Can comics that don’t star white men sell?

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Well, HOLY CRAP. It’s all done broke loose now, hasn’t it. What the hell is going on? The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together. OR should that be: men and women, blacks and whites making COMICS together.

It seems like “The Diversity Issue” in comics has exploded all over the place. It can’t be silenced. It can’t be swept under the rug. More accurately, its ISP can’t be blocked. The intersquawk just won’t let these issue die. Is it just a few malcontents who won’t shut up?

Is it a reflection of the world we live in?

Or is it just that as we enter the Digital Age of comics (and everything else) infinite accessibility means that the broadening audience for comics needs them to step up and join the real world?

I prefer to see the recent tempests over the New DC’s gender balance and mixed-race Spider-Man as more of the latter. It isn’t just Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass. It isn’t just David Brothers. These issues get raised again and again and again because of a profound truth:

COMICS ARE FOR EVERYBODY.

As DC and Marvel struggle to hold on to their audience and grow a new one, they really can’t afford to alienate customers — they need every one. They’ve got the white, male super-hero reading crowd, but as Bob Wayne said the the State of the Industry panel at San Diego, “We need to build a bigger pie.” That pie is going to have ingredients in all shapes and sizes. And colors.

Comics already have diversified, outside the big two, certainly gender-wise. I’ve already pointed out how 2010′s top-selling graphic novels show a wider audience for comics. In the past 10 years we’ve seen new markets and new genres emerge, thanks to bookstores and Amazon but also smart, savvy comic shop owners who aren’t so stupid as to want to turn away new customer bases.

This is how it should be.

But there is a dark, potential corollary to this. Is it possible that there are some comics readers who are so threatened by the Other that they will stop buying material that reflects diversity? Sadly, that is probably true as hateful comments here and elsewhere show. Is this number big enough to offset gains in other areas?

In writing about Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man yesterday, I said “Despite some reports that books featuring non-white leads don’t sell in comics shops, we see this as a savvy move on Marvel’s part.” Here’s what I was talking about.

Last year, Rich Johnston wrote about how BRING THE THUNDER was Dynamites second-lowest-ordered book ever, and suggested that it might be because the book featured an African-American lead:

The second lowest ordered book of all time from Dynamite is coming out this week. Bring The Thunder #1, created and co-written by Alex Ross, written by Jai Nitz and illustrated by Wilson Tortosa.

[snip] Alex Ross creates a number of covers for the publisher and, while it’s fair to say that Ross may not be as prominent as he was in the days of Marvels and Kingdom Come, his covers always lift sales for books, and it’s arguable that the first issue of a new superhero comic created by the man should sell better than, well, Queen Sonja #37. Or Deepak Chopra’s Buddha #3. Or Pat Lee’s Widow Warriors #4.

So there is uncomfortable reality that this book does feature a lead African American character, and promoted as such. And that such reduced preorders may be as a result that some believe that such books automatically sell lower.


That’s all pretty anecdotal and suppositional and doesn’t really prove cause and effect. But it is worth considering.

Two years ago, there was a longer discussion of this, spinning out of comments by Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s executive editor:

I don’t know that it’s any one thing, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that it’s all part of the same phenomenon that makes it more difficult to sell series with female leads, or African-American leads, or leads of any other particular cultural bent. Because we’re an American company whose primary distribution is centered around America, the great majority of our existing audience seems to be white American males. So while within that demographic you’ll find people who are interested in a wide assortment of characters of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, whenever your leads are white American males, you’ve got a better chance of reaching more people overall.


At the time, Mark Waid commented:

Tom’s syntax following that is a little blunt…man, I wish it were wrong, but it’s not. Every comics publisher ever, including BOOM!, can tell you maddening tales of retailers who, even now, in the 21st century, are hesitant to order books with non-white, non-American leads because their community won’t support them. It’s absurd, it’s crazy-making, I don’t know what it’s going to take to change that other than time…but like it or not, it is an unfortunate truth of the time in which we live.


Waid puts the blame squarely on retailersmentions retail demand as the weak link, as does Johnston’s item: they are just skittish about ordering these books due to poor customer demand. (There have, of course, been successful comics with ethnic leads — Black Panther, Spider-Girl, Spawn.)

That brings us to this week’s kerfuffle, the Larry’s Comics Incident.

I’m not going to rehash all of this, but suffice to say that while discussing the new Ultimate Spider-Man, Larry Doherty, owner of Larry’s Comics in New England, tweeted two idiotic racist jokes which he soon deleted because people were outraged. I’m not going to post them here but you can read them here and here.

Doherty, who runs stores that are very supportive of a wide variety of material, has made a name as a “straight talking” loudmouth who revels in being offensive. But whereas previous salvos against women and gays could be laughed off more easily, Doherty learned, as did Michael Richards and Jimmy the Greek before him, that once you start making racist jokes, you get held up to a new degree of scorn and revulsion.

While he tried to laugh it off at first, Doherty got so much heat he had to apologize and has since shown a more subdued demeanor on Twitter. And a complicating matter: Larry is also the driving force behind #comicsmarket, a weekly Twitter conversation on marketing and — wait for it — expanding the audience for comics. Many people, publicly, and privately, complained that Doherty shouldn’t hold himself up as a representative for selling comics when he used the same channel for such tasteless jokes. Graphic Policy has a great rundown of the issues:

The greater issue is, it’s a black eye for the #comicmarket. As a whole the discussion has been positive, and a lot of great things have come out of it, but a few people can ruin something easily. The discussion at times, beyond this incident, has been combative, negative and participants are dismissed due to their status of not being retailers. Threats towards artists, writers and publishers that mimic George Bush’s “you’re with us or against us” pepper the discussion as if those tweeting are a La Costra Nerdstra.


And it’s a shame because #comicsmarket had some good conversations and observations, and we need that kind of dialog.

But there’s more. I was following the Tweet-storm closely over the last few days, and before he took a new tack, during his more defiant phase, Doherty tweeted something else that didn’t get as much attention:
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Static. You know, the African American superhero who had his own TV show for a while.

Friends, let us reason together.

Do you think there MIGHT POSSIBLY be a connection between this comic getting low pre-orders in a shop and the fact the shop is run by a man who would make tasteless racist jokes and then cluelessly defend them as good natured humor?

Just possibly?

What is cause and what is effect in the above talk about minority-lead comic selling less? How much is expectation?

At all the retailer events I attended at Comic-Con, it was a continuing refrain among shop owners — you have to sell and sell and sell and keep your customers happy. It is possible, I suppose, for the Wednesday-driven economy of the comic shop environment to thrive and grow on their existing audience. But that isn’t what DC’s recent moves are telling me they think is true. Given all the horrible bigoted comments that the Miles Morales character has received, I think it took some courage on Marvel’s part to make this move — and they should be commended — but I also don’t think they had anything to lose.

