A retailer took to the Marvel Secret Retailer Group on Facebook to provide “feedback” to Marvel Comics that their Young Guns Next Generation of Elite Artist Free Insert is not working for their store.
My source leaked us a message posted to the group that indicated the free insert was not working because “every single artist is cisgender and male.”
The retailer, Jill Taplin the CEO and founder of Outsider Comics & Geek Boutique in Seattle, Washington, goes on to state that “By saying these Young Guns folks are “The Next Generation of Elite Artists,” it dispels and squashes the hope and determination of femme and queer artists ever joining an elite squad of artists at Marvel.” Taplin continues, “It reads closed off, final and not inclusive.”
Taplin then notes that they have stopped handing out the free inserts and tells Marvel Comics to “Please do better. Even if you don’t have femme and queer artists in your highest tier of artists, please understand that femme and queer people are also your customers, and leaflets like this make them feel excluded and turns them off from Marvel.”
My source indicates that this Facebook group is frequented by Marvel employees and that Marvel’s David Gabriel responded to Taplin’s post with a fairly corporate response that Marvel would be looking into it. Gabriel is the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Marvel Publishing Worldwide. He has been working at Marvel since 2003.
Marvel’s Young Guns
Marvel’s Young Guns program was launched in 2004. Marvel describes the program as a spotlight for the “best up-and coming artists in the comic book industry.”
As reported by Newsarama, Marvel announced in June they would be offering retailers 25 complimentary copies of their 2019 Young Guns Sketchbooks with higher volume retailers potentially receiving more. These sketchbooks were expected to be delivered to retailers to be distributed on July 10th.
The sketchbook was originally announced to feature the artwork of the “next generation of Marvel artists.” However, Marvel would clarify that the sketchbook will feature artwork from its 2018 Young Guns line-up.
That line-up includes Marco Checcetto, Russell Dauterman, Mike Del Mundo, Javier Garron, Aaron Kuder, and Pepe Larraz.
Russell Dauterman is a gay man. In an interview from 2014, Dauterman discussed his work on Thor with 13th Dimension, but also delved a little bit into his personal life. He told them his husband is “an engineer. He’s on the nerd spectrum but not really comics nerddom.”
That fact appears to have eluded Jill Taplin. And that fact makes her entire complaint about the Young Guns Sketchbook not featuring “femme and queer artists” a complete and utter lie.
Not only is Taplin’s complaint about the Sketchbook a lie, but it appears it contradicts her recent statements about how she actually runs her shop. In an interview with Geek Wire, Taplin notes she focuses on customer data in order to “identify well-loved items and keep them in stock.”
Taplin revealed just how she manages her shop.
“We focus on customer experience in the shop, and using data from their purchases and questions to drive decision making for Outsider.”
Taplin would go into detail about this indicating it is the one piece of technology she couldn’t live without.
“As we try to create a fun and exciting shop for diverse customers, we rely on data to identify well-loved items and keep them in stock. Our combined point of sale and inventory system, though typical of retail shops, is unusual for comics. Many comic shops have separate sales and inventory systems, often because the sole comic distributor provides a sales system that allows for catalog reference and subscription customers. Both our product selection and vendors are diverse like our customers and expand beyond comics, so integrating sales and inventory was a necessity, and so we manage subscriptions by ourselves. Having the combined system makes getting the data that helps serve our intentionally diverse customer base much easier.”
It doesn’t appear she will be able to collect any customer data on the Young Guns Sketchbook if she refuses to hand it out to her customers. How in the world would she even know it’s not working in her shop without this customer data?