresh ideas to established characters and add to the body of work. But mostly, comics have bad or amateur writers who prefer to tear down what came before to suit their own ideas, which is usually a change for the worse. Publishers who encourage change for novelty's sake encourage this tendency.

There are more people in the USA than there were in the 1960s, but comic book sales, despite all the publicity of modern movies, toys, and marketing, are still only a small fraction of what they were in the Silver Age. Including graphic novel collections. That alone speaks volumes about the success of the modern industry's approach.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP09 Apr 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

Heracles *was* rebooted numerous times over the course of the construction of his myth. Who knows what tales were added, characters conflated, and locations, deeds, etc. moved around and changed to suit the teller's latest audience (and wealthy noble patron)? The myths we have today only seem cohesive because at some point they were written down by a handful of disparate people, and then "compiled" in the post-pagan era by scholars and purveyors of popular commercial "non-fiction" accounts (like Hamitlon and Bullfinch), who consulted numerous sources and then pretty much "smushed" everything together into a palatable whole. We may think that Heracles's story is conveniently set, but even today that story is still being changed to please the latest audiences, whether in film, TV, graphic novels, comic books, or whatever. All stories change with the telling; that's the nature of stories. A book or film may seem to "freeze" a story, but in reality all these do is set a particular expression of the story into a specific, fixed, and ""revisitable" form. The story itself, however, remains malleable and dynamic, merely waiting the touch of the next storyteller to reset it all again.

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2017 11:22 a.m. PST

Apparently the comic book fans aren't good with diversity.

This has nothing to do with diversity.

They are trying to push certain Social Justice Agendas and long time buyers have stop buying their comics.

I stop buying comic books over 20 years ago when Marvel started to change.

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

Give a kid 25 cents and tell them to go buy a comic. And before you say "Hey, wait a minute …" Yes, that's exactly the problem.

Hell I remember when comics cost $0.15 USD and watched as they increased in price until they got to round $3.0 USD and then started to get thinner.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.