Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female

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While we don’t have any market research, the eyes don’t lie. If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.

- Axel Alonso, Marvel’s editor-in-chief

While making the rounds promoting Marvel’s new series Ms. Marvel, the above quote was made in discussing the female comic readership. Other than DC’s attempt at market research conducted with Nielsen, the market research done to figure out the readership and fandom of comic books pales in comparison of, well, pretty much all other forms of entertainment. That is partially what got me to begin looking in to what data was available and attempt to figure out those demographic questions.

Every month, I release new numbers looking at data readily available to anyone through Facebook. While it’s not necessarily everyone who shops up to comic shops, every Wednesday, regularly, irregularly, once in a blue moon, etc., these are people who have said they like “comics,” “graphic novels,” “manga,” and specific publishers. So, I’d have to disagree with Alonso, there is market research, and there potentially is a lot more market research using data available to Marvel, they just overlook it, or don’t admit they use it (Marvel, give me a call, I can hook you up).

In February, the Facebook universe of self-identified comic fans grew to a new high of over 24 million fans in the United States. Of that 24 million, women account for 46.67% of that population. Since I’ve been tracking these stats, that’s the highest percentage of women recorded. With some changes on Facebook’s end, I can now see what terms have grown from the previous month, and in this case it wasn’t any single term, it was many of the over 100 used to compile the statistics.

But what Alonso and Marvel is seeing shouldn’t be a shock at all when it comes to women and what interests them. In a September breakdown, I looked at just female comic book characters and who were fans of them. Exhausting a few lists online of every female comic book character, I found every term I could on Facebook for these stats. While the amount of people who like female comic characters was about 5.8 million, women made up a majority 62.07% of those fans.

Shocker: women like female characters. While Alonso says Marvel doesn’t have hard numbers to back it up, that correlation, and Marvel’s wanting to expand their female readership (which I tracked at about 36.96%) explains their launch of new solo series for Black Widow, Elektra, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel as part of All-New Marvel NOW! and greater focus on female characters in other books too. They see the phenomena my stats would predict.

Knowing who is buying what is vital for any modern day business. Understanding demographics allows you to better market your product to a greater audience, and sell similar products better. To ensure a healthy comic book industry in the future, we need to know who makes up that audience today. In 2014, every publisher should be thinking about that, working to find the answers to that question, and using that information in actionable ways.

Comments

  1. I have no beef with the percentage, but as we’ve talked about many times here, liking something on facebook doesn’t mean you’ll spend money on it.

  2. Brett Schenker says:

    Zach, I disagree with that dismissal. Modern marketing, which heavily leverages data, uses similar ideas that I’m talking about to sell their items/goods. Not all of these people buy comics, but they like these things, and thus others who match their profile should be reached out to. They might purchase items. Hell, if these folks are reached out to, they might purchase something. Profiling customers, supporters, people that visit your website is done every day by multi-million dollar corporations with great success. They use that data to better target, better message and find other similar potential customers. Just ask Amazon how that worked out for them.

  3. Lorenzo Linares says:

    24 million US comic book fans and yet the best selling books barely sell 100k at best.

    I am very skeptical of this facebook methodology.

    Got to agree with that other guy, using likes on facebook or whatever to make this claim about supposed female fandom is dubious at best.

  4. Having worked for 15+ years with market research, I can state that while the number of fans identify as such is high, sales tell a different tale. Archie supermarket tabloid comics sell in the 100,000 range, Batman sells about 125,000 copies a month, and is the industry leader in direct sales to the 2500 comic retailers out there. If they were buying comics regularly, the industry would be in much better shape for allthese comic fans. How can we get lapsed readers and new readers back in the game? 2014 is the 80th anniversary of the American Comic Publisher… and we have a long fight ahead to retake our place as real mainstream reading material.

  5. Heidi M. says:

    You can argue whether these 24 million people will but comics but as a sample size goes it is impossible to argue.

    Posting from Shakespeare’s hometown!

  6. Strabo says:

    Would be awfully nice if those 12 million female comic fans would buy a book once or twice too. Because there were a number of excellent books with female heroes or focused on women that sold terribly last year and were cancelled (JiM, I miss thee).

  7. Charles Knight says:

    I wouldn’t rely on likes given what we know about a) that it’s completely frictionless and b) what brands have reported about the near uselessness of the information due to bots.

    Converting frictionless information sharing into actual dollars has always been a problem.

  8. Serhend Sirkecioglu says:

    Yeah, purchasing power says much more. I may have liked the Nintendo page, but that does say I own a WiiU, 2DS, or 3DS(i don’t). I like the economist Facebook page, but I don’t own a subscription. this shows more the maximum potential of the comics industry, a serious plan and follow through is needed to make something out of the whole pie and i think that is happening, just not at the pace people would like it to be at.

  9. Don Gately says:

    I think some people are missing the point here – facebook likes are not equal to sales but they do describe the potential market. That’s the point of market research – it’s research into the market itself not the success or otherwise of any particular product in that market. Current sales are not the market (repeat x 1000) if there are people who could spend but choose not to. If you just focus on existing sales you only compete for market share where the real returns will be in generating market growth – it’s like apple back in the day looking at the existing sales of tablet computers and then deciding that developing an iPad would be pointless. Their market research identified and underexploited potential market.

    the key task then is to convert that potential market into sales – imho the female segment of the market is underexploited and whilst I roll my eyes at some cliched elements of MsMarvel it is definitely broadening the offer available and allowing Marvel to reach out to a wider proportion of the market

  10. Garjones says:

    Okay to comment on the 125,000 readers thing. That’s just in comics shops in North America, the full number is usually estimated to be 30% higher. It also presumes everyone buys Batman, the overall comics sold through Diamond each month numbers in the millions, yes many of those will be the same customers buying multiple titles but the number should be somewhere closer to the middle.

    Facebook is international. The likes of Panini reprint Marvel comics in Europe, I know the UK titles can sell 40,000 from them, the Spanish ones 100,000, that’s without the rest of Europe and South America. On top of that you have bookstore sales, Brian Hibbs’ analysis of US bookscan (around 70% of that market) shows 6 million sales on average for the top 750 books. The Walking Dead sold 3m copies of their volumes BEFORE the TV show aired, god knows what the figure is now.

    Thirdly, Comixology have announced they have sold $19m of comics in 2012, rising rapidly to $70m in 2013.

    So while the idea of a Marvel comic selling 24m copies is fanciful, the idea of a worldwide audience of 125,000 is hopelessly below the reality.

  11. Garjones says:

    Sorry, I didn’t see the stipulation of the United States so you can ignore those points but take on board the trades one :)

  12. I don’t think Brett ever claims that these columns are conclusive studies of the actual purchasing audience, yet that seems to be the top complaint among commenters. This type of potential audience measurement is extremely valuable for marketing, so valuable that Facebook developed an algorithm specifically for us marketers to exploit it (and make Brett’s research possible). Advertising your comic to a pool of millions who might not buy comics but might LIKE comics if they did is the kind of audience expansion possibility that makes any marketing pro light up with glee.

    Publishers should already know who their purchasing audience is, through years of market research, fan correspondence, trade show booth attendance, etc. Brett is simply demonstrating one small way to find out who COULD be your purchasing audience tomorrow if you pay attention.

  13. Thank you Jesse, this is exactly my point. I think after these, we need to ask why is that potential audience so large but sales so small? And, what can we do to reach out to them?

    Don, very well said as well.

  14. I’m sure the potential audience is much bigger than the sad sales figures we see, I just highly doubt that using facebook likes has much relevance beyond the simple percentage. Clicking “like” on facebook is effortless, mindless, and free. Plus it isn’t even always something that a person actually likes. How many times have you been asked to like something by a friend?

  15. @Zach — It’s true that hitting the Like button on Facebook is a quick, easy action, but is any other consumer behavior that makes its way into audience research more complex? Agencies don’t make respondents work very hard when conducting research — a respondent has to opt in somehow, either by telling a phone researcher that they like something, or by purchasing something online or signing up for an email list. It’s a lot of educated guessing. Someone proactively saying, “I like this” and having that response recorded in a searchable database is much more precise, if not foolproof.

    Also, liking something on Facebook may be quick, but it’s not without consequence. Whatever you like on the site becomes a part of your news feed, potentially interrupting your enjoyment of it. I think the instances of people liking things on Facebook that they don’t actually like are pretty rare.

  16. I’d also point out the terms I use are things like “comics,” “comic books,” “graphic novels,” “manga,” and specific publishers. I’d put some weight that if someone says they like IDW, or BOOM! or Image, they probably did that knowing something about them.

  17. And Zach, I’d point out I’ve been targeted by numerous businesses on Facebook to sell me their products based on my likes. That’s what advertising platforms do. Those likes are your potential audience and market.

  18. Don Gately says:

    “It’s true that hitting the Like button on Facebook is a quick, easy action, but is any other consumer behavior that makes its way into audience research more complex?”

    exactly – look Facebook’s market value. They’re that valuable because advertising and marketing companies value the research data that facebook generates from its users. Facebook’s core trading position, apart from access to customers, is based on selling market research for heavens sake – it’s users and their preferences are the product. If this data was in anyway hokey it wouldn’t be worth over $100bn as a company.

  19. Thomas Wayne says:

    These Facebook numbers are so far off when it comes to translating them into comic sale it isn’t even funny. I have the perfect example of this living with me….my 17 year old stepdaughter.
    She will identify herself as a comics fan…but she reads exactly ZERO monthly comics. She likes the medium, she likes the art, she loves the characters, but she very rarely reads any comics in any form. When she does its usually a landmark type book like WATCHMEN or THE KILLING JOKE. I know she has read PERSEPOLIS and enjoyed it quite much. And she has a dozen friends of roughly the same age who all identify as comic fans but they don’t read comics. They where the cool Batman tshirts and watch the cartoons and movies and things along those lines, but they do not read comics on any kind of regular basis.
    What has happened is the term COMICS has become a generic catch all term for certain Super Heroes and other pop culture characters. My nephew identifies as a comics fan because he loved The AVENGERS film. He’s never read a comic in his life, but since Superheroes are en vogue and its cool to be a nerd (or geek, whichever term you embrace) now this is how he falls into a particular social group….he likes comics….having never read any. It’s kind of like someone saying they like Monster movies but never saw Godzilla, King Kong or the like.
    These 24 million comics fans in the U.S. number….outrageous. Of that 24 million I bet less than 3 million read any kind of comics on at least a semi regular basis and of that number I bet less than 500,000 are female.
    Its been said a few times already about these Facebook surveys but I will say it once again for anyone who might have missed it…
    LIKING SOMETHING ON FACEBOOK AND ACTUALLY PARTICIPATING IN THAT SAME THING ARE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND UNEQUAL THINGS….

  20. Amanda says:

    Don is right when he says that this is describes a potential market that needs to be reached out to, and in order to make those sales to that potential market, the industry needs to change not just at the publisher level but at the retailer level. As a woman who reads comics and who has many friends who read comics, I can tell you that many women prefer to 1) buy comics digitally and 2) not open pull lists because they receive harassment from their retailers. I’ve heard stories about retailers who will deliberately “forget” to put something on a woman’s pull list or tell them they’re only adding a title featuring a woman to be “progressive” and that it’s going to be canceled anyway.

    Furthermore, as I’m sure many of you know, sales figures are not based on actual sales to readers; they’re based on orders by retailers. They therefore reflect what retailers are interested in and what they think will sell, and as many retailers are still men who are resistant to the idea that women read comics or that women BUY comics (as is evidenced by this thread) or that series featuring female leads are anything more than a fad, it’s no wonder that the vast female potential market does not translate into sales.

