Comic book diversity


  • Admin

    I was going to post this over in random links, but maybe it merits a conversation.

    http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/4/15169572/marvel-diversity-outrage-gabriel

    Do you think the turn to female and ethnic characters is what's hurting sales?

    I'm inclined to think it's the way it's written, not the gender or color of the skin. For example I hated the Clone Saga because Spider-Man wasn't Peter Parker (even though it was still a white dude who looked exactly like Peter) yet I loved Ultimate Spider-Man where Spidey is a black kid. The only way I can explain that is that one story was simply better than the other.

    Thoughts?


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel Nah. Comic sales have been on a slow but steady decline for ages, with occasional bumps as new media comes out. Personally, I'd suspect that it's the stagnation of stories in the medium that's more to blame - just as anecdata, I went from a major X-Men fan with multiple pulled subscriptions in the line to not a comic reader at all after getting fed up at yet another reset, and no one ever really changing or retiring for good. Now, there's been some movement on that front, but in the X-Men, it's actually been kinda terrible movement that I'm not a fan of, so I haven't been back.

    Entertaining and diverse aren't two competing or mutually exclusive concepts - mainstream superhero comics often fail at being consistently entertaining, whether they are diverse or not, and that's a bigger reason for the slump, I'd say.



  • I feel like Manga exploding in North America for the past 10 years has taken a bite out of Marvel's target audience. The library can't keep that stuff on the shelf, and we have kids doing interlibrary loans for it.


  • Pitcrew

    I'd argue some of the boosts in the past decade were related to female and diverse characters.

    But as @Arkandel said, lack of story interest and probably new concepts. Everything just feels old character new skin. It's not a new street level character, it's Spider-Man but a lady, or another ethnicity, or both. It's not a different rogue healing clawed wolverine, it's a female wolverine oh and the twist it's his clone.

    Come on, most economic and marketing basic classes agree a sacred cow keeps a company going (wolvetinr and iron man) .. But is still finite, new sacred cows will be needed for ultimate sustainability.



  • I'd add on here that it's not diversity, but presentation and expectation, in addition to the comment about stagnation above. Marvel has the problem of being 'in the view' of 'normies' via the Marvel movies, and . They recently saw Tony Stark as Iron Man in Civil War and will again in Spiderman: Homecoming (clever naming on that). Random Bob #7 on the street won't want to go back a few months of issues to see how Riri Williams became Ironman (or Ironheart, whatever).

    Comics are also getting harder and harder to follow nowadays, I feel like. Comic A references LImited Book H, comic crossover B requires you to know (and care) about all of these other characters (like X-Men vs. Inhumans, I could give two shits about the Inhumans personally, but for me to know X-Men I have to read it).


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Comic book diversity:

    Do you think the turn to female and ethnic characters is what's hurting sales?

    In a word, no. In more words, Of course not people will buy good comics regardless of the characters gender or race, hell I am pale white man and I bought Christopher Priest's run on Black Panther because it was good not because of the race of the character. I stopped buying the series during the Hudlin run because the book became not good.
    While I have no doubt Marvel sales are slumping but I think the most likely reason is one as old as business, the competition got tougher. I stopped buying new comics all together in 2011. I recently started back up because I heard good things about DC rebirth I enjoyed what i read so I started picking up some titles both DC and Marvel, I have kept buying DC not the Marvel ones, mainly for two reason DC has been more enjoyable and higher quality and two most DC titles are 2.99 most marvel titles are 3.99. I know it is only a dollar but lets say you buy 4 titles a week, (a fairly small number compared to most collectors I know , during my peak buying periods I was hitting about 20 a month and even right before I went cold turkey I was at about 12 a week) that dollar an issue becomes $16 or$20 depending on how many Wednesdays that month has. Over a year that dollar per title ass up to just over $200. Now since I can afford money for comics I am obviously not broke but still to get me to shell out extra money for a product, any product, you have to show me how it is better than the competition. Right now at least when it comes to comics Marvel is not. (Other forms of media especially movies it definitely is so while I do not read Marvel comics I will continue to attend their films.)



