Marvel VP Takes Back Comments After Saying 'Diversity' Is Hurting Sales
David Gabriel says comic retailers don't like the all new, all diverse Marvel.
Spider-man is half-black and half-Latino. Ms. Marvel is a Muslim American. Iron Man is black, and also no longer a man!
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But apparently, that love isn’t shared by all.
On the heels of the Marvel Retailer summit, Marvel’s vice-president of sales, David Gabriel, sat down with ICv2 to talk about what he’d learned from the meeting.
“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” Gabriel said.
No more diversity? No more Riri?
“They didn’t want female characters out there,” he said.
The retailers hate Riri! (And women in general?)
“That’s what we heard, believe it or not.” We don’t want to believe it … but if you say it’s true, David, well, we know you’re a man of your word.
“I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. We saw 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,” Gabriel added.
So it’s not just the retailers? The readers don’t like people of color being superheroes? Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel; Photo: Marvel
To get some sense as to whether or not that was the case, Comic Book Resources did a data dive, looking at Marvel’s sales numbers.
The data suggest that diversity isn’t really an issue at all, finding that the female-led The Mighty Thor is Marvel’s second best selling book, and that Black Panther, Riri William’s The Invincible Iron Man, and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man all were in the top 10 best sellers in February 2017. Comic Book Resources’ study concluded that it’s not that the diverse titles aren’t doing well, it’s that the white male led books are doing badly.
Which perhaps helps to explain why Gabriel walked back his initial statement. He sent a statement to ICv2, saying that his comments were simply meant to reflect "that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes." Gabriel also promised, "Our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences."
That's good news. Still, it’s distressing to hear people, be they Marvel executives or store owners or comic readers, blame women and people of color for Marvel’s troubles. Here’s hoping that Riri and Miles and Ms. Marvel and all the rest see ever stronger sales, and that we’ll be seeing them on shelves for decades to come.
Miles Morales as Spider-Man; Photo: Marvel