    (Not sure how these publishers count digital sales; I’m fairly sure Image does, as they’ve talked up their digital sales a lot, but as many series are cancelled before they even hit stores, I’m guessing the big two, or at least DC, doesn’t pay much attention to them.)

  21. @Thomas — your daughter is exactly the kind of person Brett is suggesting Marvel and DC could try to reach and convert to a purchase. Her “opting in” to the potential consumer pool on Facebook only confirms what he’s saying: someone who likes Batman enough to declare it publicly is likely to read a Batman comic, which she has done in the past and could do again.

  22. Dan Ahn says:

    “Hell, if these folks are reached out to, they might purchase something.”

    There has been an awful lot of this “reaching out” lately. And yet — Have you seen Captain Marvel’s sales figures? I’m glad books like that exist and definitely think it’s cool to try and expand the market, but there’s a point beyond which reality comes into conflict with all these naive hopes and dreams.

    You are looking at these internet numbers so hard to get them to tell you what you want to hear. The glaring flaw is simply that the internet isn’t the real world.

    These millions of ladies are “potential paying readers” in the same way Latino immigrants are potential Republicans.

  23. Brett Schenker says:

    “These millions of ladies are “potential paying readers” in the same way Latino immigrants are potential Republicans.”

    And yet millions was spent last election to get those folks registered and vote. That quote makes my point. There is no difference between the two. This is the exact type of work, though simplified, that was done in the 04 and 08 elections to identify the key demographics of likely supporters, and thus voters, for candidates.

    I don’t look at the numbers to tell me what I “want to hear.” I’m reporting what they’re saying, there’s a massive difference between the two.

    I’ve done the leg work to reach out to folks in this way, it works. It works well. Industry has been built on that type of work. Going by everyone’s logic here, Google ads are worthless? Just because someone searches for something doesn’t mean they’re interested? I’m pretty sure the advertising world and Google would laugh at that sentiment and logic.

    Market research, as I’ve presented, is your potential customers. Fact is that 24 million are potential, there is a subset that are paying customers. To grow a market you need to expand your subset of paying customers, and you do that by looking at this type of data.

  24. One thing I’ve found in my time trying to promote a band as well as my own comics and art is that with Facebook, people don’t like things unless they already know about it and want to keep up to date as to what’s happening with that thing. People rarely “like” something that they’re curious about or might potentially get into.

    So while likes may not convert into sales directly that’s not to say those “likes” don’t mean potential sales. The people “liking” something want to be pitched something!

  25. jonboy says:

    Another misleading headline.
    “Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female” isn’t accurate.

    It should be “Market Research Says 46.67% of Facebook Comic Fans are Female”

    There is a distinct difference.

  26. I have to admit part of this article gives me pause. That’s the part that says that women are ‘starved’ for things we can relate to. With that large of a market share being female, I think we’re…kind of doing okay finding stuff to relate to as it is?

    And yes, women like female characters, BUT I fear that this will cause the comics industry to ghettoize the way Hollywood has: there’s stuff for ‘everyone’ and stuff for ‘girls’ (there are movies, and then there are ‘chick flicks’). I’d rather not be pandered to based on that notion. A character I can relate to has a LOT less to do with body than situation, and honestly, I can’t relate to any hefty chested wasp waisted superheroine, because, yo, man, I don’t look like that, nor do I aspire to.

    I wish there would be a movement that addresses the fact that women seem to have no problem finding male-targeted comics to be relatable, but men, whoa, they have the issues relating to woman protagonists. People, under the hood, we’re all…humans. Can we start with that?

  27. Will Naslund says:

    “Market research, as I’ve presented, is your potential customers.”

    The ‘research’ you’ve ‘presented’ is statistically invalid to such and extent that a middle schooler could see through it — so you should really take (and pass) a Statistics class at your local junior college before offering your services to Marvel.

    Firstly, you don’t know what your real sample size is. Lots of folks have more than one FB account, as do businesses, clubs, fictional characters, fan orgs, etc. Secondly using vague search terms like ‘comics’ will bring you figures that are, at best, misleading. Someone who likes ‘comics’ is just as (if not more) likely to be the worlds biggest Beetle Bailey fan than a potential Ms. Marvel reader (let alone a *buyer*).

    I’m not saying that DC/Marvel can’t or shouldn’t do more to reach out to female readers. They should, and in the case of Marvel at least they pretty obviously are — and it’s resulted in some pretty nifty series.

    But a headline like ‘Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female’ is so sleazily disingenuous that it borders on outright falsity — and makes the denial of (the highly unsubtle) confirmation bias on your part almost laughable. You obviously went into this with an agenda and crafted a slapdash means of data collection designed to yield a ‘finding’ that would support it.

    An more honest writer/editor might have titled this article: ‘In An Ideal World, Women Could Make Up As Much As 46.67% Of The Potential Comics Market’ — that’s the only valid argument this highly suspect data set could support. Any assertions to the contrary are simply integrity-deficient propaganda. The Beat can, and actually has done, better where this sort of reportage is concerned: see John Jackson Miller’s work for an example of how to do data collection right.

    All in all, by staking out such an extreme, blatantly unsupportable conclusion, clickbait-y writing like this detracts from, rather than adding to, the many important conversations going about the growing visibility of women in comics.

  28. >>>Would be awfully nice if those 12 million female comic fans would buy a book once or twice too.

    Oh you mean like this? The chart that shows Fun Home, Persepolis and Hyperbole and a Half consistently selling graphic novels? And books like Smile and Dork Diaries best sellers in the kids arena?

    You people just don’t get it, do you? You walk around a con and see it about 45% women, see the online audience for comics about 45% women and get a sample of 24 million people about 45% women and start making up reasons why this number has nothing to do with the reality you’ve been ignoring for years.

    Having just been to a comics festival consisting of 150,000+ people of every age and gender, eagerly reading and buying comics, I find the idea that women are somehow innately opposed to buying material in the comics format more ludicrous than ever.

    Will Naslund, we are not talking about actual comics buyers, but the POTENTIAL market. Can you please explain to me, or find a grade school child to explain to me, what is the margin for error in a sample of 24 million people ?

  29. You all are right and clearly experts. This was all bunk and in no way can you build a profitable audience by looking at and using the data, and similar data I’ve presented….

    Oh wait, I think this article from Forbes might back me up on all of this in how you use this and the point I’m making, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kateharrison/2013/04/09/the-secret-to-acquiring-profitable-customers-on-facebook/

    And I think the various Pew studies that are exactly the same techniques as I’m doing, but with different audiences adds validity.

    And finally, having taken this data and compared it to the little real world metrics we do have, like what conventions release, it actually does line up and is similar! In fact I took the Facebook data for a subset of this audience, had that audience through other methods answer a survey, then bought data and appended it to that same audience. All three data sets were very close! Shocker.

    Nope, no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve only used this type of data to expand businesses and acquire new customers, just like numerous businesses have been doing.

  30. Mikael says:

    For someone who wants a little more accuracy/clarity in comics journalism, you’d think the Beat and its writers wouldn’t be so defensive when the same is asked of them.

    BTW – I’m a comics fan. And I don’t have “comics” liked on my facebook. So there. More skewed numbers.

  31. Mikael, you realize you are sitting there with your hands over your ears going “la la la la la.”

    The problem with this is that people like you are actively working to discourage comics from diversifying and broadening their audience. And publisher and retailers listen to this twaddle and think its the truth.

    Again, con someone please explain the margin of error in a sample of 24 million? Or explain why Brett, who does this for a living, is wrong and you are right?

  32. Brett, thank you for the time and effort you’ve put into your research. I’m frankly offended by the attitude and comments a few ill-mannered people are making in this forum. Please don’t be put off by them, and please continue to do the work you do. I agree with you basic idea – that there is an interest in comics that goes far beyond the current market. People can argue about the validity of the numbers if they want to, but as you’ve pointed out, what they’re really arguing with is the effectiveness of the “big data” mined by social media companies. (But it would be great if they talked about that rather than resorting to calling you names and claiming some bizarre and unjustified moral high ground.)

    But back to your data – wasn’t it just a few months ago that the number of self-identified comics fans was at just 14 million? That’s a 71% increase in a very short amount of time. Do you have any idea why the numbers have jumped up so much?

  33. Brett Schenker says:

    Hey Dallas, thank you for that kind response. It was 22 million in January, and had been about that since October or November the year before. The 2 million increase in February happened through numerous terms I use. It wasn’t just one or two that went big, it was a long list of dozens of different terms that grew the amount.

    Previous increases were either my including more terms, as I refined it all, or late last year Facebook changed how they serve ads which expanded the universe, though I can’t say what they exactly changed, just they changed it.

  34. One of the weird things about comics is that many people perceive the market to be limited to periodicals put out by a few companies. The truth is that the market has a much larger scope. Publisher from outside that limited scope that are looking to expand their market share could do worse than to look at data like Brett’s and use it to build a different kind of marketing campaign. Most current comics marketing is aimed at current readers and bringing in lapsed readers to the periodical market – not at new readers from a different gender reading graphic novels. This kind of market research has the potential to be the foundation for that kind of big marketing campaign – if anyone could actually bankroll it.

  35. “Would be awfully nice if those 12 million female comic fans would buy a book once or twice too.”
    Translation: Would be awfully nice if they bought specifically Marvel and DC superhero books

    I’m a female comics fan. I shell out hundreds of dollars at indie shows. My latest purchases were Hyperbole and a Half, Marek Bennett’s 500+ page Slovakia, and the Adventure Time monthlies. Yet time after time, internet discussion ignores all of this and tries to blame/guilt-trip me for not buying comics that I just plain don’t like!

    It feels like that old joke about a guy looking for his lost keys under the streetlamp because that’s where the light is best. My actions and purchasing power are only worthwhile if they’re in this tiny little restricted area that’s completely separate from where my activity and interests really are.

  36. Chris says:

    Just because you don’t see many women at your shop or hear them obsessing about the same big 2 books as your buddies, doesn’t mean they’re not reading comics and shopping other places. Let’s not forget how female unfriendly most of the LCS dungeons are.

  37. Brett Schenker says:

    RM, it’s actually not as costly to do as you think for advertising. Last I checked, costs per click for the universe I use is $0.33 to $0.73 per click. The costs per 1000 impressions is $0.03 to $1.34. A budget of just a few hundred dollars a month can do a lot. But yes, to use the data, that absolutely costs money.

  38. Chris says:

    Also I think it’s a bit entitled to expect everyone who likes superheroes to be potential comic book readers. Why isn’t it ok to just like a movie, or a t shirt, or have kids who like the stuff? Why do fans create this zero sum game where having a pull list of x amount of monthly print books is the only qualifier for whether it not your a ‘real fan’?

    These characters are being cross marketed into every genre and product category for a reason. It’s not all about growing the direct market.

  39. Brett Schenker says:

    Chris, don’t disagree with that, but the terms I use aren’t superheroes, characters, writers, or even series titles. They’re generic terms like ‘comic book’ or publishers names.

    And cross marketing isn’t a bad idea, lots of folks do it. If I was managing the Walking Dead, I’d mention the comic series, video game, toys, etc to fans of the tv show, and mix that up as you’d like. You won’t get everyone, but I’m sure there’s individuals who have never read the comic series but what the television show you would indeed convert. I think the sales stats on Amazon shows how that shakes out, and the dominance of the trades since the television show launched is an indication you can indeed convert folks.

    In the end, can’t hurt to try.

  40. Ed Brubaker says:

    http://www.thecomicbooks.com/pics/var/resizes/Award-Ceremonies/Will-Eisner-Awards/2013-Will-Eisner-Awards/IMG_5599.JPG?m=1374640731

    This is the group photo of last years’s Eisner winners. Roughly 46% of them are women.

