Marvel Comics has experienced a slump in sales of late, and at least one Marvel executive believes that its the result of catering to social justice warriors instead of comic book fans.
David Gabriel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of sales and marketing told icv2.com that Marvel has been struggling to sell comics because, while feminists and progressive activists pushed for more diversity in comics, minority and female heroes, Marvel’s core fan base just weren’t interested.
“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity…that’s what we saw in sales,” Gabriel said. “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.”
Of course, the social justice warriors themselves weren’t happy with Gabriel’s statement, and forced him to clarify what he meant in a second interview. Gabriel noted, in his follow-up statement to icv2 that Marvel’s “diverse” characters weren’t going anywhere – but that comic book retailers were telling the company that the feminist and “diversity-focused” comics just weren’t selling.
Marvel has been seeing comic book sales slump for a while, Gabriel said, but things got really dire in the Fall of 2016. The timeline seems to coincide with Marvel’s decision to turn away from its fans, and experiment with addressing SJW concerns about the comic book industry.
Of course, SJWs are still adamant that they were in no way responsible for Marvel’s decline, citing everything from uninteresting storylines to the rising cost of comic books. And they’re partially right: consumers have superhero fatigue, and Marvel was plaguing its typical customers with constant reboots and crossovers (as well as some ridiculous storylines – Captain America a secret Nazi spy?).
But Gabriel wasn’t speaking from his own personal experience: he was telling icv2 what retailers were telling him – retailers for whom Marvel is only one of many different comics publishers. Tastes have changed, they said, and people want good comics – not just comics that have female and minority heroes for the sake of female and minority heroes.
That might be at the heart of Marvel’s failure: if you’re going to make a comic book with a female hero, it still has to have an appealing, exciting, engaging storyline – and more than few of Marvel’s attempts at female-led comics just didn’t.