Marvel’s declining sales blamed on diversity
David Gabriel, the vice president of sales at Marvel, has been criticised after blaming the decline of the studio’s comic book sales on the decision to include more diverse characters. Speaking at the Marvel retailer summit, Gabriel told ICv2 that talking with retailers has revealed that ‘people didn’t want any more diversity’ and that this has been reflected in sales figures.
He continued, ‘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.’
His remarks come after an effort by Marvel in recent years to feature more diverse characters in their comics. This includes a female Thor; Riri Williams, a black teenager who took over from fan favourite Iron Man, and Miles Morales, a biracial Spider Man.
Gabriel has since released a follow-up statement, clarifying his earlier comments. He said that some retailers and readers did lament the abandonment of traditional characters, but that Marvel ‘are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel universe.’
Gabriel’s comments have faced a backlash from fans online, with many claiming that the fall in sales figures can be attributed to the convoluted storylines and the complex web of interwoven universes, rather than the increased diversity of the characters. Anthony John Agnello, for instance, commented:
‘An idiotic conclusion, @Marvel. I stopped buying your books because of high price & event fatigue, not diversity.’
According to The Independent, the comic Ms Marvel, of which the eponymous character is a Pakistani American Muslim girl, was Marvel’s highest selling digital title and made regular appearances on the New York Times’ comics bestseller list. This seems to entirely repudiate Gabriel’s claims that diversity has led to a decline in interest.