  41. Ed Brubaker says:

    But I have no idea how to properly post a photo here, so… I suck. There are a lot of women who read and create comics. Many of them just aren’t aimed at the same people buying superhero comics. While others are.

    My point is, Marvel and DC aren’t the entire industry, there are tons of alternatives. Look at that Eisner photo. It’s not a sausage party (I wasn’t there, can’t verify the menu).

  42. Just to be clear, as I said above, I got not beef with the actual percentage, I’m just suspicious of the total number. I really got no horse in the race of what percentage of comic buyers are male vs female.

  43. Brett Schenker says:

    Zach, I just report back what I’m returned for results. It’s 24 million individuals that have “liked” a comic related term on Facebook. I think it’s worthwhile to spend time and money to reach out to them and try to convert them into customers/readers. They like something, shows they have some interest in what’s there.

  44. johnrobiethecat says:

    >>Mikael, you realize you are sitting there with your hands over your ears going “la la la la la.”

    The problem with this is that people like you are actively working to discourage comics from diversifying and broadening their audience. And publisher and retailers listen to this twaddle and think its the truth.>>

    You seem to have a lot of direct access to friends and decision makers in your industry to press them on these points but when the issue comes up, you give them the E-Z pass judging by the recent Eric Stephenson interview and others. Better to make your point to people that make decisions, not just to random commentators. It really strikes hollow to complain otherwise and be self rightous about it.

  45. You’re all going to look like fools when it turns out 46.66% of readers are women and not 46.67. Then we’ll see The Beat for the HOUSE OF LIES we all know it to be!!

  46. rob e says:

    Potential.

    I could potentially win the lottery.

    Maybe one day, I’ll actually buy a ticket.

    Just because someone could potentially do something doesn’t mean that they’ll actually DO it.

    Sales figures are much more telling than people who say that they, maybe one day, they might actually BUY a comic book, if the stars align just the right way.

    Actually, I’d love to see everyone who says they’d potentially buy a comic book get off their duffs and actually do it. The more comic book buyers we have out there, the better off the industry as a whole would be. So come on, Facebook fans, get out there and find some comic books you’ll enjoy! And keep reading!

  47. Al™ says:

    I agree with Don Gately, that there simply are a LOT of potential readers out there. The next question is how to get them to purchase at least one comic?
    Free Comic Book Day is coming… time to bring in new customers.

  48. I have no doubt in my mind that nearly half of all people who like comics are women.

    A stat that is fairly meaningless, however, in that both DC & Marvel are not taking advantage of that fact in any way, shape or form. Hell, DC can’t even tell the difference between Green Lantern and Green Arrow anymore.

  49. In my life, I talk about comics to a lot of different people from different walks of life. Some people, when I mention the word “comics” (as opposed to “Graphic Novels”, which most people still don’t recognize), wrinkle their brow; their mouth grimaces and their head tilts back. A second group of people show little reaction, blank expressions and may grunt out a “huh” or two. A third group will smile; their eyes light up and they become more attentive to the conversation. They will usually pepper me with questions, whether or not they’ve read many comics, or any comics, and often they press me for recommendations (to which I never have, and never will, suggest Marvel and DC superheroes – trust me, they’re not interested).

    This article is talking about that third group.

  50. MiddleSkool says:

    “Or explain why Brett, who does this for a living, is wrong and you are right?”

    Did he write the headline or did you? Because this–”Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female”–is a LIE. Whoever wrote it is wrong.

    Anyone that has studied statistics knows that the results can be presented in a number of different ways to support or attack a preconceived idea or agenda. If someone takes issue with your poor attempts at journalism, it doesn’t have to be the result of a hatred of women or a movement to keep them marginalized. As evidenced by this eloquent response following the classic fingers-in-the-ears-saying-la-la-la taunt after a commenter pulled Heidi’s digital pigtails, “The problem with this is that people like you are actively working to discourage comics from diversifying and broadening their audience.” You open with a lie and when called on it your retort is that those calling you on it are doing so because they either don’t want it to be true or are determined to keep it from becoming true. That just doesn’t hold water.

    Aside from it being obviously skewed to the point of uselessness to about half of the folks in this comment section, anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not representative of the potential market for comics. A comics fan needs to be built from the ground up, and a Facebook “like” is not a solid foundation. As with most things internet and especially Facebook, it’s a facade…a fugazi. The only people who still believe that Facebook is worth something are people that have invested in Facebook.

    Listen up, Comics. If you want to put your marketing dollars to work in the best way possible in order to create new fans that give you money for your product, put respectable people reading comics on television and film. Put the new Ms. Marvel comic in Mayim Bialik’s hands on The Big Bang Theory during sweeps and have her say nice things. For all of his purported “fandom”, I’ve found ONE reference to Jerry Seinfeld actually reading a Superman comic on his show out of 172 possibilities. If I hadn’t found that solitary instance, I was ready to use him as the perfect example of someone that would “like” his comic book hero or publisher on Facebook yet would not actually read any comics.

    I don’t care who reads comics or why. All I care about is that the creators I like keep making them. No marginalization here.

    “Facebook Research says 46.67% of Comics ‘likes’ are from Female Users.” Fixed.

  51. Silly But True says:

    RE: Heidi: “Again, con someone please explain the margin of error in a sample of 24 million?”

    24 million what?!? Not people. In 2012 FB itself estimated that 9 percent of its users were fake. That number has grown since then. May of last year, it was estimated at 10 percent. It looks like their estimates now might be at 12 percent, of which 8 percent are multiple-accounts by same user.

    That right, by Facebook’s own recent filing, they might have between 68 MILLION to 138 MILLION fake accounts.

    They estimate misclassified accounts — those pages registered by Spot, Rover, Fluffy, or Bob’s Amoco, etc. — to be between 10 MILLION to 26 MILLION, alone.

    It’s likely that a significant amount of users that choose to say something on FB, are also engaged in gaming the system for what they said.

    This is not an insignificant fact; these issues negatively impact the business of FB, and will likewise negatively impact businesses that rely on the false information.

    That’s the art in this. Those companies able to utilize FB while gleaning through the BS will reap rewards. Those that gamble their business on extrapolations of fake data will be in a world of hurt.

    Silly but True

  52. Strabo says:

    @Cathy Leamy: Nobody said you should buy books you don’t want to read just because they are somewhat “designed” specifically for women (I gladly pick up the slack even if I am a man – I found I tend to prefer them over most of the usual darkgrim-superserious fare).
    But I would assume with a potential market of 12 million female comic fans there should be more potential for women focused books than just rounding out the charts at the bottom, especially since many of these books were/are easily of a far higher quality than some of the stuff at the top 10.

    Even Adventure Time sells just around 17000 books – that’s not really setting the house on fire, even for a non-DC/Marvel book. Which again, with a potential of 24 million people, seems a awfully small number of potential fans translated into sales.

  53. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Types from Burmingham Int’l Airport:

    Once again every one who is disputing the potential audience of diverse comics readers is IGNORING the existing success stories outside the big Two that appeal to women. Amazing.

  54. @Rob E — While I understand your point that, to you, sales figures are the only relevant measure, it’s just fundamentally not the way marketing works. I think that’s the misunderstanding underlying this concern posted by you and other commenters on the thread, that a potential audience isn’t important because they can swing either way. The entire point of marketing is to identify that potential audience and attempt to swing them towards a purchase. Sales is about generating real orders and purchases, while Marketing is about increasing awareness of a product that COULD lead to an order or a purchase. The whole operation is built on potential. Why else do we focus so much on consumer impressions in marketing? What the heck is a consumer impression worth against an actual cash transaction? It’s worth a future cash transaction that, if not planted and cultivated today, won’t be there tomorrow.

  55. Silly But True says:

    RE: Success Stories Outside the Big Two

    I haven’t seen anyone dispute that there’s been success stories outside the Big Two. But, I think why people focus comment on the Big Two in this comments section to this lead article is due to this lead article which opens with anecdotal observations by one Mr. Axel Alonso and then makes the attempt to link them to even less scientific numbers from FB while including a graphic to the new Ms. Marvel.

    Who does Axel work for again?? Who publishes Ms. Marvel?

    And you blame the commenters for focusing too much on the Big Two? Yeesh.

    Silly but True

  56. Definition: Market Research
    1) the gathering and studying of data relating to consumer preferences, purchasing power, etc., especially prior to introducing a product on the market.
    2) any organized effort to gather information about target markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy.

    Can someone say the information I presented doesn’t meet either of those definitions? If it does meet either of those definitions, which it does, then the headline isn’t false at all and quite accurate.

    I chose the headline, and yes it’s click-baitish, but I didn’t include “Facebook” or “like” in the headline because LESS PEOPLE READ THESE ARTICLES. How do I know that? We tested it! Crazy that thought went into it all.

  57. I see there’s a big following on Facebook for The Sun as well.

    You have to admit, it’s a pretty good star.

  58. Re: False Facebook Clicks

    Absolutely it’s an issue on Facebook and I’ve read those estimates too. But all online activities suffer from this and/or bots. Google Ads have issues with clicks, Youtube videos have issues with false views. It’s a problem online.

    But, even if you were to take into account 10% fraud in my stats, that still puts the number at roughly 22 million overall and over 10 million women. 22 million vs 24 million really makes a difference for the purposes of this discussion?

    But, even with those false clicks and likes, only 68% of Adults with internet access are on Facebook. So, take away 10%, then add in the 32%, plus those without internet access and it’s all a wash and doesn’t matter when it comes to these discussion which basically should be “Wow that’s a lot of people, more than what would seem to be actively purchasing. How do we reach them? How come they’re not more active?”

  59. Re:
    “Who does Axel work for again?? Who publishes Ms. Marvel?

    And you blame the commenters for focusing too much on the Big Two? Yeesh.”

    Since I wrote this article in response to his quote which ignores the fact there is readily available data, I don’t see the point. Go through past posts about this and you can see there’s more than a focus on the “Big Two” when it comes to these.

  60. Re: MiddleSkool

    “Anyone that has studied statistics knows that the results can be presented in a number of different ways to support or attack a preconceived idea or agenda.”

    That is correct. But I don’t see how I’m supporting something with spin here. I took terms, broke them down by gender, age, education, etc. and presented them. Kind of hard to spin that at all. Hell, go to the original post and I present the raw numbers. There was no survey with bias in questions, this is just straight what the system returns for data.

    “A comics fan needs to be built from the ground up, and a Facebook “like” is not a solid foundation. As with most things internet and especially Facebook, it’s a facade…a fugazi. The only people who still believe that Facebook is worth something are people that have invested in Facebook.”

    I agree on the ground up, that’s why I advocate for using grassroots organizing to help build the industry. I’ve written about that numerous times as well. But, using this data to advertise is a part of that strategy as well. It’s a cheap, easy way to target people based on their specific likes and interests. It’s open to anyone and it works quite well if done right.

    “Listen up, Comics. If you want to put your marketing dollars to work in the best way possible in order to create new fans that give you money for your product, put respectable people reading comics on television and film. Put the new Ms. Marvel comic in Mayim Bialik’s hands on The Big Bang Theory during sweeps and have her say nice things. For all of his purported “fandom”, I’ve found ONE reference to Jerry Seinfeld actually reading a Superman comic on his show out of 172 possibilities. If I hadn’t found that solitary instance, I was ready to use him as the perfect example of someone that would “like” his comic book hero or publisher on Facebook yet would not actually read any comics.”