We’re moving forward, people. This is the new world. Nearly a year ago, Mark Millar told me “It’s desperation that makes innovation in any medium. Comics need to get desperate.”

DC and Marvel are trying to move outside their comfort zone. For some at these companies, that zone was really really comfortable, and they are now going to be very very uncomfortable — Dan DiDio’s comfort zone will long be haunted by Kyrax2. But the reality that is plain to see is that to survive, Wednesday is going to have to evolve.

That panel of Miles demasking was everywhere yesterday. And the more I saw it, the more I loved it. It’s iconic (I wish the dialog were a little more iconic but so be it.) It’s a beautiful drawing full of character that draws me in. It reminds me a little of Velazquez’s portrait of Juan de Pareja, which is surely too high praise as that painting is one of the greatest of all times, but they share that sense of humanity which informs the best art.

That panel makes me think of a better place for comics. And to survive, we all need to get to that better place. Together.

Comments

  1. Excellent piece, Heidi!

  2. Because we can’t accept a hero for the actions they take as opposed to the amount of melanin in their skin just shows what a stupid, stupid world we live in. Stupid, stupid world.

  3. The conversation about how utterly empty comic retailers claims about keeping customers happy being a driving force seem, when heard in the same arena where customers regularly claim that ordered books aren’t stocked, less prominent books never show up, and the majority of comic shops are just as hostile an environment for passing trade as they were twenty years ago, is a huge and I suspect very frustrating one, and I’m sure others will weigh in on it.

    But I had to comment to say that your final two paragraphs? It’s weird, but they perfectly described my response to that image.

    I actually think there are huge issues with DC and Marvel’s approach to promoting at the moment – you don’t create diversity by announcing that you’re going to promote diversity, you just create noise – and you can swap out the word “diversity” for “quality” there, if you like – but for some reason, all the burble and nonsense surrounding this story faded out for me, in light of that panel. The work, when it’s really good, shines through.

    And I quite like the dialogue. It gives you a sense of what the tone of the book, and the character, is going to be like, and it’s also subtextually cheeky, without being an actual obnoxious thumbed nose to detractors. That must be INFURIATING to them.

  4. I agree.
    Great piece, Heidi.

    I think this will really show something interesting about comic readership.

    Of course, the first issue will have outstanding sales because it’s a number one and it’s a news story. But where will the numbers be at issue 5 or 6?

  5. blacaucasian says:

    Thank you so much for writing that, Heidi. Well said and needing to be said.

  6. Personally, I’ve never understood the reputation of comics fandom being largely a white male thing. All of the comic shops I’ve ever frequented were filled with all kinds of people. Were there more white males than women? Some of the time. Were there more white males than non-white males? Occasionally, but not always. Granted, most of these places I’ve lived have been relatively diverse areas to begin with (NYC, PGH, Chicago suburb), so it’s not like I’m privy to the demographics in places that are more culturally segregated. But even when I go to cons and other comics events, all types of people show up. The only real comics fandom racism I’ve ever encountered has been online, first on the Newsarama boards in the mid 00s and now seemingly everywhere when any big announcement is made. And, c’mon, it’s not like diverse casts can’t sell — look at X-Men in the late 80s when Storm was the leader and the sales were huge (and like you said, Heidi — Spawn). I think the problem is that diverse casts can’t sell when the publishers don’t fully back the books and the retailers continue to perpetuate the myth of a white male fandom wanting to see reflections of themselves in the lead role (with publishers buying into the myth, too). Look, people can say that it’s harder to sell a non-white lead, but it’s also been historically hard to sell a Dr. Strange series, and I’ve never seen anyone say “Oh, Dr. Strange doesn’t sell well because he’s a 40 year old white American male.” If the concept clicks with readers and the publisher fully supports it, I’d be shocked if it didn’t sell.

  7. Actually, Nick Marino’s comment made me wonder…

    Most of my experience of comic readerships over the last twenty years have been fairly diverse, but my experience of comic retail ownership has been universally white male. And even in the chain that I used to work in (and now frequent as a customer), female members of staff in store management are pretty rare.

    That probably says more about this issue than a closer look at the readers.

  8. When I see the phrase “young white male audience”, I can’t help but think of the largest purchasers of rap music. Yes, white kids will buy stuff created for, by, and about a demographic that is not their own, and buy a lot of it.

    They’ve got the art covered–that panel of Miles taking his mask off is full of the good stuff. I’ll be buying the first edition based on that single panel. What will keep me buying them is solid writing around an engaging character with a heart and soul who struggles filling in that costume in his own way.

  9. JM, I think ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN (VOL.2)’s sales after six months will depend on how much readers enjoyed issues #1 and #2. I agree that issue #1 will be huge because of the desire to capitalize on the media controversy, but if readers like what they see in that issue, prospects for long-term survival are much better.

    It helps, though, to have Brian Michael Bendis staying on as the series’ writer. He’s obviously a big draw, so as long as he brings the same quality to the relaunched series, his fan following will most likely support this as well.

  10. I’ve had 3 people so far drop Ultimate Spider-Man after the Ultimate Fallout mini, not because the new Spider-Man is black/latino, but because he is not Peter Parker. We’ll see how many people pick up #1, but so far, I’ve had zero people add the title for their pull list. Bendis will keep the hardcore Bendis fans there, but I think the bigger problem is people of ALL races unwilling to try new characters.

    I’ll order anything anyone wants to buy. In the case of Bring the Thunder, I ordered the generic 2 shelf copies that I order of hundreds of other books. I didn’t sell either, so I dropped my order to zero. Nothing to do with race, everything to do with no one bought it.

    Making Peter Parker black would be a tough sell, but I think had they started the Ultimate Universe with him not being white, there probably wouldn’t have been too much of a problem for people, past the initial response, since the Ultimate books were pitched as something very different. Replacing Peter with a minority character is an even bigger gamble, as mentioned above, because he isn’t Peter Parker. If the book is going to fail, it’s because of this.

    Living in the Bay Area, I have a very diverse segment of comic fans of all races. Probably only 50% of our customers are white, with lots of mixed backgrounds. I’ll ask their opinions on the switch today and report back.

  11. Almost any step in the right direction, no matter how small, is generally a good thing, although I kind of wish there was a new strategy to diversity than simply making the legacy character black or female or whatever, because there’s always that lingering “he’s the black Spider-Man” or “he’s the black Spider-Man trying to live up to the white Spider-Man’s legacy.” (Not that the “make up a new character as popular as Spider-Man” course of actin is easy, of course)

    I think this would have been a huge thing if the FIRST Ultimate Spidey were black…they had a chance to make any of their icons a different ethnicity than white, and they went with Fury…and so he’s black in the movies now. Imagine if Tony Stark or Steve Rogers were black in Ultimates, and thus the new movies!

