I really don’t understand why people keep trying to tell Marvel and DC how to do business. These are wholly owned subsidiaries of major multi-national entertainment conglomerates with a poor track record of rewarding the contributions of the individual.
Marvel is owned by Disney – a company that has set industry best practices for selling product to little girls. Does anyone honestly believe that if Disney wanted Marvel to sell more product to that demographic that they would be unable to do so? Or is it more likely that Marvel represents Disney’s inroad into a male demographic?
DC just went through a major branding exercise, which is usually an expensive, complex multi-year process. Is it remotely possible that demographic targeting, genre diversity and price point optimization were not considered during the planning stages? Or is it more likely that DC specifically targeted the demographics that it wanted to target?
Not all comic book companies can be all things to all people. And it is increasingly obvious that Marvel and DC do not want to be anything but superhero publishers selling superhero comics to superhero readers through the supply chain that they have spent two plus decades optimizing to do so. And yes, this limits the amount of money they bring in from demographics outside what they consider to be their core target – straight white males.
But it’s not as if Marvel and DC are the only game in town.
It would be refreshing to see an article that started with “Marvel and DC are not producing the kinds of comics that appeal to other demographics” that went on to say “but there are other publishers that do and you should be supporting them” instead of presenting a carefully thought out argument about how Marvel and DC should completely change their business practices.
Corey Blake , for example, wrote an entire article that basically boils down to “Marvel should start acting more like Fantagraphics” without actually mentioning Fantagraphics – presumably because he still thinks that there are only two comic book publishers in existence instead of more than thirty.
If half of the energy spent tilting at the Big Two windmills was spent pointing out that there is already a pretty diverse selection of comics available for purchase, I think there would probably be more comics readers. But that wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as bitching about the fact that homogenized corporate IP farms are not paying attention to other demographics, would it?
It’s easier to bemoan what could be than it is to celebrate what is because no real action is needed. “I tried to tell them what to do and they chose not to listen. What are you going to do?” Buy comics from someone else maybe?
A very common phrase that I have seen from some very smart people is “they’re leaving money on the table.” Presumably “they” are Marvel and DC, but “they” could very easily refer to anyone publishing comics that has not put together a comprehensive marketing campaign designed to combat the idea that comics is only superheroes aimed at straight white men.
Where most people see a problem on the part of Marvel and DC, I see opportunities for smaller, more agile publishers to sweep in and cater to these demographics who are clamoring for more diversity. After all, these comics already exist and I think it’s time to change the conversation.
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, the writers of Batwoman, just left the title after DC editorial refused to allow the character to marry her female fiance.