After being praised for its promotion of diversity, a Marvel executive’s quotes this weekend has proven a PR headache for the company.
Last week Marvel’s senior VP of print, sales, and marketing, David Gabriel, created much online discussion after suggesting at the Marvel Retailers Summit that the company’s addition of racially diverse and female characters contributed to a comic sales decline. Gabriel told iCv2:
“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.”
He also cited more logical economic reasons and Marvel’s release of ‘too much product’ as another possible cause for the downturn 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. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”
Gabriel later reached out to the outlet to clarify his comments, saying the new characters are not going anywhere:
“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…
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. 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.”
Marvel has been making an attempt to bring more people of color and women into starring roles in their books in the past few years such as biracial teen Miles Morales as Spider-Man, Sam Wilson as Captain America, Jane Foster as Thor, Riri Williams as Ironheart, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, and more.
Sales of the comics have taken a sharp dip since October. Marvel has reportedly launched about a dozen different ‘events’ and ‘crossovers’ in their comics line-up in the past two years.