    That said, this IS a Bendis comic, and even if the Ultimate line is wilting away, and might not survive another five or ten years, having one of the biggest writers in the industry, a dude who will likely keep that book alive single-handed no matter how many readers drop it, writing a black Spidey is a pretty great thing, and shows some real commitment on Bendis’ and Marvel’s part (That is, Bendis could be writing ANYTHING for Marvel right now, including The Top-Ten Selling Marvel Characters Print Money Monthly, but he’s writing this.)

  12. Synsidar says:

    How much difference does it make what race the hero is if the stories he appears in don’t treat him as a complete person? Making him something other than a straight WASP might appeal to readers who want to identify with the hero, but it has practically no effect on hero vs. villain battles unless the writer goes out of his way to make the villain bigoted or prejudiced. Battling to stop a bomb from exploding, stopping a megalomaniac from taking over the world, preventing a flood from devastating a town, or breaking out of mind control has nothing to do with race. Megalomaniacs are equally insane; heroes are equally heroic.

    The hero’s minority status would receive the best treatments in real-life material that the comics stories routinely skimp on. Who can name a hero’s favorite actor, color, food, singer, or sports team? When stories start describing characters at that level of detail, then his minority status will be more significant. As things stand now, I don’t see any reason to reject a series because of the hero’s minority status; it has less impact on my enjoyment of a comic than the font the letterer uses does.

    BTW, the new co-lead in SAVAGE DRAGON is half-black, half-alien, but SAVAGE DRAGON’s sales are so low that the racial makeup probably will have no effect on sales.

    SRS

  13. Good storytelling can sell any book as long as the entire sales mechanism, from the creators, to the publishers, to the retailers get behind it and push.

  14. Synsidar says:

    (That is, Bendis could be writing ANYTHING for Marvel right now, including The Top-Ten Selling Marvel Characters Print Money Monthly, but he’s writing this.)

    His name is correlated with good sales of certain titles. SPIDER-WOMAN failed; sales of SCARLET have been lousy.

    SRS

  15. SCARLET is a creator-owned book; sadly sales re always lower on those.

  16. Batman’s favorite actor is Douglas Fairbanks, his favorite color is black, his favorite food are diagonally-cut sandwiches served on a silver tray by a sarcastic British man, he is his own favorite singer and his favorite sports team is the The Gotham Knights.

  17. Sure, like KICK-ASS or WANTED or WALKING DEAD, Heidi.

    -B

  18. Glenn Simpson says:

    I agree that sales-based reaction to the character’s ethnicity is going to get lost due to his simply not being Peter Parker. I know lots of people who theoretically would stop reading based on that alone.

  19. When I read about the lack of racial diversity in comic book heroes, I just equate it with the lack of racial diversity in network television, Hollywood movies and covers of People magazine.

    Yes, it is unfair, and the comic book characters do not represent (what I think of as) America’s true population ratio.

    The true test is to put racially diverse characters out there into the market, and test the waters. Find the readers. Maybe they will attract new readers! As we have seen over and over, the big comic companies will absolutely respond favorably to good sales.

    Like I’ve said before, comic book companies will publish any comic book that will sell.

    If enough people would buy comics about groups of single cell creatures all named Billy, you would see lots and lots of comic books about Single Celled Creatures Named Billy. It is all about sales. And profits.

  20. Rupert Giles says:

    As a long-time fan of both Spidey, Marvel and comics in general (and a typical white male in his late 30′s), I couldn’t care less about the color of the new Spider-man’s skin. And I think this move is a great idea that will lead to many entertaining stories.

    Similarly, I don’t care if the writer, artist, inker, or editor are black, white, Hispanic, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, or Christian. Frankly, I also don’t care if they have a vagina or a penis.

    The only question in my mind is, how good is the story and artwork?

  21. I think you, Heidi like the so-called creators in the industry are missing the point. Not everyone is hating on this because Miles Morales is biracial. Myself hate the idea because A) the industry is using a cheap ploy to sell books. B) This stunt shows out of touch creators are with the current market. C) Bendis may as well kick a blind African American while he’s down. Instead of spinning a new character with a new ongoing series, he’s burying Miles Morales in Peter’s shadow. No matter what the race of the people seeing this are, some like me see this as another insult to ethnic Americans. And proof the industry is creatively bankrupt. If Marvel truly wanted to appeal outside of its core base. Why not heavily promote Black Panther, a Luke Cage and Falcon ongoing thru book stores were the readership is more diverse, more viral marketing for ethnic Americans, etc. But, no that would require a brain on the publishers part and reliance on using decades old characters names to sell anything.

  22. Ha!

    Wait until everyone hears about Laurence Fishburne playing Perry White in the new Superman movie.

  23. NateInNY says:

    “Do you think there MIGHT POSSIBLY be a connection between this comic getting low pre-orders in a shop and the fact the shop is run by a man who would make tasteless racist jokes and then cluelessly defend them as good natured humor?”

    Unfortunately I’m afraid the answer might be…maybe not. Several comic shop owner friends of mine in NC, SC and GA have told me that Mr. Terrific and Static have very low pre orders. And they’ve been promoting the hell out of both. Voodoo on the other hand did fairly well in pre orders but I think that’s because of the cheescake and not for the more altruistic want of a female POC hero. The big two might be kicking the doors open, but the buyers still need to walk through. It’s going to take the support of ALL colors and genders to make this work.

    We might also consider that months and months of bashing DCs reboot and damning new titles staring POC with faint praise, saying things like “it’s about F’ing time” instead of “Hey everybody! Support this awesome book!” (words that I never see the activist bloggers saying..EVER) might also have a lot to do with low preorders. The comic “activists” can’t have it both ways. You can’t say “Boycott DC cause Lois and Clark aint married and we can see Catwomans bra strap” and then blame white anger when the books don’t sell. The comic bloggers have some responsibility in this regarding bad word of mouth and it’s time they owned up to their shortcomings.

    We can compare the art in Ultimate Spider-Man to van gogh or whoever all day long. But how about in between those comparisons we toss out the occasional “BUY THIS BOOK!”

  24. hikaru says:

    “Replacing Peter with a minority character is an even bigger gamble, as mentioned above, because he isn’t Peter Parker. If the book is going to fail, it’s because of this.”

    If this is true (which I agree is highly likely), it’s beyond absurd. For readers who won’t buy it because it’s not Peter Parker…there is nearly 50 years and a million scripts that have been done. If those particular readers don’t want a single version of a character while the other is still readily available, so be it. Others who do want something fresh and relevant (myself included) will fill those gaps.