    Except Jerry Seinfeld often talked about how he read comics in interviews. The President of the United States has mentioned he likes/liked comics. There’s issues with what you bring up:
    1) It takes a lot of money to put a comic in the hand of the Big Bang Theory which I’ll point out does a lot of promotion either overtly or subtlety. Small publishers, even medium publishers, don’t have the type of cash to do that sort of thing. What I present is a cheap, easy way to target your comic/game/whatever to people who have an affinity for those items. A way for anyone to do that.
    2) Marketing is also about measurement. What you propose is hard to measure. An online ad is very easy to measure. “What gets measured, gets done.” Show success with one method, they’ll fund more of that method. You can measure online buzz around that guest spot and make some loose connections, but when it comes to bang for the buck, online advertising will probably win out.

    “I don’t care who reads comics or why. All I care about is that the creators I like keep making them. No marginalization here.”

    That’s great, glad we agree on that. So I’ve used the data I’ve presented and subsets of it to run advertising campaigns on Facebook and through Google Ads for folks in the comic industry, tailored to various budgets, and can happily said returned a profit each time. It brought in new purchasers to those who advertised, purchasers they could go to again and again. I’ll repeat that, the initial ads were profitable, not counting those who returned to purchase multiple times, which made them even more so.That data was used and refined to make further ads more successful. I helped expand their comic book buying customer base.

    So again, I ask, with my various responses here, what’s the push back?

  61. Re: Jesse
    “Sales is about generating real orders and purchases, while Marketing is about increasing awareness of a product that COULD lead to an order or a purchase. The whole operation is built on potential. Why else do we focus so much on consumer impressions in marketing? What the heck is a consumer impression worth against an actual cash transaction? It’s worth a future cash transaction that, if not planted and cultivated today, won’t be there tomorrow.”

    This nails why this data is important. It seems like those on this thread in marketing “get it.”

  62. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Now I’m at Paris-CDG but only 15
    Minutes of free wifi. Brett will have to hold the fort until I get home to SBM, but warning: WHEN I GET A FOOD NIGHTS SLEEP I AM BANNING TROLLS. I’ve had it with this misdirection and time wasting.

  63. “I think it’s worthwhile to spend time and money to reach out to them and try to convert them into customers/readers. They like something, shows they have some interest in what’s there.” – B. Schenker

    Okay. Any suggestions on how to do that? Thanks so much!

  64. Hey Rey! Facebook has a pretty solid section all about their ad platform, https://www.facebook.com/advertising/?campaign_id=402047449186&placement=pflo&extra_1=not-admgr-user

    I think the best place to start with any ad is to figure out the following:
    1) What are you going to advertise?
    example: A product for sale, a website, your Facebook Page

    2) What is your goal in advertising the above?
    example: To sell a product, to build traffic, to get email sign ups, to get likes, raise awareness

    3) Who might be interested in what you’re advertising?
    example: Is there a similar product whose fans might be interested, existing fans, some general group

    4) What images and text might get them to check it out?
    example: This involves a lot of testing when your ads launch

    5) Cost – To do the above, what will it cost?
    example: If it costs $2 in an ad to sell a $1 comic, obviously, you’d need follow up sales, etc.

    If you already have a page and just want to get a feel for what it’s all like, then I’d suggest going with that, and trying to boost your “likes.” It’ll allow you to get a feel for how it all works, and you can do something simple like $10 for a week. That’ll allow you to dip your toes in and not make a massive financial commitment.

  65. Pink Apocalypse says:

    Hey, yo.

    I can’t stand up to pee without causing an awful mess, but *don’t* have a Facebook account (it’s a horrible time-suck I’ve rejected). Also, I’ve had an on-and-off love affair with comics. Where’s that for demographics?

    Loved them into my teens then started to feel gross and depressed with the hyper-objectified and sexualized Chrome Age of the 90′s, then quit. Came wandering back out of curiosity a few years ago, and have gotten deeply re-hooked, but most of it isn’t spandex.

    Ironically, the ‘Nu52′ hype may have gotten me curious, but I felt just as insulted and excluded as the year I left. Batgirl is the only way they get money from me. Or to be more accurate, Simone is the only one to get money from me.

    Marvel is the same old daisy-chain of crossovers where nothing really changes or matters, which doesn’t provoke the wonder-of-consequence I got from old and tattered Silver Age back issues. I’m loving Miles and Cataclysm, but they’ll probably cancel it like everything else I end up loving (Sif). Te industry wants a Magic Formula?

    1.) Don’t insult me (less tropes and T&A).
    2.) Engage me (less tread-milling).

    How hard can that be? Very, apparently.

  66. Holy S#*t! Thanks so much for the info, Brett.
    It would be great to hear more of your thoughts. Email me and I can be more specific with our project. THANKS again!

  67. >> Listen up, Comics. If you want to put your marketing dollars to work in the best way possible in order to create new fans that give you money for your product, put respectable people reading comics on television and film. Put the new Ms. Marvel comic in Mayim Bialik’s hands on The Big Bang Theory during sweeps and have her say nice things.>>

    Right, because that’s how television works. That’s why sweeps week regularly has the story lines on BIG BANG THEORY distorted so one of the stars can say nice things about a product while holding it up for the camera.

    I mean, there’s product placement and then there’s “have one of the actors hold the product and say nice things about it.” We know that’s possible because of all the times Sheldon Cooper waxes rhapsodic about Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

    Yeah, yeah, they talk about games and stuff, but they do it in service of their stories, not because the game manufacturer is paying them to shill the product during sweeps.

    So aside from that it’s not possible, and would be waaaaaay out of budget for the comics industry even if it was possible (because richer advertisers would take up all the slots in a heartbeat), that’s the perfect plan.

    [Even at normal advertising rates, a single sweeps-week commercial on THE BIG BANG THEORY (much less an in-show infomercial) would cost so much that it'd wipe out over a year's worth of profits on the new MS. MARVEL comic, maybe much more.]

    kdb

  68. Heidi’s been sponsored by MacDonalds for years

  69. Mikael says:

    “The problem with this is that people like you are actively working to discourage comics from diversifying and broadening their audience. And publisher and retailers listen to this twaddle and think its the truth.”

    People like me – what, you mean someone who gives comics to his nephews and nieces? Who gets into regular conversations with non-comic reading friends about the source material for all those comic movies they like? Or maybe “people like me” means people of color? Oh right – better to assume than to actually do some (bum bum bum) market research!

    Just by buying and reading comics this “people like me” diversifies the comics audience. But sure – generalize away. That’s what we’re arguing here anyway.

  70. Brett Schenker says:

    Mikael – I’d say people pissing on good and new ideas or anything that’s not standard operating procedure without offering constructive reasoning or counter ideas

  71. Rich H says:

    Being a fan of something isn’t the same as actual buyers.

    Look at Lady Gaga. She has 41 million followers on Twitter, but only 300,000 people bought her last album when it debuted.

    And all this “let’s have Marvel or DC reach out” to these 24 million fans… why? There’s an assumption here that those fans would want Marvel and DC, that those companies should try and reach them.

    Comics is a bigger world than these 2 companies.

  72. Hey Brett, did you know that being a fan of something isn’t the same as an actual buyer?

  73. Brett Schenker says:

    Rich, this isn’t specific to Marvel or DC, every publisher and creator should be using data like this to reach out to folks.

    In fact I closed by saying “In 2014, every publisher should be thinking about that, working to find the answers to that question, and using that information in actionable ways.”

    The article focuses on Marvel since a high-profile staffer of theirs said market data doesn’t exist, when it clearly does.

    As far as “Being a fan of something isn’t the same as actual buyers.”

    As pointed out numerous times above, I never said these were buyers. I’ve made it clear with every post of this type these are people who have shown an interest, an affinity for these products and should be engaged in an attempt to turn them into buyers.

  74. Brett Schenker says:

    Hey Jesse. I’m not clear on it at all. I think a few more comments about that, it might sink in.

  75. Silly But True says:

    Well, the same market data suggests there’s a potential market of up to 26 million Facebook users who are pets that might really be into Pet Avengers.

    The obvious is that a company would be stupid to reach out to them, since dogs and cats don’t really have that much disposable income to spend, despite however much they enjoy reading action-packed, fun-filled tales about Lockjaw and company.

    I’d buy more Pet Avengers, mind you. And sometimes I read it with my dog nearby. But, she’s not walking into a comic shop any time soon.

    The problem here, I think is not any disagreement with the notion that women comic buyers need to be better engaged by the industry. The problem is that there is a pretty wide leap for a company to go from a very generalized notion of **”Wow that’s a lot of people, more than what would seem to be actively purchasing. How do we reach them? How come they’re not more active?”** to go to **[spend real dollars on X]**. How much can they devote to such a gamble, and what do they spend it on? Special product placement in Big Bang Theory? That’s actually a risky move that could piss off as many or more fans than it may bring in; people hate it when they know they’re being gamed. And such an overt shameless practice is probably pretty slimy.

    I mean with all of the Ms.Marvels, She-hulks, X-23′s, Runaways, Fearless Defenders, Spider-girls, Aliases, et. al., going back to Epic days of suitable product, one cannot say that these people haven’t been trying. But, for all of the hopes and dreams, they do have hard sales numbers to back their decisions. A few may remember Mary Jane Loves Spider-man, because it opened to critical acclaim and some decent sales in the beginning. Fewer may realize that Marvel tried radical outreach with the series, going to the point of placing female-friendly collected versions in Target — where they absolutely knew they had an audience of interested female comic fans — that they didn’t do with any other title at the time. The series could not sustain itself; the fault of creative team in motion? Or just a lack of market?

    What’s a tolerable amount of millions to throw at a problem before one would be satisfied that the gamble isn’t going to pay off?

    Silly but True

  76. >> What’s a tolerable amount of millions to throw at a problem before one would be satisfied that the gamble isn’t going to pay off? >>

    It’s an interesting question, but it kind of assumes a conclusion. At some point, you give up, rather than note that in the time they’ve been trying those books, female readership does seem to have increased, so maybe the solution isn’t to give up after all. Maybe it’s not about finding that magic-bullet book that’ll transform everything.

    Maybe you look at what’s worked and do more of that, try other things that seem to be working for other publishers, and keep working on making better and more appealing books than you did last month.

    But the idea that if you’ve tried a bunch of female superheroes and they didn’t set the sky on fire so forget about it is the kind of thought that’ll lead you to abandon everything, because the majority of what a company tries isn’t going to work, whether it’s female-led books, or minority books, or new characters, and so on and so forth.

    It’s also worth looking beyond, perhaps, “well, we gave ‘em female superheroes, what else could we possibly try?” After all, SANDMAN was not a female-lead book, but it’s the closest thing to a breakthrough book for female readership Marvel or DC have managed in the direct-market era. FABLES isn’t far behind.

    SMILE and DRAMA aren’t even adventure books. And books that appeal to women have included such titles as X-MEN, SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN and G.I. JOE, which offered different things for different tastes.*

    If you’re trying to sell comics to dogs, there’s probably a point at which you should stop, and it should probably be around the time you think about how much disposable cash dogs have, and their average time-per-week spent reading. But it would be pretty silly to equate selling comics to women to selling comics to dogs. Women, in general, spend more money on reading material than men, and spend more hours reading, something that can’t be said for the canine market. Women used to read a lot more comics from traditional comics publishers than they do now, and still seem drawn to the form outside those mainstream publishers.

    So in the face of what seems to be slowly improving numbers, whether because of the content, the availability of TPBs in places more women shop, of whatever, is the solution to figure you’ve spent enough money, so give up and consider men your only market, even though most new books aimed at male readers also have a hard time getting any traction? Or do you build on positive developments where you can find them, and stay open to new ideas to try?

