Marvel exec backpedals on comments that diversity is to blame for comics slump

David Gabriel had previously stated, 'people didn’t want any more diversity, they didn't want female characters out there'

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Marvel might want to try and get a better scapegoat next time.

Over the weekend, the comics publisher hit headlines after its VP for sales, David Gabriel, seemed to suggest that its recent push for a more diverse squadron of heroes was responsible for the company's recent slump in sales. 

"What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity," he told ICv2 at the Marvel Retailer summit. “They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not."

"I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. 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."

However, Gabriel failed to provide any evidence of where exactly this claim was coming from, considering many of Marvel's top sellers are focused on its female and POC characters. 

As Comic Book Resources points out, The Mighty Thor (led by Jane Foster) remains Marvel's second-highest selling ongoing superhero series; with Black Panther, Invincible Iron Man (led by Riri Williams), Spider-Man (led by Mile Morales), Ms. Marvel, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl all making the bestsellers lists. 

There is, indeed, no concrete indication that Marvel's "diverse" titles are selling any more poorly that those fronted by white, male characters; with the issue lying more in how the company markets its titles, especially in the rising costs of issues, the exhaustive quality of its crossovers and events, the weak slate of new titles, and the idea to relaunch already successful titles. 

Gabriel has since reached out to ICv2 with a statement attempting to clarify his comments; reading, "discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters ‘not working,’ the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes."

"And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes. We have also been hearing from stores that welcome and champion our new characters and titles and want more!"

He continued. "They’ve invigorated their own customer base and helped them grow their stores because of it. So we’re getting both sides of the story and the only upcoming change we’re making is to ensure we don’t lose focus of our core heroes."

However, considering the popularity of these newer characters, it's disappointing to see Marvel seemingly express disinterest in helping these characters grow and become "iconic heroes" in their own stead.

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