    It has nothing to do with race though. I think Mr. Higgins right on. People hated Ben Reilly. REALLY hated Ben Reilly.

    But catering to a select few people who will never accept anything but the same over and over again is detrimental in every possible way.

  25. Matthew Southworth says:

    I watch a lot of history documentaries while I draw, and yesterday I saw a film that dealt with racism in Texas. Many older citizens of this small town excused the de facto segregation of the town by saying “it’s always been this way”.

    I’m not suggesting that comics readers are racists. But I do think there is so much resistance to something like this because it’s not how it’s always been. I think the aging audience of comics readers are worried, like Eisenhower-era parents frightened by all this long hair and loud music.

    I am DYING to see the big companies make big choices and big changes, and my fingers are crossed that Alan Moore’s wrong about the comics industry dying. If making Spider-Man a black kid pushes out some cranky 40-year old white guys (who can always just buy the regular Marvel Universe Spider-Man anyway), good! Fine, go spend your money somewhere else.

    I want to meet new people, new kids who never picked up a comic because they never had an interest. It’s not just a marketing move, it’s a positive change.

  26. Matthew Southworth says:

    And by the way–can you imagine being a kid who wants to play superheroes with his friends, and his friends say “I’m Batman!”, “I’m Superman!”, “I’m Wolverine!” and then he says “I’m Spider-Man”, and the other kids say, no, you can’t be Spider-Man, he’s not black.

    What are your choices then? Who do you get to be?

    That FUCKING SUCKS.

  27. Realitätsprüfung says:

    1. It’d be better if comics could sustain a more diverse lineup of **new** characters, rather than having to shuffle them into roles made popular with the white/male characters.

    Is that possible in the current marketplace? I dunno.

    2. Blaming retailers for what sells in their shops seems wrongheaded. I suspect there are no evil dragons to slay here. They’re business people. If more people come into shops demanding Static or Xombi or Birds of Prey, I’m sure 99% of the shop orderers would be happy to take their money. But the truth is that most readers want Batman, Spider-Man, Superman and so on.

    3. I doubt an African-American Spider-Man is going to have a significant impact in terms of “grabbing a larger audience”. And not just because of the distribution issues.

    But also because the reality is that America is 80% white. That’s the largest audience there is. And even for non-white males, most of them are going to comic shops for Spider-Man and Batman, the same way a white person would.

    And for a good reason: Most people don’t make their entertainment/purchase decisions based on race. So a “bigger audience”? Probably not interested. Which means this Spider-Man stunt will result in a Spider-Man comic that sells about what the other Spider-Man comics sell – because it will be the same people buying it.

  28. NadaMucho says:

    I really think it’s corollary, not causal, that comics with non-white leads sell don’t tend to sell well. Let’s look at what sells well to superhero fans: the superheroes that they grew up reading. They grew up reading the characters created by Stan/Jack/Steve at Marvel and the Big 7 over at DC. These characters are white. It’s not that characters that aren’t white are gonna have a hard time selling, it’s that any character that didn’t exist in the silver age is gonna have trouble selling. I honestly think if Johnny Storm had been a black guy in the 60s, or if John Stewart had been the silver age GL instead of Hal Jordan, our heroes would have enjoyed the same level of success.

  29. @Matt, there are plenty of choices. Black Panther, Falcon, Static, Icon, Bill Foster, John Stewart GL, and many more. If Heidi wasn’t a dumb-ass like the rest of the white creators in the industry. She’d post a counterpart article on how this is demeaning to ethnic Americans, by portraying that ethnic Americans can’t be superheroes without wearing some one else’s clothing. But given the racist header of her article. I doubt it will ever come.

  30. And somehow, Claremont’s X-Men, with it’s amazing multi-racial, multi-national cast, managed to become the best selling comic book on the planet.

    Too bad that was the high point for diversity in comics, and it was 20 years ago.

    How has this industry regressed so much?

  31. Matthew Southworth says:

    Mick, you don’t get the point, and to call Heidi a “dumb-ass” weakens your argument and indicates a lack of manners. Don’t forget that you’re a guest in this “dumb-ass”‘s house.

    The point is kids don’t say “I want to be Icon!” or “I want to be the Falcon!” any more than they say “I want to be Speedball!” or “I want to be Longshot!” because they don’t know these characters unless they (or more precisely these days, their parents) are comics readers. They know the movies and the cartoons and the merchandise.

    They might–MIGHT–say “I want to be John Stewart/GL”, but they are more likely to know Batman (white), Superman (white), Green Lantern (white), Thor (white), Captain America (white), Spider-Man (white–or maybe not!).

    Since we’re on the topic, the most visible African-American superhero is John Stewart. But come on!, he’s only one of thousands of other guys with the same power, the Green Lantern Corps.

  32. Matthew Southworth says:

    Also, Mick–

    The “racist header” of this article is a question, not an assertion. There is nothing racist about asking whether books starring minorities have lower sales figures than those starring white characters.

    Jesus. Would you say these things to Heidi’s face? Are you that rude? Or does the internet give you a false sense of superiority and courage?

  33. Dave Miller-lad says:

    Was 1975 REALLY that more tolerant? I remember buying Power Man and loving it. I read all 5 issues of Black Goliath and thought they were great. Ditto Black Panther. I think I would have read more Brother Voodoo if the distribution system would just get it to the freakin’ spinner racks.

    Or has the pie just gotten so small that there’s no cushion for these types of characters.

  34. @Matthew, you are too short-sided. Why are kids not familiar with Black Panther and the others? Simple, publishers, creators, and comic blog dunces chase and support marketing ploys and trends. They don’t give a damn about strongly pushing ethnic American characters. Bendis idea is just for Alan Moore shock and awe. Nothing more to it. The fact the predominately white industry is rallying around Bendis shows how fucked up beyond any and all recognition the industry is. Blaming retailers for the very problems started by the creators, bloggers, and publishers doesn’t help matters either…

    P.S. I don’t care if I’m dumb-ass’s house. Supporting undercutting marketing shows she is just as insensitive to the whole matter as the people she is throwing insults at.

  35. “…shows some real commitment on Bendis’ and Marvel’s part”

    But what real commitment is that? To what — racially diverse characters?

    Then, why is a white guy writing about a non-white person? Why isn’t someone familiar culturally writing this? Where’s the authenticity going to truly be for Miles?

    Does it matter? Yes, it does.

    As a non-white reader myself, I’m hard pressed to find characters I can identify with. Surely, you can say these characters are color blind, they’re symbols etc etc.