    After all, if a 50-issue MS. MARVEL series didn’t last as long as FANTASTIC FOUR, at least it made you a profit for four years, which is more than any single NOVA series has managed so far, to pick another character they keep trying with.

    kdb

    *I name those three because back in the 1980s, Marvel did an analysis of the mail sent in, and those three were the books that attracted the largest percentage of letters from people with apparently-female names.

  77. All this pissing on about the poor methodology and how 20+ million people don’t actually buy comics is an impressive display of absolute point-missage.

    Let’s say 50k of established comics readers are likely to buy Ms. Marvel #1. And you would call double that (100k) to be “great sales”. Okay, you don’t believe that you could convince 12 million women to buy a Ms. Marvel comic. Does it really seem JUST as impossible to convince a mere 0.4% of them to buy a comic?

    And let’s also keep in mind we armchair market analysts still don’t have access to digital sales figures, which Comixology’s own market research states are largely bought by women. Marvel, however, does have access to these sales figures, and sure started to launch a hell of a lot of female-led books after a few fiscal quarters of being day-and-date digital. Food for thought.

  78. David D. says:

    I think there has been a real tone to how The Beat and it’s staff responds to comments lately. This conversation is a good example of it.

    A premise is put forward, that ties into the larger, ideological idea that The Beat is pushing. (And that is not a criticism- bloggers can and should have beliefs, fight for them, and continue to report on things that connect)

    The problem comes that, the moment a criticism is made of a premise (e.g. ‘these Facebook stats don’t actually say what this headline says they are saying’) then suddenly that is the comment of someone who part of the larger ‘them’ who are ‘against us’ rather than ‘with us’. Specific criticisms are dismissed as misdirection, trolling, missing the larger point. Or, worse, intent is ascribed like you are supporting the forces of the enemy.

    It is a partisan response. And it seems to get in the way of listening. There is nothing wrong with having a larger ideological motivation, but it shouldn’t lead to any story with a “demographics” tag should be above question no matter how shaky the premise at hand might be.

    This seems to be a trend lately, and I think it is a negative one for The Beat, and the tone around here.

    You have got a lot of smart readers– and they ARE your readers, the ones providing the traffic. And you don’t actually want this to turn into an echo chamber, do you?

    Rather than reaching for the troll label and assuming the worst when they disagree, maybe just listen to what they are saying (and, of course, still disagree if you do) rather than just look at them as ‘hey look, it’s the opposition! It’s THEM!’ Because, probably, the real THEM, the people that would maintain the status quo at all costs, are probably not the people that would even read this blog, or any blog like it. They would probably keep buying (or in the case of a not-good retailer) ordering books like they always have without even taking this time to reflect on the larger conversation.

  79. David D wrote: “I think there has been a real tone to how The Beat and it’s staff responds to comments lately. This conversation is a good example of it.

    A premise is put forward, that ties into the larger, ideological idea that The Beat is pushing. (And that is not a criticism- bloggers can and should have beliefs, fight for them, and continue to report on things that connect)

    The problem comes that, the moment a criticism is made of a premise (e.g. ‘these Facebook stats don’t actually say what this headline says they are saying’) then suddenly that is the comment of someone who part of the larger ‘them’ who are ‘against us’ rather than ‘with us’. Specific criticisms are dismissed as misdirection, trolling, missing the larger point. Or, worse, intent is ascribed like you are supporting the forces of the enemy.

    It is a partisan response. And it seems to get in the way of listening. There is nothing wrong with having a larger ideological motivation, but it shouldn’t lead to any story with a “demographics” tag should be above question no matter how shaky the premise at hand might be.

    This seems to be a trend lately, and I think it is a negative one for The Beat, and the tone around here.”

    This, this, a thousand and one times this!!!!!!

  80. Miles Bregger says:

    Thank you, David. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not going to venture my own opinion as to whether the extent of Brett’s market research is enough to validate the claim made in his headline, but boy do the staff here seem defensive when it comes to dissenting opinion. It’s disheartening to see commentators who had the audacity to question Brett’s methodology or the headline itself being dismissed as trolls. I’d like for Brett’s headline to be accurate, but I’m not sure that it is (well, so much for not venturing an opinion). That doesn’t mean I’m trying to thwart an agenda or that I have one of my own (I do, but it’s to get the laundry done before my wife gets home).

  81. The Beat Herself says:

    >>>A premise is put forward, that ties into the larger, ideological idea that The Beat is pushing. (And that is not a criticism- bloggers can and should have beliefs, fight for them, and continue to report on things that connect)

    BUt what was the premise put forth here? simply that comics have a potential audience that is nearly 50% female, a higher percentage than any previous surveys have shown (DC purposely rejected a higher female readership figure in their New 52 survey, for instance). The female market is evident when you look around you and see women flooding into every aspect of the business, but is consistently ignored or denied.

    To me the commenters here who are focusing on a premise that BRETT DID NOT MAKE‚ ie 12 million women will buy Ms Marvel, are deliberately obfuscating the issue.

    It’s no secret that gender politics have become more urgent in just about every arena of late, simply because women now have avenues to voice their opinions. To me this is not about anger. As I’ve stated in the past, it is obvious that both Marvel and DC are viewed as entertainment for boys by their corporate owners.

    The point that the very smart beat readers SHOULD be making is, what kinds of comics are women reading? What are they buying? How can we integrate these audiences—as has been done VERY successfully with MArvels movies which are now considered date movies—to make comics MORE profitable and build larger audiences for MORE comics?

    This is NOT about saying “Men you can’t read comics you like any more!” It’s about saying “Comics are for Everybody, and here’s some demographic data that backs this up.”

    Brett’s research should be investigated and tested, of course. But I can’t see how it is not a positive in every regard.

    If I get annoyed it’s because I’ve been hearing these kinds of tut tuts and selective readings and outright prejudice for my entire life as a comics fan, creator and journalist.

  82. I was going to chime in again about the negativity, but Heidi has summed it up nicely. As a whole the negativity to my posts border the trollish, adding nothing to the conversation at large, ie how do you use this info, or how can we market to them. Instead it is dismissing the data due to lack of understanding how it’s used every day in the real world.

    I find it interesting the folks who have had positive comments are folks who understand/work in marketing, creators, women. Each thread it has been the same, over and over. That gets tiring, when the same individuals, make the same statements, and are constantly proven their statements/arguments are factually incorrect/invalid.

    Attacks are made on claims and statements I “make” that are nowhere present in the posts. A lack of understanding of the definition of “market research” is shown.

    I do these posts here and on my site weekly, because there is no other research like this out there. It doesn’t exist. I have reporters looking for it for stories and all they find is what I’m doing. I have never been in or worked with an industry that is so phobic about facts and numbers and hangs on to easily disproved myths. The marketing that goes on seems to begin from incorrect beliefs and assumptions. The status quo. It is in my nature to shake up the status quo. I take pride in that. I like to get people to think and see things differently. To explore, and try new things. Some succeed. Some fail. But I have a good track record in my career.

    So, I’ll respond to what might win the cake in this thread as the most illogical comment about pets and comics. Instead of quoting the debate scene in Happy Gilmore, I’ll instead show how you’d actually use that data, with a slight twist (and the real response is to the comment, because animals can’t read or make purchases and my head hurts from having to read that).

    Scenario on how you’d use this data:
    You have people who like comic books. They also have pets. You can search and can find those individuals (don’t think you actually can in Facebook, but for arguments sake).

    I run a pet supply company/store that has a line of items that is geared towards pets (toys, clothes, etc) that has comic characters on it. Some licensed items.

    So folks here are arguing I’d be a fool to create an ad and target it towards those individuals that I can search for and are self-identified. Because that’s what’s being said over and over. “These people don’t purchase and these numbers are meaningless.” If that’s the case, and you real think I’d be a fool to run that ad campaign and market to those people, I really don’t have a response, other than “you’re wrong.”

    The fact is, the data I present (for free, many folks would charge a large chunk of money for this type work) is the exact type of data that is used every day to sell items, to expand markets, to talk to customers. Marketing and market research is a multi-billion dollar industry that clearly works, otherwise folks wouldn’t be spending the money on it.

    The fact that there’s such push back here is amazing to me. I call out the negative comments for what they are, trolls. When challenged they follow up with little or no response, other than a “belief” built on no evidence. Some say ignore and don’t feed the trolls. When it involves “fact” and it’s wrong, I call it out.

    I have used this data, and data like it, to sell products, to get people to sign up for things, to expand businesses, exactly like I’m proposing others try. Unlike the negative comments, I’m not pulling this all out of my ass. I don’t show case studies as one person suggested because most of my work is under NDA.

    The fact remains, there is little data as to who buys and reads comics. This is the closest thing we have to that. I never claim these are buyers or this is the entire market. I only claim these are individuals who have said they “like” comic related terms and thus have an affinity for comics. That’s exactly who marketers should be talking to first. If you don’t understand that basic premise, these posts are probably not for you.

  83. george says:

    Kurt B. said: “Women used to read a lot more comics from traditional comics publishers than they do now, and still seem drawn to the form outside those mainstream publishers.”

    Why did women seemingly abandon the traditional comics publishers? (I assume that means Marvel and DC, since Charlton, Gold Key and Harvey aren’t around anymore.) I assume it was more than just the demise of romance comics, or of teen humor books from anyone but Archie. Was it the increasing emphasis on superheroes — a trend that really grew when the direct market became dominant in the ’80s?

    I’d guess it isn’t JUST superheroes that drove women and girls from Marvel and DC, because females did read Wonder Woman in the ’40s, the Weisinger Super-books in the ’60s, and X-Men in the ’80s. Is there something about the way superheroes have been HANDLED since the ’80s that turns off a lot of women?

  84. Sarah says:

    I too am in complete agreement with David D’s assessment of staff/reader interactions here, really just perfectly put.

  85. I’ll assume none of these “Beat staff” complaints apply to me because nobody comments on my interviews with female creators. Still going to keep posting them, though!

  86. Miles Bregger says:

    “BUt what was the premise put forth here? simply that comics have a potential audience that is nearly 50% female”

    You don’t think the word “potential” ought to have figured into the headline somewhere? It reads very differently without it.

    “Brett’s research should be investigated and tested, of course.”

    But not questioned or called into doubt here, evidently.

    “If I get annoyed it’s because I’ve been hearing these kinds of tut tuts and selective readings and outright prejudice for my entire life as a comics fan, creator and journalist.”

    I’m admittedly curious as to which of the above comments can be pointed to as examples of “outright prejudice.”

    You folks put up a misleading headline, you got called out on it, and you responded by taking a page straight out of Chuck Austen’s book on how to fend off criticism. Read into the motivations of the commentators within this thread however you will, but that tick tick tick sound you’re hearing is the sound of your site being pulled off bookmark menus.

  87. >> Why did women seemingly abandon the traditional comics publishers? (I assume that means Marvel and DC, since Charlton, Gold Key and Harvey aren’t around anymore.)>>

    No, I meant traditional comics publishers, not just surviving ones. Dell was probably the biggest success in terms of broad appeal, but Archie is the last surviving traditional comics publisher to maintain a high female readership.

    >> I assume it was more than just the demise of romance comics, or of teen humor books from anyone but Archie. Was it the increasing emphasis on superheroes — a trend that really grew when the direct market became dominant in the ’80s? >>

    The increasing emphasis on superheroes was a response to audiences falling away, not the cause of it.

    >> I’d guess it isn’t JUST superheroes that drove women and girls from Marvel and DC, because females did read Wonder Woman in the ’40s, the Weisinger Super-books in the ’60s, and X-Men in the ’80s. Is there something about the way superheroes have been HANDLED since the ’80s that turns off a lot of women? >>

    People have made pretty solid arguments on that front, sure. But I don’t think superheroes drove readers away, I think superheroes were increasingly tailored to those readers who were left when other readers dropped off. And the reasons they dropped away are multiple — distribution changes, competition from other forms, lack of quality material for those readers, stuff like that.

