A troubling article was shared with me that just left my jaw on the floor. As Marvel cancels subpar comics due to their low sales, internet activists are in fourth gear trying to make excuses for their demise.
In a telling article from Screen Rant titled Comic Sales Figures Prove To Marvel: Diversity Isn’t the Problem, the author, Rose Moore, spends two pages trying to come to grips that force-fed diversity quotas do not take the place of original, well-written content.
This topic of diversity has been a hot-button issue over the last few years. Social Justice Warriors have tried to hijack multiple fandoms in order to both reshape it and to dismiss fans who do not tow the line. From trying to make characters suddenly gay to harassing creators out of the industry if they don’t believe in their doctrine.
SJW’s seem to be on a search and destroy mission against everything that invalidates their worldview.
Of course, we see fingers pointed at issues that in all honesty aren’t controversial to the average reader. I mean the first example used is the “white savior-ness of Iron Fist.” This stems from the fact that SJWs again wanted to reinvent a pre-existing character to their own desires. In this case, make Danny Rand an Asian American in the Netflix series. And when it became clear that they weren’t going got get their own way, Danny Rand now became a problem because he pushed the idea of “white savior” in their minds. It’s real rich since it’s been these same people who pushed their own form of “White Savior Syndrome” to basically tell minorities that we cannot make it without their handouts, but that’s for another time.
But even away from all of this, instead of focusing on the content, the article draws straight to an idea. That idea states that there is an underlining problem that makes it difficult or impossible for “diversity comics” to succeed. Maybe there is a culture of anti-diversity in the fandom? I doubt it completely, but let me continue.
Is Diversity Alone Marketable?
Do people actually care about recently canceled “diversity” books like America, Gwenpool, and Iceman? Did they go out and buy them?
Rose Moore believes there is demand. She states:
On the surface, it does often seem that the more ‘diverse’ titles in particular aren’t selling, and that’s what really matters to the publishers… but a little more time looking at the numbers and how they relate to the reading habits of the fandoms paints a very different picture.
Moore goes on to explain “diversity” readers wait to pick up the trade paperbacks. They don’t buy the single issues, and they read much of their stories digitally. The last one is pure conjecture as there is no data to support or denounce her claim. However, if we look at individual sales from December 2017 we see that Iceman #8 only sold 11, 847 issues, America #10 sold 7,971 and Gwenpool #23 only sold 13,931. Those are all pretty low. In fact, Batman Who Laughs #1 sold 12,922, but that’s for a second printing. It’s pretty obvious retailers weren’t buying these titles. And that means they weren’t selling them off their shelves either.
But Rose believes they sell well in trade paperback form. Unbelievable Gwenpool Vol. 4 Beyond Fourth Wall which collects issues 16-20 shipped only 1,537 units to retailers at a price point of $15.99. Iceman Vol. 1 Thawing Out sold 1,315 units. Both of those trades came out in December. America Vol. 1 Life & Times of America Chavez came out in October and only shipped 1,953 copies.
But wait, what about digital purchasers. Gwenpool is ranked 46,995 on Amazon, America is ranked 43,065, and surprisingly Iceman is ranked 10,589.
The numbers don’t lie. The vast majority of these types of comics fail at an outstanding rate. Marvel, like any publisher, needs to be able to turn a profit to keep the lights on period. They’re not in the business to just write charity work for the sake of shoring up numbers to better represent certain groups. That’s just the truth. At the very least Marvel did give these creators and titles a chance to sink or swim. And as we saw, they sank to the bottom.
Now is it true that brown people just don’t bring in audiences? No, if movies and other pieces of entertainment have proven that’s just simply not true. Just look at Denzel Washington films. Man on Fire, Training Day, 2 Guns. The list could go on. They all opened at #1 at the Box Office. You can even look at the upcoming Black Panther film. There are predictions it’s going to open to $120 million. If action films don’t do it for you can look at sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, or The Cosby Show. They are all good.
And that’s what really matters, the quality, just like with any other product. If the quality of the product is below a certain level you cannot expect people to shell out hard earned dollars just to read bad books. If you don’t’ believe me just take a look at Diversity & Comics video of Iceman. One of the canceled comics.
Any good writer knows you have to give someone that is relatable, or at least sort of liked for readers to want to relate to. Well, unless they’re the villain. But in Heart of Ice, Iceman’s problems isn’t that he’s gay. He’s just an insufferable human being. Why would you want to keep reading this? Just the way he acts and treats his own sweet parents makes you want to slap him around a bit.
The choir of social justice when they saw that their diversity hires were on the chopping block went straight to their favorite tactics. Claiming that cancellations were due to racism, not sales. In December, even Joe Quesada had to clear things on Twitters for those who felt that titles were being targeted for reasons beyond sales numbers.
If a comic finds an audience it will stick around regardless of the lead character or creator’s gender, ethnicity, sexual preference or identification. You can claim we’re tone deaf but we PUBLISHED those books but you guys ultimately decide what survives. https://t.co/Uvw9pNiaXL
— JoeQuesada (@JoeQuesada) December 21, 2017
Should Non-White People Be Scared of Comic Shops?
This brings me to the title of this article and the question. Are minorities scared of comic book shops?
Rose Moore believes they are:
“Comics are still often seen as a male pursuit, and bricks-and-mortar comic book shops are often intimidating places for minority geeks. Larger and more progressive stores are welcoming minorities with open arms, but geekdom is filled with stories of minorities being made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in a traditional comic book retailer.”
Thanks to both my field and the fact I grew up in a military family I’ve had the pleasure to live across this great nation. I’ve been to comic shops in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, and another dozen states. And I will say no matter what state I am in, no matter when, I’ve never felt anything but welcome in a comic book shop.
For years they’ve acted as a bunker against the cruelty of the world. Something that I know for a fact many others share. Even now as an adult in my thirties comic book shops are still my go to, so I may supply my love for comics and other fandoms.
So for the author to point her finger at comic book shops as the reason that fans that aren’t white may not want to buy comics, I call BS. Comic book shops all over are even more diverse than what you see walking down a busy street. And unlike certain publishers, it wasn’t due to pandering. It was because like any business they attracted their customers with quality products. Maybe if SJW’s can first focus on a quality product before trying to meet a quota, they might see success.
I want to hear from you all know. Is there a problem with comic book shops? Are they unwelcoming to new readers? Or is this just another excuse to try and explain away the normal reading habits of fans? Tell us in the comments below!