Marvel, Comics Retailers & The Diversity Myth

The harbinger in the disruption of economic systems in the 21st century appears to have fully revealed itself to changes in distribution systems with the proliferation of advanced consumer technology, especially in the retail sector. Consumers prefer to pay less money and/or do as little work as possible in acquiring product. As such, the distribution of wealth has shifted to services who can provide that for consumers. A job that would’ve been at a Barnes and Noble or Best Buy store is now going to Amazon, an opening for a business operations analyst at Olive Garden is now more likely to be a programmer for Seamless, someone that would’ve been a driver for a traditional taxi company is now a driver for Uber. Whether you think this is wrong or right, it is undoubtedly a central tenant of our reality and the price of doing business in a free market capitalist system. It’s also a bitter pill to swallow for anybody that at one time or another had benefited from said free market capitalist system when said system now appears to have turned it’s back on them through no fault of their own. It is even more disjarring for anybody who believed that “if you work hard, you’ll succeed” was a unequivocal truth of the systems they were operating in as opposed to the best possible outcome. A search for reason and questioning of self worth is a natural reaction to finding one’s self in said situation. Often times, an actor with an outsized role in that economy will in turn, have an outside role in that economies disintegration merely as a byproduct of doing business. Any company that exists to make a profit is ultimately abholdent to only that and as such, will do so at the detriment of it’s own industry simply as a matter of function. This is all pretty obvious for any objective observer but in these types of situations, no one is objective because everyone’s livelihood is at stake. If you want to look back further and find a central tenant of Western Civilization, it’s that often in these situations, participants will villify an “other” as the scapegoat for why the system has failed them. For example; here’s Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel explaining the publishers continuing slump in sales that seemed to have coalesced in their most recent publishing initiative from the fall of last year
“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.  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.  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”
Forget changes in purchasing habits for consumers across the broader economy as a whole, forget the archaic nature of the comics retailer market and forget about any of Marvel’s business practices; diversity or the “other” are killing the comics industry; not the inherent illogical of the direct market in 2017 or Marvel’s many exploitations of that.

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