    But the recurrent refrain that female readers just can’t be reached and comics should give up trying is a canard — given how thoroughly women are huge audiences for storytelling on other forms, for comics in other cultures and even in our own past (and embraces good comics published well and targeted to them just fine outside the direct-market mainstream, and support books like SANDMAN and FABLES even within it), it’s obviously not the case that women as a category don’t like the form.

    Many of them may not like much of what the major publishers are offering, but that’s not the same thing.

    kdb

  88. >> You don’t think the word “potential” ought to have figured into the headline somewhere? It reads very differently without it.>>

    You seem to be assuming that “fans” means “readers.” I think the article’s pretty clear that “fans” means “people who self-identity as comics fans.” Those people aren’t “potential fans,” they’re fans. They may not be fans buying stuff at present, but that’s not a claim the article makes either.

    The headline describes the article pretty clearly. It says that the research indicated that comics fans are nearly half female, and the article makes a case for that. If you want to read the headline as saying that the current comics buying audience is half female, that’s not a misleading headline, it’s a misreading of it.

  89. Miles Bregger says:

    Given the number of people who also seem to have “misread” the headline, it seems to me it’s meaning could have been clearer had it been worded differently. Yes, I did assume that a comic book “fan” is someone who actually buys the things and reads them. Just as I’d assume that “football fan” refers to someone who, you know, actually follows football, and not someone who MIGHT follow football if all the stars and planets were aligned a certain way.

  90. Mikael says:

    The article drops words and phrases such as “readership”, “female readership”, “comic book industry”, “audience”, etc. OF COURSE this is about the comic buying audience. No one is arguing JUST about the headline – they are arguing about the headline being misleading after reading the article (and after the author going in and “defending” it but only confusing the issue more).

    Can’t believe this even needs to be explained.

  91. >> Yes, I did assume that a comic book “fan” is someone who actually buys the things and reads them.>>

    I’m a Monkees fan. Haven’t bought anything by them in years. I’m also a fan of THE WEST WING and SPORTS NIGHT. And I know lots of comics fans who haven’t bought anything new in years, because they’re not offered stuff that’ll attract their dollars. But they’re still comics fans.

    But this, I think, illustrates why the Beatonics get frustrated about this sort of thing. They put up an article that’s about something, and there are then people who want to deflect and digress, so the conversation becomes about statistics (even if it’s on the level of “they didn’t survey me” or “some of the millions of data points are fake,” which are just dopey, dopey objections) or what the definition of “fan” is — and then people get angry if anyone tries to make the conversation not about these tangential things.

    It may be well meant. There may be more polite ways to deal with it. But given how often it happens when the general subject is women and inclusiveness, I’m not at all surprised at the frustration.

    I expect where we go from here is more argument about the definitions of things and why survey data is unacceptable if it’s not perfectly accurate and inclusive and how everything needs to be rewritten to each reader’s comfort level, and I’ll leave that side of it to others. But if people can’t see that whenever this kind of subject comes up, the response involves, consciously or unconsciously, unmeant or meant, a wave of No No No That’s Not True I Don’t Want It To Be True Talk About Anything Else, I think they’re missing the effect of the aggregate of these discussions.

    However well-meant their objections to this or that side-issue might be.

    kdb

  92. Mikael, I have reread the article and do not see anything you claim. I have had a lawyer read it, and can not find what you claim. The various definitions and how I use them are very clear and purposely laid out. Please directly quote what you claim.

    In an earlier comment, I also provided multiple definitions of “market research.” I am still waiting to hear how the article does not qualify for either definition.

  93. Mikael says:

    So you didn’t use the words “readership”, “female readership”, “comic book industry”, “audience”? I guess my computer must be adding those words to your article? LOL. Hilarious deflection.

  94. Fwiw this time I’m on the Beat’s side this time: there’s nothing wrong with reporting the indications of a hypothetical new readership, particularly one that may be more responsive to the comics medium than in previous periods. I would be surprised if there was no effect on the general population purely as a reaction to the greater accessibility to reputable graphic novels. To answer one of the questions posed above, it wasn’t quite that female comics-readers had nothing to read in the 80s and after. But you did have an increasing number of publishers orienting their lines toward a hardcore male readership, whether they sought to appeal with the slick pulp-fiction characteristic of First or the steroidal superheroes of Image. That orientation too made a difference, though I would agree that the mass readership for comic books had begun to drift even before the appearance of the DM.

    I will note that *some* of the over-sensitivity may have been encouraged by pundits who endorse radically remodeling the superhero genre to suit their agendas. But that wasn’t on display here.

  95. Mikael “So you didn’t use the words “readership”, “female readership”, “comic book industry”, “audience”? I guess my computer must be adding those words to your article? LOL. Hilarious deflection.”

    Quoting a “word” does not make an argument. Quoting in context how I used those words to “misdirect” everyone, as you claim, would win your argument. I asked you to directly quote from my article how I used those words and as I predicted, you:
    1) Reread the article and realized I did nothing what you claim
    2) Didn’t reread the article and double downed on your statement
    3) Are unfamiliar what “directly quote” means, so chose not to do the assignment.

    Since reading comprehension seems to be lacking, as evidenced by many of the comments here, I will directly quote where I use each of these words. Lets see if your claims hold water (to save everyone time, they don’t):

    “readership” – Direct quote: “While Alonso says Marvel doesn’t have hard numbers to back it up, that correlation, and Marvel’s wanting to expand their female readership (which I tracked at about 36.96%) explains their launch of new solo series for Black Widow, Elektra, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel as part of All-New Marvel NOW! and greater focus on female characters in other books too.”

    Cliff’s Notes version: Marvel wants to expand their female readership. They have launched numerous female lead comics and put female characters more in the spotlight. Facebook data would back this idea up as according to it, the majority of likes/fans of “female comic characters” are women.

    “female readership” – See quote and statement above, it only occurs there too.

    “comic book industry” – Direct quote ” To ensure a healthy comic book industry in the future, we need to know who makes up that audience today.”

    Cliff’s Notes version: Use data like I provided. Data is important.

    “audience” – Direct quote “Knowing who is buying what is vital for any modern day business. Understanding demographics allows you to better market your product to a greater audience, and sell similar products better. ”

    Cliff’s Note version: Knowing who is purchasing and/or interested in your product is important to find more individuals to sell your product too. This is known as marketing your product, and to do this you need market research. This is part of the conclusion of the article. It begins with an idea, that has real world action associated, and the data I have backs up that real world action. I showed how you can use one to inform the other.

    So Mikael, I see nowhere where I falsely lead readers or misdirected them. But, to also wrap up if this qualifies as “market research,” I again present its definition.

    Definition: Market Research
    1) the gathering and studying of data relating to consumer preferences, purchasing power, etc., especially prior to introducing a product on the market.
    2) any organized effort to gather information about target markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy.

    I can only conclude with this quote from Billy Madison:
    “…what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. “

  96. George, Kurt and Gene, the “flight” of the female readership I always wondered about. Any thoughts that it began with the negative perceptions of comics as a form of entertainment/worthy reading material perpetuated by the Senate Hearings in the 50′s?

    I always felt those hearings are what increased the marginalization of the entertainment medium, and didn’t help as it caused a shrinking of comic’s previously diverse subject material due to the comics code.

    Add that into general societal attitudes in what is appropriate activities of entertainment and activities, especially for women, at the time, is it a shock the results?

    Thank you for a good and worthy discussion based off of the original article.

  97. >> George, Kurt and Gene, the “flight” of the female readership I always wondered about. Any thoughts that it began with the negative perceptions of comics as a form of entertainment/worthy reading material perpetuated by the Senate Hearings in the 50′s? >>

    General readership was already dropping by then. I think it began when (a) comics started cutting pages to maintain the 10-cent price, unlike other magazines, rendering them less attractive to newsstands who’d rather devote the shelf space to higher-profit units and (b) the spread to the suburbs, away from newsstands, became a significant market trend.

    I think the whole Wertham flap did further damage to an already-damaged industry — you’ll note that similar negative perceptions didn’t kill off rock & roll, or even marijuana. If comics hadn’t already started to render themselves uncompetitive with their competition, I don’t think the Wertham thing would have been able to do what it did.

    What that did to female readership, I don’t know. The CCA dumbed down romance comics badly, and they were never well-written again, except in isolated flashes. And the distribution issues resulted in a slide for everything, which certainly affected funny animals, humor and such.

    I think, like most things, there were a variety of elements that combined to result in comics largely not being aimed at female readers, not being all that great when they were, not being readily available where women were shopping and not being promoted in a way that women would see. But it was a long process, just as the fading of, say, war comics was, too.

  98. >> Add that into general societal attitudes in what is appropriate activities of entertainment and activities, especially for women, at the time, is it a shock the results? >>

    Adding to this: I would bet that even at the height of the comics-are-bad-for-you craze and well into the Sixties, the female readership of things like WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES, LITTLE LULU, LITTLE DOT, CASPER, ARCHIE and so on was high, as a percentage.

    What killed of Harvey wasn’t “girls aren’t supposed to read comics.” What killed Harvey was the steep decline of the newsstand market and the lack of interest the direct market readers had in that material — the direct market, as it began and for years thereafter, was a very efficient way of serving committed hobbyists at the cost of reaching casual readers. And the committed hobbyists were superhero fans. Not monolithically male, but increasingly so as the genre was tailored further and further to loyalists.

    So I tend to think that distribution issues, starting in the late 40s and 50s (due to suburban spread and the ghettoization of comics to spinner racks, away from more profitable rack space) and reaching crisis in the 70s (when video games became a more profitable and easier-served use of floor space in convenience stores than comics racks) had a far more significant effect on the industry than many observers think, because Wertham and Senate hearings are flashier and more dramatic, and provide a villain. And we love easily-identifiable villains in this business, more than we do dumb executive decisions and unfavorable social trends.

    But I think the dull business stuff had a huge effect, and magnified the effect of other factors.

  99. Lorrie says:

    The search terms Brett used were too narrow. There is nothing on Facebook to indicate that I buy comics (exclusively digital after the prices drop or trades, but still). I’m a 30-something woman; I use Facebook to share pictures of my kids with friends and family and to occasionally argue about politics with strangers. I’m not sure I’ve ever even “liked” anything related to comic book movies/TV shows, although I’ve watched many of them. On the other hand, my brother and sister-in-law always seem to be posting about some comic book related movie or TV show, and he hasn’t bought a comic since he was a kid and I doubt she’s ever read one, and neither one is likely to start. They’re fans of comic book inspired media, not comic book readers (or even potential readers), as are most of people who like these things on Facebook.

    Marvel and DC probably do have more female readers than people assume (or potential female readers in those who already read comics, but not necessarily superhero comics), but I don’t think counting Facebook “likes” the way Brett did is a particularly good way to find out. Instead, find out what percent of women/girls still read fiction for enjoyment. Those who read books that have fantasy/sci-fi/action-adventure elements could be potential Marvel/DC readers if they found a way to market to them (and made an effort not to chase them off with sexist art). I’m pretty sure I “liked” the time travel/historical romance series “Outlander” at one point, and I liked a story about the upcoming “Outlander” TV series. Those likes aren’t comic book related, but a market researcher could view me also as a potential comic book reader because it indicates that I’m likely to read and I enjoy stories that require me to suspend disbelief.