    Except the comics industry isn’t color blind itself — eg. Brevoort’s shameful comments; and this guy’s a senior exec?? — if it were, this entire article wouldn’t need to exist (a brilliant article, by the way).

    And I agree with Al, it’s not as if American entertainment/media as a whole is open to racial diversity. For a country that IS racial diverse, it’s appalling.

    At the same time, though, I don’t feel changing the ethnicity of Spider-Man will help that. Because now, he’ll be forever compared to Peter Parker, rather than standing on his own, being a true original character unto himself (like how Static is, over at DC). What about creating brand new from-scratch characters, Marvel?

    So here’s my question:

    Where are the black and non-white writers at Marvel right now?

    Is Marvel committed to them too?

  36. Rupert Giles says:

    I think Mick might be that awkward kid that Heidi turned down, when he asked her to go to the prom.

  37. It’s not always about skin color, it’s often primarily about whether the character is relatable. My interest in the new Ultimate Spider-Man will depend significantly on Bendis’ presentation of the character: If he’s Gangsta Spidey, I’m out; if he’s John Luther Jr., I’m in.

  38. “COMICS ARE FOR EVERYBODY.”

    We knew that all along. But headlines like “Can comics that don’t star white men sell?” amounts to the same kind of bearding that usually attribute to Dan Didio.

  39. @Matthew,

    Kids would only say “I want to be Speedball”, “I want to be Longshot”, because only white characters are being sold to them. That seems to be the default way of just about all American media and has been for a long time.

    And it’s NOT something to celebrate or be joyful about.

    Take it from me — growing up thru school, with only white characters as role models, with no role models who really understand what it’s like to be picked on for your skin color or what your community is like. That makes a HUGE difference, I can tell ya.

    Sure, Spider-Man etc are just names/images to kids. But that’s insulting to think kids are clueless about what’s going on around them. And then once they hit school, like it or not, they will be exposed to racial distinctions.

    It would be truly fantastic if Icon or Falcon or Static or Nico Minoru or Blue Beetle or White Tiger or any other non-white character — a) got the spotlight/marketing that Spider-Man always gets (like this news story) and b) were household names that kids leapt for.

    But they’re not. And that is sad.

  40. @Rupert, nah I turned her down. She thinks racism is funny and her breath smells.

    @Jon, There were African American creators at Marvel. Dwayne McDuffie (deceased), Christopher Priest (has nothing to do with the industry anymore I think), and Reginald Hudlin who I believe was quietly let go.

    Other than that, the industry is predominately white with African American creators who DO exist in the industry are lost in the shuffle.

  41. NadaMucho says:

    Jon:
    I’d rather have a good writer of any race tackle an ethnic character than have characters be assigned to creators by virtue of the talent’s skin color. You don’t need to have black skin to write black characters effectively. Look at The Wire. It is widely considered to be one of the best tv shows ever made and had a giant cast of primarily black characters. The writing team, headed by Jewish journalist David Simon and Irish cop Ed Burns, wrote the hell out of that series. I’ve yet to see any critique of the show that suggested they were unable to write effectively for black characters and actors.

    Alternatively, take a look at Justice League Unlimited. Dwayne McDuffie, a black man, wrote a ton of great episodes, almost all of which had starring roles for white characters like Superman and Batman.

    I think what you’re getting at is that writers often use their own backgrounds when crafting characters, so they are perhaps more likely to be able to effectively write characters that look like them. But talent and research can certainly allow any good writer to write any character.

  42. “Comics are for everybody”.

    They are — but not when it comes to Marvel, or DC, who only represent one racial and gender demographic, and believe that writers who are in that demographic can write for everyone else.

    And it’s incredibly offensive to say that if it’s a black character, he might be a gangsta or a John Luther Jr.

    That type of stereotyping and limitation in the way a character of a certain culture can be represented is why a writer of a specific culture is needed, because it would be authentic. They wouldn’t rely on such ignorance or media distortion.

  43. NateinNYC: We might also consider that months and months of bashing DCs reboot and damning new titles staring POC with faint praise, saying things like “it’s about F’ing time” instead of “Hey everybody! Support this awesome book!” (words that I never see the activist bloggers saying..EVER)

    You mean like this? All of you folks who have been crying about diversity in comics had better be all over this!

    Nate/John, I know you have been posting under a number of personas here and elsewhere, and sock puppetry combined with idiocy and lack of reading comprehension is a big sin in my book. So bye bye.

    Realitätsprüfung: But also because the reality is that America is 80% white.

    Nope. That is not reality. America is a little more than 72% white. According to this study it’s 36% minority.

    http://prbblog.org/index.php/2011/03/25/2010-census-us-race/

    EVEN WITH YOUR statistic, that means 1 in every 5 Americans is non white.

    To remain proportionate to the strength of a hybrid, 1 out of every 5 characters on tv, in the movies, and in comics should be Hispanic black or Asian. Or Fijian or Lakota or Ainu.

  44. @Mick,

    Thanks. But like you say, there “were” African American creators at Marvel. What about now? And also the Asian creators, Indian creators, Mexican creators, and more.

    @NadaMucho,

    I see your point. The Wire is one thing. But it’s not just about research and skill in that. It’s about knowing the authenticity of a character’s culture, by coming from that culture yourself. You might need to research some more — but cultural codes, body language, cultural ideas, etc, are already there.

    But unlike TV, American comics tends to be very badly stereotyped when it comes to other races. I mean, David Kim/Xombi and Nico Minoru (from Runaways) are the only Asian characters I know of who don’t do karate and are not submissive like ALL Asian characters must be, right??

    The Spidey announcement didn’t speak “Marvel is committed to racial diversity”. Because if Marvel were, that would extend to the ethnically diverse characters they already have (who, besides Black Panther, are not headlining solo books or getting any major press) all the way down to their creators.

    I don’t know if I’m getting my point across adequately or not. :{ Sorry. It’s a bit hot in the room I’m sat in.

  45. @ Matthew Southworth:

    “If making Spider-Man a black kid pushes out some cranky 40-year old white guys …”

    Maybe that’s what they object to — smartass/accusatory comments all because the idea of a black Spider-Man doesn’t sound interesting.

  46. The real question here is, Can comics that DO star white men sell? The answer is, rarely.

    So maybe it’s time to try something else. And maybe the people in the industry who are not open to that will, before long, find that their audience is no longer big enough to base a business on.

    Either way, it’s worth remembering that the slowly shrinking direct-market audience that Marvel and DC still have to rely on is not synonymous with the comics market.

    Comics will be fine, I’m sure. The question is if Marvel and DC and their audience will still be a significant part of that, a few years down the road.