  • @Bobotron said in Comic book diversity:

    Comics are also getting harder and harder to follow nowadays, I feel like. Comic A references LImited Book H, comic crossover B requires you to know (and care) about all of these other characters (like X-Men vs. Inhumans, I could give two shits about the Inhumans personally, but for me to know X-Men I have to read it).

    This. This right here. In my short-lived comics collector phase (about five years total) I was getting tired of this game in the fucking nineteen-eighties! From what I gather observing from afar, between reboots and tie-ins and overarching "Secret Wars"-style plots and consolidations and and and and I just won't even bother sticking a toe into that pool any longer.

    Were I going to look at comics at all, I'd look at creator-owned limited runs or their ilk, not anything from Marvel or DC who've made such a total fucking mess of things I'm genuinely not interested in their fare any longer.

    Even if it is more "diverse".


  • Coder

    @WTFE said in Comic book diversity:

    @Bobotron said in Comic book diversity:

    Comics are also getting harder and harder to follow nowadays, I feel like. Comic A references LImited Book H, comic crossover B requires you to know (and care) about all of these other characters (like X-Men vs. Inhumans, I could give two shits about the Inhumans personally, but for me to know X-Men I have to read it).

    This. This right here. In my short-lived comics collector phase (about five years total) I was getting tired of this game in the fucking nineteen-eighties! From what I gather observing from afar, between reboots and tie-ins and overarching "Secret Wars"-style plots and consolidations and and and and I just won't even bother sticking a toe into that pool any longer.

    Were I going to look at comics at all, I'd look at creator-owned limited runs or their ilk, not anything from Marvel or DC who've made such a total fucking mess of things I'm genuinely not interested in their fare any longer.

    Even if it is more "diverse".

    The only comic I buy with any regularity is the Donald Duck pocket. This is because.

    1. They're the perfect length to read during a train trip or while you're in the bathroom.
    2. They have little to no continuity. It doesn't matter in which order you read the stories because with few exceptions they're independent of eachother so when I buy a new one, I never have to worry about the fact I didn't buy or read the 3 previous ones.

    I also find the Marvel/DC model to be the weirdest, because you can contrast with the Japanese comics where each comic only has one author, one continuity and little to no crossovers. That means that if someone is curious about One Piece, Bleach or Naturo, you can just direct them to issue #1 and they can go from there without worrying they'll miss anything. What they do instead is just recycle the character archetypes and tropes to such an extent that stock phrases are used to indicate which character is which archetype.

    I find this vastly more approachable then the 12 different authors are writing the same character in 6 different dimensions kind of nonsense DC/Marvel has going on.


  • Admin

    Diversity aside, I may or not be an outlier here because I like the same characters being exposed to new situations over time. I want Peter Parker to be Spider-Man, and it bugged me when - for prolonged periods of time - there was no comic book published by Marvel where he was. I was disgruntled when the 90s reboots took Hal Jordan out of the Green Lantern book; it was irrelevant to me what race or gender his successor was though.

    But then again it used to be we got a reboot maybe once a decade; usually longer than that. A reader could go over the story arc of Tim Drake becoming Robin in the eighties and stay twenty years with the character until there was a very good sense of continuity involved. In a sense it allowed a reader to bond with the characters. These days... well, it seems to be happening constantly, it's hard to keep up. Is the young Cyclops brought back from the past (along with the rest of the original X-Men) still the one in the current universe? Is it someone else? I don't know. I don't even care who has what name; it's irrelevant to me if Thor is a girl, as long as Thor - the character - is around and involved with the Avengers.

    The other thing that bugs me is how much comics are used as billboards for movies. I get it, that's where the big bucks are... but knowing there's a beef between Marvel and 20th Century Fox or whoever because the latter have the Fantastic Four rights, and that's the reason there's no FF comic being published which in turn affects the, well, IC part of the universe's continuity and takes loved characters like Reed and Sue Richards out for the duration annoys me. It's not a creative reason, they're not trying to tell a better story this way... it's just bullshit marketing politics.