  100. Brett Schenker says:

    Lorrie, in reality you’d want to do both in marketing. Use the likes I present as one conversation and then use other methods to find folks who might like something else but have an affinity for comic books. If I had to choose, I’d start with my terms, then eventually move to what you suggest.

    People like item x. People who like item x also have a higher percentage of liking product y. Therefore it is smart to market product y to people who like product x.

    Same idea as you and I present, just potentially different messaging between the two. It’d be similar to marketing the Walking Dead comic to folks who like the television show. This to me is an absolute if I were running that marketing program.

    The University of Cambridge did a study like you’re mentioning. It’s much harder to do, but not impossible. Here’s info on that study, http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/11/tech/social-media/facebook-likes-study/

  101. Mikael says:

    “Since reading comprehension seems to be lacking, as evidenced by many of the comments here…”

    Considering I was initially replying to Kurt’s comment (about the headline being the thing people were misreading) and not yours, I’d say you could lump yourself in on that condescending comment. :)

    But hey! Whatever you think will win people over to your “argument”.

  102. Silly but True says:

    Kurt B: “I’m a Monkees fan. Haven’t bought anything by them in years. I’m also a fan of THE WEST WING and SPORTS NIGHT. And I know lots of comics fans who haven’t bought anything new in years, because they’re not offered stuff that’ll attract their dollars. But they’re still comics fans.”

    And therein lies the entire disagreement. I think the definition’s shifted and is leaving people behind as new meaning is attained.

    I think there are traditional comic fans that were a recent constant. These people, I think, purchased monthly magazines. They very likely had subscriptions in the 70s and 80s, and probably shifted to comic shops at some point in the 80s and 90s. To these people, going to a convention meant buying books — finding that special deal for an issue that they were missing. People may have dressed up, but the celebrity con was really a big unattainable thing in San Diego. Maybe New York or Chicago.

    That’s not the same fan we’re talking about today.

    The Facebook fan might be someone who will never buy a monthly book at all. They may like the idea of a character. And might exhibit their fandom through cosplay. They may buy reasonably priced digests or collections periodically, or might ask for more expensive collections for their birthdays, if at all.

    I mean tapping into that market is probably a good idea.

    But it may not help monthly subscriptions at all.

    I think this might be a rather large disconnect in the discussion.

    Silly but True

  103. Brett Schenker says:

    @Silly but True

    “And therein lies the entire disagreement.” – If only that were the entire disagreement here. I feel like we’re debating what the definition of “is” is.

    I absolutely agree that in a digital age what a “fan” is has changed, there’s no doubt about that technology has shifted that.

    But, what I’m saying is, and trying to point out above, is that we can use that data to do outreach. Even if their interest is soft, they have still shown interest and are a captive audience you can easily identify and reach out to. Having done so for folks in the comic industry, and done so successfully, I think there needs to be more outreach using this type of data.

    There is also some data indicators online that back of recent decisions like Marvel’s expansion of female lead comics.

    And most importantly, what set off this post, there is in fact “market research” which Alonso said there was none.

    To me, a like indicates some interest and they want to hear what you have to say. They are most likely receptive to your idea/product, etc., and the first folks I’d reach out to when devising a marketing plan. To me it’s no different than what Amazon does when it recommends products, or credit card companies do when they offer you a card. They’re using existing past behavior that indicates a higher chance of future positive behavior.

  104. Brett Schenker says:

    @Silly

    To go back to your earlier post:

    “The problem is that there is a pretty wide leap for a company to go from a very generalized notion of **”Wow that’s a lot of people, more than what would seem to be actively purchasing. How do we reach them? How come they’re not more active?”** to go to **[spend real dollars on X]**. How much can they devote to such a gamble, and what do they spend it on?”

    I think that’s the discussion to have and that’s what companies need to decide. With a limited amount of time and money to devote to market their products, what’s the way to go about that? But, that’s what a lot of marketing is, figuring that part out. Testing things out. When you go through Google Ads or Facebook Ads, they constantly recommend to test things out. I’ve had ads succeed, and I’ve had ads fail. But overall, more succeed and you get better the more you do as you learn from past mistakes.

    But, the great thing is, with Facebook Ads and Google Ads, since the audiences are self-identifying and the buy-in is relatively low, you can take risks to find the formula that works for your company and your product.

  105. george says:

    Kurt B said: “The increasing emphasis on superheroes was a response to audiences falling away, not the cause of it.”

    Yes, the audience that was left when casual readers went away, starting in the ’70s and escalating in the ’80s, was the fan audience. And the fans overwhelmingly preferred superheroes to any other genre. I suppose Marvel and DC had to give ‘em what they wanted to survive.

    I can think of other comics that were said to have a substantial number of female readers: Dr. Strange (maybe because he always acted like a grown man instead of an angry adolescent boy). Daredevil, at least when Miller wrote and drew it. New Teen Titans, by Wolfman and Perez. The DC mystery anthology books of the ’70s. Sandman, as you’ve mentioned.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Dr. Strange has been regularly published since the late ’90s. I know it was never a big seller, but I wish it were still around, to provide an alternative to the same old Marvel musclemen.

  106. The Beat Herself says:

    Kurt: “What killed of Harvey wasn’t “girls aren’t supposed to read comics.” What killed Harvey was the steep decline of the newsstand market and the lack of interest the direct market readers had in that material — the direct market, as it began and for years thereafter, was a very efficient way of serving committed hobbyists at the cost of reaching casual readers. And the committed hobbyists were superhero fans. Not monolithically male, but increasingly so as the genre was tailored further and further to loyalists.”

    Okay now we’re on to a more interesting (to me) topic. It’s pretty clear that more girls were reading comics in the 60s and 70s than the medium gets credit for. But with the rise of the direct market, the industry was taken over by people coming out of superhero fandom who has a more narrow view of the medium, and the idea that girls didn’t like comics was part of that narrative.

    I still see much of that idea in this message thread. “Comics” does not mean JUST periodical comics, it means comic strips, webcomics, graphic novels, manga, and various hybrid forms. It’s a wider, more general medium, with DIFFERENT audiences and that is what we should all be happy for.

  107. Will Naslund says:

    “But what was the premise put forth here? simply that comics have a potential audience that is nearly 50% female, a higher percentage than any previous surveys have shown (DC purposely rejected a higher female readership figure in their New 52 survey, for instance).”

    Note that DC hired a real, legit research firm (Nielsen) that conceived and executed an authentic survey, complete with mechanisms designed to weed out bogus respondents (remember that fake ‘Nerak’ comic on their questionnaire?) — as a means of data collection, that’s much more meaningful than tallying up Facebook likes.

    Now, it might well be that the market for comics (as a whole), potential *or even actual*, might be close to 50% or it might be the 23% that responded to the DC/Nielsen survey. My anecdotal observations about con attendance, etc. aren’t all that different from yours, Heidi. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s close to a 60-40 split myself.

    The point that I (and many of the other dissenting commenters, as far as I can tell) was trying to make is that Brett’s numbers are based on a definition of ‘fan’ that is so expansive as to be essentially meaningless — that and that FB has so many bogus/multiple/otherwise suspect accounts on its membership rolls that it’s not a good source of raw data, at least w/o some major adjustments and/or countermeasures in place — something Brett apparently couldn’t be less interested in.

    I agree that if we’re trying to gauge the potential market for comics as a whole, not just DC, Marvel, etc. we should be looking at the success of stuff like the Hyperbole And A Half GN — so let’s do that. Per your own post of a few weeks back, it sold roughly 145K copies in 2013 (over around 8 weeks of release). That (not insignificant! I can’t think of too many independent creators that woyuldn’t be stoked to sell that many copies of a single comic and/or GN) figure is probably more representative of the potential market we’re looking at.

    Really, the sheer volume of the numbers Brett generated, and just how absurd they are given what we do know of the current market, is the main substance of my disagreement — the debate over how many people in that wholly bogus data set are women is largely beside the point. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, as you said, all the female-led titles in Wave 2 of Marvel Now! weren’t motivated at least in part by the gender breakdown of Comixology online sales figures.

    And just one more time, since it seems like anyone who thinks Brett’s bogus numbers are anything less than holy writ is apparently suspected of being some sort of woman-hater, I *like* most of these new Marvel comics. I have *pre-ordered* every issues of Black Widow, She-Hulk, and even (gasp) Ms. Marvel *to date*. I am *not* arguing that they should cease to exist — in fact, I’d be a little sad if they did. I’m not the enemy here.

    With all that said, 24 million is an absurd extrapolation of even what the potential market for comics should be, gender breakdown notwithstanding. When was the last time a single comic or GN even hit the 2 million copy mark in a single calendar year? Even the best , most expensive marketing campaign in the history of humanity wouldn’t move the needle *that* much.

    That’s why Brett’s methodology stinks like it does from a common sense perspective. Imagine, for instance, the following conversation on the next episode of ‘Shark Tank’, (or ‘Dragon’s Den’ for you Euros):

    Pitchman: I tell you, the potential market for my product is HUGE!
    Shark #1: Really, how many orders did you get in the last six months?
    Pitchman: Around 54,000*
    Shark #2: Get serious! That’s not huge at all. Doesn’t sound like a very good investment…
    Pitchman: B-but the general category my product falls into has garnered over 24 million ‘likes’ on Facebook — DON’T YOU SEE, WE CANNOT FAIL!!!!
    All Sharks: [derisive laughter]
    Shark #1: Get out.

    *Actual number of Walking Dead Part 1 TPBs sold in the first half of 2013.

    24 million is a frictionless, meaningless number and all numbers derived from it are similarly suspect. It’s a reasonable supposition that a good-sized segment of the current comics readership, and possibly even a bigger segment of the larger potential market, are women — and it would probably be a good idea for the comics industry/community to make some (more) stuff they could be rationally expected to like — but no way in hell, even in the rosiest of best-case scenarios is that market anywhere near 24 million strong. Comic publishers should try to reach out to new potential markets, but in a more targeted and thoughtful way, which will probably require more (and better) market research done by people not named Brett Schenker.

  108. Brett wrote: “I find it interesting the folks who have had positive comments are folks who understand/work in marketing, creators, women.”

    A quick scan of the comments shows both women and at least one creator with a marketing background who find your methods — or the language you use to prevent the data — flawed.

    Heidi wrote: “Okay now we’re on to a more interesting (to me) topic. It’s pretty clear that more girls were reading comics in the 60s and 70s than the medium gets credit for. But with the rise of the direct market, the industry was taken over by people coming out of superhero fandom who has a more narrow view of the medium, and the idea that girls didn’t like comics was part of that narrative.”

    And an expanded article/opinion piece on that is exactly the sort of thing I’d like to see more of here (along with more articles by Steve Morris, Laura Sneddon, Padraig O’ Mealoid, and the clone of Marc Oliver-Frisch).

    I’ve been a Beat reader since the PW days, and I usually agree with a lot of the undertones here, regarding gender politics in comics, etc. But I also agree with David D above. If fostering and inspiring discussion is your goal, it comes off as somewhat disingenuous to then cast anyone with a differing opinion or experience as a “troll”. That’s as maddening and unhelpful as the fighting between the FOX News and MSNBC tribes.

    My two cents.

  109. Will Naslund:

    >>>Note that DC hired a real, legit research firm (Nielsen) that conceived and executed an authentic survey, complete with mechanisms designed to weed out bogus respondents (remember that fake ‘Nerak’ comic on their questionnaire?) — as a means of data collection, that’s much more meaningful than tallying up Facebook likes.

    DC actually rejected the largest base of respondents—online—which has the largest percentage of female readers in favor of a much smaller sample—in store. It’s all in the report.

    The discussion here has mostly been over whether there are 24 million comics fans in the FB universe. I think we’ve all agreed that these are”potential” fans and not purchasers of Green Lantern.

