Right now, the Vice President of Sales at Marvel Comics is looking more villainous than Thanos. The name David Gabriel may not sound familiar or threatening, but comic book fans are equating him to being as evil as Galactus, the Eater-Of-Worlds.
David Gabriel is the Vice President of Sales at Marvel Comics, and during a recent interview blamed diversity as the cause of slumping sales for the House Of Ideas. Gabriel stated specifically:
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.
Fans have found it odd that Gabriel solely blamed readership for the alleged lack of response to diversity, and didn't assign any fault to those in-house. That's like saying: "I stuck out because a fan bought a cheeseburger instead of a hot dog." Gabriel's logic appears to be flawed and fans have rallied on social media to call him out:
The main criticism fans are expressing is that diversity isn't the problem, the problem is that most of the comics written by Marvel are by straight, white men who are mangling true diversity.
Is Diversity To Blame?
Comic Book Resources crunched the numbers and it turns out that sales have fallen since the end of Marvel's Secret Wars event, which launched the All-New, All-Different Marvel Now books. Although the All-New, All-Different books started out strong in sales, things quickly went downhill.
The problem: All-New, All-Different wasn't all that new or different, with at least 24 series continuing with the same creative team, or at least the same writer, after Secret Wars. In almost every single case, those continuing series saw dramatic sales drops after their initial start.
In order to put things in perspective, consider this: The 24 series sold an average of 38,521 single issues through the direct market prior to Secret Wars. However, the most recent issue of these same 24 series is only selling 22,972 copies — that's a 40 percent drop.
Another problem that fans faced was the fact that between October 2015 and February 2017, Marvel launched or relaunched at least 104 ongoing superhero series, for an average of about six new titles a month. That's a crazy number of titles to flood the market with, and it most likely ended up drowning readers. Roughly a quarter of the titles were canceled, hitting 10 or fewer issues.
It should be noted that The Mighty Thor, starring Jane Foster as the Goddess of Thunder, is Marvel’s second-highest selling superhero title, Likewise, Invincible Iron Man, which stars a black teenage girl, ranks among Marvel’s top 10 bestsellers. Is diversity to blame, or could it be Marvel's wayward way of doing business?
Moonwalking David Gabriel
Marvel's PR department had to be in overdrive after the statements made by David Gabriel hit the net as almost every article that came out (even one in The New York Times) was critical of him, and Marvel Comics. David tried to do some damage control by clarifying his previous statement by saying:
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 would seem that David channeled Michael Jackson as he moonwalked his way back, recanting his previous statement. If you read the two statements made by David, it would seem as though they were said by two different people with opposing beliefs. This leaves true believers wondering what is Marvel's true position on diversity. Does Marvel believe that diversity is the cause of slumping sales, or are other factors to be considered?