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said in Comic book diversity:

    Do you think the turn to female and ethnic characters is what's hurting sales?

    I'm on the side of "too many damned storylines and conflicting continuities."

    Comic books were birthed from serials. Serials had one continuity. These days, the myriad of storylines makes every single fucking comic feel like "WHAT IF?" issues, Rick James and all.


  • Admin

    @Ganymede said in Comic book diversity:

    These days, the myriad of storylines makes every single fucking comic feel like "WHAT IF?" issues, Rick James and all.

    You know what's funny though? Unless you're paying attention to hype and writers attached there's no way to even know which "What If" is going to be relevant outside of its own arc's scope or affect anything else at all. They're not all created equal, and there's no way to determine that from a storyline.

    For example the X-Men being plucked out of the past... how many stories like have we read over the years? Alternate timeline characters, characters from the future, you name it. And yet Bendis writes this particular one, Marvel promotes it ahead of time, and then you know it's meant to be significant...this time. Otherwise plot threads with about the same kind of story in them become redundant the moment you stop reading the particular mini-series in which they appear.


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said in Comic book diversity:

    For example the X-Men being plucked out of the past... how many stories like have we read over the years? Alternate timeline characters, characters from the future, you name it. And yet Bendis writes this particular one, Marvel promotes it ahead of time, and then you know it's meant to be significant...this time. Otherwise plot threads with about the same kind of story in them become redundant the moment you stop reading the particular mini-series in which they appear.

    Dude, this only adds to my reasoning. I'm not going to stick around and see what happens if it isn't significant -- or compelling. And, frankly, I've read some storyline synopses, and they sound as if they came out of the head of the worst Hollywood hack.

    The industry has hammered itself into irrelevance. But I don't feel bad for it.


  • Pitcrew

    The only Marvel comics I have enjoyed in the past decade or so were the Ultimate Marvel line. Well -- some of them, at least. I ascribe that partly to the creative teams involved, but mostly to the fact that I could read them and enjoy them without needing to be aware of fifty-plus years of continuty or what's happening in 15 other monthly periodicals.

    And it's probably significant that, when Ultimate Spider-Man started to reach the point where I needed to know or care about its continuity, I started to lose interest.


  • Coder

    I read a tweet from the guy who invented Inbox Zero (Merlin Mann, btw) who quoted the bit about not being able to keep quality artists and writers because they're going to better paying jobs with more creator control.

    To which he says, "Well duh."

    Sales could be dropping because people are expecting more and Marvel is less capable of delivering, not because of diversity.

    Mind you, I hear rumor of a Squirrel Girl TV series. Oh yes.


  • Admin


  • Coder

    @Arkandel

    I'm surprised he thought he could get away with hiding essentially hate speech in front of a bunch of nerds.


  • Admin

    @Thenomain I just completely fail to see the point. Either people would miss it, so why put it there in the first place, or they'd see it in which case he'd get fired.

    Wtf?


  • Coder

    @Arkandel said in Comic book diversity:

    @Thenomain I just completely fail to see the point. Either people would miss it, so why put it there in the first place, or they'd see it in which case he'd get fired.

    Wtf?

    My point is that there was a near-zero chance that people wouldn't find it. And as for him getting fired, sometimes you do things based on your belief that doesn't resonate with the common social because you think they're right, and "doing the right thing" is something that we strive for, right?

    Obviously he was uncertain if it was the right thing to do, then it wasn't the right thing to do.

    Hell, it's not like messages weren't "hidden" in comic books before.

    Mark Millar Licks Goats

    Amirite?



  • @Arkandel said in Comic book diversity:

    Okay, so this is a bit uh, weird.

    http://www.polygon.com/comics/2017/4/11/15256972/x-men-gold-marvel

    Yikes. Bit of a tangent, one of the links on that page went to an old article about Captain America being a nazi. WTF? Did that get resolved in any way?


  • Admin

    @SG I'm not reading that, but I think it's about to be explained more fully.


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