    What the HEADLINE and the more newsworthy aspect of this data mining is, is that, as one site put it, one of the basic foundations of the current direct market industry — women don’t like comics— is not true and about 45% of the POTENTIAL audience is in fact female.

    The fact that Marvel and Comixology are acting on this same data (Marvel does a TON of sampling, they just don’t talk about it) shows that it is accurate.

    BTW most of Comixology’s readers are male, it is only NEW readers who have a higher female representation. If there is one data point that I see constantly being misread, it’s this one.

  110. You mean the Nielsen survey that even DC admitted was flawed? http://www.themarysue.com/rood-interview-dc-survey/

    And the survey they said: “The survey results are not a reflection of all comic book readers or the broader audience for graphic novels. This was a survey of consumers who specifically purchased DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 comic books, either in print or digital format.”
    http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2012/02/09/dc-comics-the-new-52-product-launch-research-results

    They survey of 6000 people conducted on a Wednesday where they badgered people to take it in some select stores? http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/09/28/patton-oswalt-says-goodbye-to-dc-comics-over-nielsen-surveys/

    The survey where they can’t decide if it’s 7% female readership or 23%, so they decided to announce 7 (for some insane reason).
    “But the other interesting statistic to our minds is this: in the online surveys, open to anyone who was familiar with and purchasing the New 52, women made up 23% of the survey population rather than the 7% polled in comic stores and through a survey only available to DC’s new digital-only customers.”

    That very flawed survey that they spent a massive amount of money on and could have been conducted using SurveyMonkey for free?

    I’ll take my method which is used by research organizations like Pew to conduct similar studies. Or used by tech folks to report on the ebbs and flows of Facebook’s population (which I am reporting a subset of, nothing more, nothing less).

  111. Paul Houston says:

    I would love to be working in the marketing dept. of one of the bigger comic publishers after seeing these statistics. If Marvel/Disney can’t figure out who to get out of their own way and attract this female market, then something is seriously wrong.

    I would be frothing at the mouth to be in Marvel or DC’s marketing dept. after seeing these statistics.

  112. OKay time to clsoe things down, but first here are the awards: To Lorenzo Linares the Early UNadapter Award for in the VERY THIRD post writing:

    >>>I am very skeptical of this facebook methodology.
    >>>Got to agree with that other guy, using likes on facebook or whatever to make this claim about supposed female fandom is dubious at best.

    Thus casting doubt on the female readership from the very start with unnamed doubts and mansplaining.

    Then comes Thomas Wayne with the Misdirection Award for
    >>>These Facebook numbers are so far off when it comes to translating them into comic sale it isn’t even funny.

    Thus cementing the reading of the headline as referring to sales figures and not demographics for those who wanted to argue something entirely different from what the post was aimed at.

    Then we have Mikael, with THe Best Straw Man Award
    >>>BTW – I’m a comics fan. And I don’t have “comics” liked on my facebook. So there. More skewed numbers.

    ….thus suggesting that one errant response would invalidate a survey of 24 million people.

    But the Jury Prize must be given to MiddleSkool says for a comment taht manages to hit every single outmoded idea that comics have struggled with for 30 years in one fantastic post.
    >>>>Did he write the headline or did you? Because this–”Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female”–is a LIE. Whoever wrote it is wrong.
    followed by this classic:

    >>>>“Listen up, Comics. If you want to put your marketing dollars to work in the best way possible in order to create new fans that give you money for your product, put respectable people reading comics on television and film. Put the new Ms. Marvel comic in Mayim Bialik’s hands on The Big Bang Theory during sweeps and have her say nice things. For all of his purported “fandom”, I’ve found ONE reference to Jerry Seinfeld actually reading a Superman comic on his show out of 172 possibilities. If I hadn’t found that solitary instance, I was ready to use him as the perfect example of someone that would “like” his comic book hero or publisher on Facebook yet would not actually read any comics.”

    …thereby ignoring the CONSTANT trumpeting of comics by nerdlebrities every day, from President Obama to Shia LaBeouf about how comcis are ok to read or write of plagiarize. Also using a 90s example when we have moved on people.

    FINALLY, the GRAND PRIX goes to Will Naslund for a beautifully crafted series of posts which misdirect, misstate and in general float all kinds of erroneous information. For instance:

    24 million what?!? Not people. In 2012 FB itself estimated that 9 percent of its users were fake. That number has grown since then. May of last year, it was estimated at 10 percent. It looks like their estimates now might be at 12 percent, of which 8 percent are multiple-accounts by same user.

    Although Brett refuted this, lets just restate it: if there are 10% fake people on FB, then unless EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM JOINED FACEBOOK TO PRETEND TO BE A WOMAN WHO LIKED COMICS, the percentage of fakes would be more or less evenly distributed among all the comics likers, making this point completely irrelevant.

    Now why do I get so hot and bothered about all this? Becuase the ide athat Women don’t read comics is a VERY DEEPLY INGRAINED ONE, even though you see women everywhere in public and online, reading and making comics. Yet recall this amazing anecdote about former DC publisher Paul Levitz who used something that happened in 1971 as a reason not to try marketing to women again.

    People in comics really like to hold on to their cherished ideas—like my own idea that a wider audience for comics will make it more profitable for everyone in the industry, ot Steve’s idea that Pixie will be the breakout Marvel character of 2014. What I’m asking you all to do is, for one moment, drop your shields, and open yourself to NEW ideas and NEW information. Our society has evolved radically from even 15 years ago thanks to social media, and new rules are being made every day. I may not be the newest kid on the block, but I’m trying to keep my eyes open. It’s the only way to survive.

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you’ve been reading the Beat you may have noticed a comment uproar over this post. This post was also picked up by an Italian comics news website, and i have to confess, even in the […]

  2. […] This month, Brett Schenker over at Graphic Policy posted a new statistic about women comics fans that’s causing a stir. Graphic Policy has been updating data, accessible via Facebook, for the past several months using data visualization with graphs and charts as part of their Facebook Fandom Spotlight series. Their project got a signal boost with Brett’s summary post on The Beat. […]

  3. […] industry, is the ongoing lack of gender diversity in mainstream super-hero titles. At a time when market research shows the industry’s readership to be almost half composed of women readers, a look through the list of monthly offerings presents very few comics featuring female leads, much […]

  4. […] last post concerning the Facebook demographics of those you “like” comic terms caused a bit of a […]

  5. […] was done and it is now considered an accepted statistic that 40% of fans are women. According to Marvel it’s actually quite a bit higher, 46.67% that are […]

  6. […] the students who sign up for classes are girls. But where. oh where, is the girls’ line? A recent survey suggests that nearly half the comic fans are now female, and quotes Axel Alonso, Marvel’s […]

  7. […] am not here to argue the point that there are women who read comic books and sci fi, women who play video games.  That is a foregone conclusion. But even with the news of […]

  8. […] comic book industry is also changing. According to a recent polling on FB (ew, yes, I know) 46% of the 24 million participating comic book fans are female. This year’s Emerald City Comic Con had a minority of men in attendance. Last […]

  9. […] as for comics, a survey in 2014 suggests that 46.67% of comic readers are women. Not a majority, but hardly a chunk you want to […]

  10. […] all day long. Comics themselves are largely written by men and marketed towards men, even though last time I checked, nearly half of all comic book readers were women. It’s a stereotype that’s hard to shake, the idea that women don’t like nerdy […]

  11. […] in comics is still a struggle on and off the page. Women are quickly approaching half of the comic reading market, but the number of female writers and artists still hovers around 13% of the entire industry. […]

  12. […] in comics is still a struggle on and off the page. Women are quickly approaching half of the comic reading market, but the number of female writers and artists still hovers around 13% of the entire industry. […]

  13. […] there are not any women who read American comics. One estimate says women may make up as much as 46% of the comic market. And, of course, there are many female creators and many female characters (who we like to write […]

  14. […] there's an old stereotype that comic book fans are predominantly male, but Brett Schenker of Comics Beat claimed the disparity is lessening. As of February, 46.67 percent of Facebook users who say they […]

  15. […] gaming, women have increased to a 48% share of the demographic (up 3% in only a year!) or that 46.67% of comic book readers are female, women in nerdy spaces are treated as an exception to the […]

  16. […] she sticks around—than a solo Black Widow movie would be. And given that nearly half of Marvel's current readership is female, we're long overdue for another female […]

  17. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra, and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  18. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra, and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  19. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra, and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  20. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  21. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  22. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  23. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  24. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  25. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  26. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  27. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  28. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  29. […] I didn’t write. This post by political communications specialist Brett Schenker entitled Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female from February, was pretty groundbreaking. Why am I mentioning a six month old post? Well, people […]

  30. […] they wish to send a direct message to girls and women who read their comic books. According to Comics Beat, approximately forty-seven percent of comic book readers are female. Marvel, however, expressed in […]

  31. […] research via Facebook, of the 24 million people who self-identify as comic fans, 46.7% are women (comicsbeat.com 2014). Go to any comic convention and you will see that female representation first hand. Marvel in […]

  32. […] that long was not the target for super hero comic books in America: women and girls.” With nearly half of Marvel’s readership being female, this isn’t a publicity stunt to diversify for a press […]

  33. […] diverse than it was a decade ago. Of the 24 million comic-book fans mentioned above, for example, 46% are […]

  34. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  35. […] with nearly half of self-identified comic fans claiming to be women, there will be many more milestones like […]

  36. […] on the specific type of media, female fans of games and comics currently make up anywhere from 40 to 55% of consumers, making them a very important part of geek culture and, ideally, the target […]

  37. […] una realidad: que niñas, adolescentes y mujeres, son un gran nicho de mercado. Y es que según Comics Beat, la fuerza femenina representa el 46% delfandom global. Además, el 62% de páginas de Facebook […]

  38. […] has encouraged more active interest among female fans. A recent report showed that 46 per cent of all people who self-identify as comics fans are female. Some of these fans may not buy current mainstream comics, but maybe they would if the companies […]

  39. […] company’s superhero comics line. Graphic Policy writer Brett Schenker recently conducted an informal study that showed that 46.6% of people who self-identify as comics fans on Facebook are female. […]

  40. […] Beat made an attempt to calculate the gendre split in comic fandom  (http://comicsbeat.com/market-research-says-46-female-comic-fans/), and their  survey concluded that 47% of comic fans are female. That’s me. I read comics. I’m […]

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    Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female — The Beat

  42. Sabido Cult says:

    […] interessante é a crescente quantidade de leitoras chegando a ser quase metade do público – cerca de 46,67 % – , e com isso se espera aumentar a preocupação das editoras em retratar de melhor forma as […]

  43. […] Beat made an attempt to calculate the gendre split in comic fandom (http://comicsbeat.com/market-research-says-46-female-comic-fans/), and their survey concluded that 47% of comic fans are female. That’s me. I read comics. I’m […]

  44. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  45. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  46. […] 62% of the Facebook fans of female comic characters (including Black Widow, Elektra and She-Hulk), according to Comics […]

  47. […] quoted statistics from Comics Beat, which found that "in February, the Facebook universe of self-identified comic fans grew to a new […]

  48. […] quoted statistics from Comics Beat[5], which found that “in February, the Facebook universe of self-identified comic fans grew […]

  49. […] narrow-minded comment really doesn’t do comics or their readers justice. It also ignores research that says the gender split of comic readers isn’t that large. Or consider this: more than […]

  50. […] narrow-minded comment really doesn’t do comics or their readers justice. It also ignores research that says the gender split of comic readers isn’t that large. Or consider this: more than […]

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    Market Research Says 46.67% of Comic Fans are Female — The Beat