  47. @Jon, Sadly those that are minority creators are shuffled off the board, ignored by the media, and practically stampeded over by prominently white creators, bloggers like Heidi, and editors and publishers.

    Being a white American, the first bit of encouragement I ever got was from Dwayne McDuffie. One of the best African American creators writing comics. I wish I had gotten to know the man better.

  48. NadaMucho says:

    Jon, the authenticity can be faked by a talented person. That’s basically what being talented in the arts lets you do.

  49. @Jon: Okay, I’ll bite. No malice intended here, but I’m puzzled how it’s “incredibly offensive” to say that if it’s a black character, he might be a gangsta or a John Luther Jr. I’m not suggesting these are the only possibilities, of course.

    As a middle-aged white guy, I’m telling you (in admittedly broad strokes) what sort of black character presentation would likely appeal to me and what sort would probably not. Are you saying:

    a) that it’s offensive to find the presentation of one sort of black character appealing and another type of presentation less appealing;

    b) that it’s offensive to suggest that any corporation might attempt to package a black character as a gangsta or a John Luther-type because they imagine it would make the character more appealing to a desired market; or

    c) something else entirely?

    I’m genuinely curious.

    If you’re saying a), preferences are simply a fact of life that creators and publishers have to deal with. Not all preferences amount to racism. To suggest that they do would definitely be offensive.

    If you’re saying b), do you think it impossible a corporation or writer might imagine a gangsta version of Spidey is marketable? Personally, I doubt Bendis is that clumsy. (And I’m not sure what, if anything, could be offensive about a comic character with the personality of Neil Cross’s John Luther (as played by Idris Elba). If you’re familiar with the Luther character, are you suggesting he’s inauthentic because he was written by a white guy?)

    If you’re saying c), by all means say on: I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

  50. What Marc just said. If there are people out there who won’t read a well written Spider-Man story just because the guy under the mask isn’t Peter Parker, tough shit, because this comic is obviously not written for them and no one owes them an apology for that.

    Personally – I like new things. I like new ideas. I like smart writing. Spider-man’s pathos is one of the best in comics – the endless stream of banter and quip keeping back the crushing guilt of having failed. If Bendis can find a way to match that I’ll be buying.

  51. Look, all races are welcomed into the arena of comics. I just don’t think that taking someone like spider-man and making him black is tha way to do that. Let the colored superheroes be their own, its like making Superman black, doesnt really make sense. I love Static, I think him being urban, young, brash and original is all part of his charm. I don’t even really care that he is black, I respect him for being his own character.

  52. Charles Knight says:

    ” Let the colored superheroes be their own, its like making Superman black, doesnt really make sense.”

    Pete Arballo – Was Ed Brubaker talking to you earlier on twitter?

    “Reminder to comic nerds today: Unless you’re 90 years old, using the word “colored” is generally frowned on.”

  53. Rupert Giles says:

    @Charles Knight, I took his use of the term “colored” to mean all people of color…not the derogatory use, aimed at african americans. But that’s just my opinion.

    Everyone is just so on edge in here lately…who would think The Beat would be such a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

    I guess I’m most disappointed by Mick, the self-appointed champion of comic creator minority rights. (I can’t stop imagining what Dwayne would say to you if he saw how disrespectful you were being to our host, while simultaneously singing his praises.)

  54. Brian J. says:

    Just a note on language: I’ve noticed a number of folks using the term “ethnic” to describe characters of color (specifically, characters who wouldn’t be identified as white).

    Regardless of the color of our skin – and despite how big box department stores classify hair care products – we are all “ethnic”.

    For example, my race is white and and my ethnicity is German-American. Thus, I’m ethnic. But because of the way privilege works in this country – and the way most Euro-Americans have been socialized to be “white” or just “American” – we usually only see people who aren’t white as “ethnic”.

    (Of course, ethnicity and race don’t always go hand in hand – but folks always confuse the two identities.)

    So what I guess I’m saying is that when we use the term “ethnic” to mean characters who aren’t white, we’re really just reinforcing the idea of white supremacy (ie, the idea that the “normal state of being” is white and everyone else is different) which fuels systemic racism in our country.

    Which makes life really effing hard for folks of color. So please be intentional about what you might be assuming with your choice of words.

  55. Torsten Adair says:

    So, if DC decided to launch a Milestone title next year as part of the DC Universe, using the Dakota City characters, written by talented people of various ethnicities, everyone would buy the first issue?

    Because that would include original characters built on familiar archetypes, characters of diverse backgrounds. Right?

    Or would it be ignored, just like Blue Beetle? (Who, by the way, has a unique origin unrelated to Ted Kord.)

    According to the American Community Survey, 45 Million Americans (15% of the total population) consider themselves to be “Hispanic or Latino”. 74% of Americans are estimated to be “White alone”, meaning there are 77 Million “others” in this country.

    I’m German-American, second generation. As a teen, I thought it was cool when Nightcrawler used a bit of German in X-Men. As a young fan of comics, it’s all about identification, which is why Marvel Comics were so successful… instead of sidekicks, the teens were the heroes. And they suffered the same alienation that most teens feel. Write that with authenticity, make the title appealing to kids and teens and adults, and it will sell. Maybe not to the “get off my lawn” curmudgeons who only want their nostalgic fix (just like us Gen-Xers who complain about MTV, not realizing that MTV is programmed for teens). But who cares? They’ll die off, and if there isn’t new blood enjoying comics, then comics become like the pulp heroes of the 1930s. (And maybe the new fans will be upbeat like the manga/anime fans… but I doubt it… superhero comics are all about angst and doubt and danger…it’s as if the anti-life equation is encoded into the Ben-Day dots…)

  56. Torsten, sometimes you are very wise.

  57. Mark Waid says:

    “Waid puts the blame squarely on retailers…”

    No. That’s a flawed reading of what I said. I wasn’t “blaming” anyone, I was simply stating a fact–that we’d heard from numerous retailers that their customer base wouldn’t support those books. They took no GLEE in that, as I recall, nor were they pleased at having to say it. And as retailers, it was their choice what to carry and for what reasons, and I understand that.

  58. Psst, Rupert – while there is all sorts of back-and-forth on what terms are appropriate, most of the people who think of such things these days prefer “people of color” (or “POC”) to “colored.” Seems a fine point, but trust me – folks appreciate it. :]

    All I know is, at the store I work at, there are plenty of black, Latino, and Asian customers – men and women. They’re outnumbered by white customers, yeah, but overall the racial makeup seems pretty much in line with the demographics of our area.

    And I, despite being about as white as your typical Emma Frost outfit, am looking forward to purchasing more comics starring minority characters and recommending the best of them to customers. Is it September yet? :]

  59. Michael P says:

    Given that one of the central characters of the comic I’m developing is a black woman, I bloody well hope so.

  60. Mark, sorry to misread your comments. Thanks for the clarification.

  61. @Rupert, tough. She opened the door wide open by making the most idiotic article in the history of comicdom. If she expects any respect, she shouldn’t be so damn insensitive. Dwayne may have distanced himself from, or he may have agreed with the thought, but not how it was phrased. Sadly, I never got to know him well enough. I do know one thing. It’s sickening so many in the industry are back patting themselves and are ignorant to the theme and symbolic meaning the concept brings.

  62. Black Spider-Man isn’t the problem with their approach even if the middle-aged Randroids think it is.

    Black Spider-Man is the problem.

    When folks talk about “building a bigger pie” or “diversity” they never mean, “We are we going to find out what women and minorities want to read and we are going to go about creating it for them!”

    Not just because it’s hard to come up with new ideas, or that it requires dedication, and that it may take a long time to pay off. It’s because the goal is conversion to the “religion” of superheroes.

    Comics cultures, such as the one centered on the direct market, are insanely Mormon-like in how they approach things. Everything they do is centered around bringing outsiders into the fold and keeping the faithful happy.

    A real industry would create products those outsiders may want, and then they would do everything they can to get it to them. A religion tries to convince them the product that has been offered forever is better than anything those outsiders could want.

    This is the approach of the direct market, and it hasn’t worked for a very long time now.

    So yeah, all of this is nothing but arguments over scripture interpretation. It’s noise.

  63. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    … Personally, I’m about 40x more likely to read the Miles Morales comic than any Peter Parker comic, because it looks like they might possibly do something new and interesting with him, I’m just not that into Peter (sorry, Spidey, you’re a good guy, just not my thing), and this will be Bendis doing what he does best – writing his own characters, creator-owned or not.

    I’d have sympathy for the Peter mourners were it not for the fact that he’s alive and well in 616. Ditko’s canon still lives!

    As to diversity, yeah, don’t expect the new and different to always immediately sell well to the preexisting audience. But that doesn’t make it less worthwhile or unlikely to pay off in the long run. People WILL buy stories about people of other races if you get the right audience and story, particularly once you get them used to it, as witness most manga over here and, frankly, the already existing non-white audience for comics. Very few people refuse to read Batman because he’s white.

  64. NadaMucho says:

    Torsten Adair
    08/03/2011 AT 5:44 PM
    “So, if DC decided to launch a Milestone title next year as part of the DC Universe, using the Dakota City characters, written by talented people of various ethnicities, everyone would buy the first issue?”

    I don’t think that would be an accurate gauge of fan interest in minority characters. First off, it’d involve merging the Milestone characters into the DCU, which DC already tried once (and it was made of fail, not to mention the times they tried it with the Red Circle characters, the Shazam characters, etc, where it had mixed-to-awful results). Not to mention that while Static is a cool character with a lot of appeal, some of the Milestone characters are not as enticing. I don’t know if i want to read about superpowered gang members. The minority heroes i like reading about (Firestorm, War Machine, Mr. Terrific, etc) are straight-up heroes.

    That being said, I really don’t give a shit if the talent behind them were to be multi-ethnic or not. If you’re a white guy who can write as well as Mark Waid or a black guy who can write as well as Dwayne McDuffie did, great. If you’re a white guy who churns out shit like Jimmy Palmiotti does or a black guy who churns out garbage like Reginald Hudlin did, fuck no.

  65. Synsidar says:

    I haven’t seen anyone mention SPIDER-MAN 2099.

    Spider-Man 2099

    The series reportedly sold very well, with Miguel O’Hara in the costume. The relevance to Miles Morales as Spider-Man is limited, but the series’ success indicates that there are people willing to accept alternates to Peter Parker.

    SRS

  66. Sphinx Magoo says:

    Thanks for the article, and thanks for the tipoff to BRING THE THUNDER. Since my LCS doesn’t order enough (if any) copies, I picked it up to read on my Dynamite Comics iApp. Ignore the store!

    Still awaiting DC’s iApp release of the Milestone comics…

  67. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Jon–your point about only white characters being marketed to kids is exactly what I was intending to point out. Dunno if you were writing a post in agreement–we do agree completely here, unless I’m misreading your reply–or in disagreement, in which case I may have phrased my point poorly.

    It is because of the visibility of Spider-Man that I think those African American kids will be aware of him, which may then induce them to look at other comics and become aware of Static, the Black Panther, etc.

  68. Matthew Southworth says:

    @Mick–whatever, dude. You’re so obnoxious I’m having a pretty hard time figuring out if you have a point other than “Heidi sucks”. I’d rather talk to reasonable people who hold different opinions than my own than waste time on some mean-spirited loudmouth.

    I think some people have made good points that disagree with my own, and that’s fine with me–I can fully understand someone thinking that “African-American Spider-Man” is a marketing ploy; I’ve thought about that, but I don’t really see it that way. It’s worth reading others’ comments on that topic to try to educate myself.

    But you’re just wasting my time, and I’ve got better things to do. Like read the new issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.

  69. “It’s all done broke loose now, hasn’t it.”

    …um, OK. What year is this?

  70. I love how people scream that the blacks should be kept out of Spider-Man’s suit and that creators should make up all new heroes.

    I love that shit, it is priceless!

    They really mean, take your stupid black people to some side comic so that it can be ignored. Because you could safely bet your LIFE that none of the people who say that would never EVER read a non-legacy minority character.

  71. NadaMucho says:

    Darrylayo, not everyone who is against Spidey becoming a legacy character is racist. I think we as comic fans know that some characters work as legacies (GL/Flash/Quasar/etc), while others seem to be more about the secret id than the costume and powers. I personally don’t think of Spidey as a legacy type character, but i’m still gonna give Ult Spidey with Miles Morales a chance. So don’t assume that a whole group of people want to sideline black people.

  72. @Synsidar – The hype of Spider-Man 2099 went away pretty quickly. Looking at Comichron.com (they don’t have earlier issues available, first I saw was #30 in Feb 1995), it was actually around where USM is in the sales charts now. The rest of the 2099 line was already dead.

    My informal poll of customers today (actual, weekly customers who make up the large majority of the money that comes into the store) found pretty much what I expected. Most people didn’t care one way or another about the title; in fact, I barely sold any copies of Ultimate Fallout #4, with only 1 “civilian” calling and coming in to pick up a copy. It was a bit busier than normal today, so I didn’t get to keep as accurate records as I wanted to, but of the 12 customers that bought the book, only three bought it because of the hype of the story (the previously mentioned civilian, a casual customer I see from time to time, and a regular customer who had no interest in the story, but felt he should read the comic before deciding on an opinion on the idea of making Spider-Man not Peter Parker. I’m waiting to hear back from him about what he thought).

    Everyone else bought it because they bought the rest of Ultimate Spider-Man, and will continue to buy as long as Bendis is writing it, regardless of character or skin color. Most didn’t even hear about the news story, and therefor had no real opinions yet. The handful of customers who didn’t buy it, but talked about the issue, mostly felt it was pointless to make a brand new character take over as Spider-Man, and that the fact that he was black/hispanic was a non-issue. The fact that it’s being spun as an “event” is what they didn’t like, and it shouldn’t even be a news story. One customer had more racially insensitive things to say.

    Most agreed with my initial feelings that if he was presented as another race when the book started, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Many thought killing Peter wasn’t necessary, and he simply should have hung up his costume and stopped being a super hero, instead of Marvel killing him. Many comparisons to Ben Reiley were brought up.

    The customer base was roughly 50% white, 25% Asian, and 25% black, hispanic, and Indian. All were men, most were between the age of 30-50. A few were 21-29.

    Simply from a sales perspective, I plan on ordering the exact same amount of Ultimate Spider-Man #1 as I’ve been ordering, as it appears to not be an event people at my store are interested in. Most conversations today were about the new DC Universe Classic figures Wave 18 we got in today, as well as many people still talking about SDCC and Flashpoint.

  73. @Ryan my LCS seems to be doing the same thing. Ordering more DC comics, less Marvel.

    @Matt, there was a point. It had to do with Heidi basically implying that everyone against Bendis idea is a racist, which is so far from the truth it isn’t funny. I think minority characters are very important. But, the thing is, all Bendis has done is gain a lot of controversial publicity and no interest in the book. When he realizes that USM is pretty much dead. He’ll move on.

    Heidi should not and has no right to make a broad generalization of comic fandom. It is demeaning, insulting, and proves her and her site are not worth reading — at all.

  74. “It had to do with Heidi basically implying that everyone against Bendis idea is a racist”

    Mick, you are the only person on this thread who thought that. Not a single other person on this thread has even come close to suggesting that was what Heidi meant. Considering Heidi didn’t even mention Bendis’ name in her article, I think you need to actually go back and more carefully READ the article because it is blatantly obvious you haven’t.

    Next time check your persecution complex at the door and you won’t look quite as ignorant.

  75. Earth-2 Chad says:

    I bought the Jim Owsley Falcon miniseries, Tony Isabella’s Black Lightning and Kirby’s Black Panther off a rack in 7-11 when I was a kid. My Falcon Mego doll was one of my faves, and I still have the copy of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali I bought back then. I purchased Icon, Xombi and Static off the racks, I consider Christopher Priest’s Black Panther run to be one of the all-time greats, Keith Knight and Kyle Baker make me laugh (and get my cash), and I’ll be buying this new Spider-Man series.

    And I’m a 40-something white guy. All of which is my long-winded way of asking this: Can we lay off the 40-year-old white guy generalizations? Because I don’t know what those other guys’ problems are, but I am down.

  76. Shawn Kane says:

    This is like kicking a dead horse but price is always going to factor into what sells. It’s much easier to pick up extra titles when the cost isn’t 4 bucks. One of the things that allows me to pick up a few a the DC titles that I wouldn’t normally buy is the $2.99 price. When I was a kid I could read Power Man and Iron Fist for 60 cents. I didn’t care is Luke Cage was black or not. That title wouldn’t make it to 125 issues in todays $3.99 Marvel market.

  77. Synsidar says:

    Most agreed with my initial feelings that if he was presented as another race when the book started, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Many thought killing Peter wasn’t necessary, and he simply should have hung up his costume and stopped being a super hero, instead of Marvel killing him.

    Those reactions are legitimate. When the lead character in a series dies, it should mean the end of the series. Having the series continue on with someone new in the costume makes the costume more important than the person inside of it. It’s more like a girl buying a little Barbie doll — as long as the doll is called “Barbie,” what it looks like doesn’t matter — than it is reading a book for the reading experience.

    Having Parker retire wouldn’t avoid the costume vs. wearer problem, though. It should still mean the end of the series, and brings in real-life elements — the demands of real life can trump the “With great power comes great responsibility” philosophy. A person has to be able to do other things with his life, and if the power prevents doing that, then it’s harmful to the person.

    There are various legitimate ways of reacting to the situation, but the basic problem is caused by Marvel publishing Spider-Man as a serial character. If he were published in OGNs, each with its own continuity, than any number of people could wear the costume and it wouldn’t matter.

    SRS

  78. Earth 2 Chad:
    “My Falcon Mego doll was one of my faves…”

    Damn, I forgot all about that. I had one of those, too!

    Check out the new line of “Retro” Mego dolls currently on sale. I saw some in a Marshalls store last week … some of the classic characters, and some new figures — characters that should have been made into Megos originally and weren’t.

  79. Matthew Southworth says:

    A) I don’t think Heidi made any sort of racist generalizations whatsoever. She asked a question, it was a question regarding the nexus of race and the comics market, and I think it’s a question worth asking. If comics that don’t star white male characters don’t sell, why not? And if they don’t sell, then it’s silly to argue that a company is making a choice like this just to make money.

    If on the other hand they DO sell, then it’s valuable to point that out to shut down the negative commentary suggesting that only white characters can carry a monthly book. I don’t have an informed opinion on the topic of sales and marketing, so I’m interested to read the article and (most of) the comments.

    And Mick–if it’s not worth reading the site and the article, just go away. Don’t read it. Go make your own comics.

  80. Matthew Southworth says:

    And, an update from my corner: I bought and read the USM issue, and I thought it was confusing as hell. Only after reading it did I realize I was following three separate plotlines written and drawn by three separate creative teams. I can imagine that many readers who saw the media coverage and then bought the book found it very incomplete and unsatisfying.

    We didn’t get to know the new Spider-Man at all, just saw that same shot of him that tops this article. And by the way, I really, really like Brian Bendis’ work! Just found the issue disappointing, and I think it turned out to be a missed opportunity to bring a lot of people in on something that could be really interesting.

  81. briguyx says:

    I read an interview yesterday with Bendis saying Miles Morales is a 13 year old kid. Many of us older comic fans have no interest in reading the adventures of a 13 year old. If it helps to bring a new younger audience to Spider-Man, great, but I bet even older teens wouldn’t care about a character that young.

  82. Battlemaster says:

    In dealing with the question, what is the definition of sell?, how many books need to be sold to be considered, “it sold”
    when the sales of comics have been dwindling anyway, if non white characters typically sell less, what number are we looking for as successful, when all books are down

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