In the past two weeks, the decline in Marvel sales have been blamed on diversity (See Is Diversity Killing Marvel Comics), and the systemic flaws in the industry (See The Kryptonite of Comics Sales). A new post from Creators.co suggests that that the sales dip is coming from the highest levels of the company.
A writer using the name Wally West suggests that the choices made by people like Kevin Feige, the talent of the current writers pool and the scourge of event fatigue are pushing people away. While I agree with the impact of events, the other explanations don’t seem to stand up to scrutiny.
First, while Feige is guiding the film universe, I don’t know how much impact he has over the day to day workings on the publishing side. From what I understand based on my time at Marvel, the two jobs are very different. Axel Alonso, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort and the other senior editors shepard the comic universe. The long term goals and needs of Marvel Studios and Disney probably play a role in the overall direction of the Marvel Universe, but I don’t think Kevin Feige has the time or the interest to read the upcoming scripts for Silk or Thunderbolts.
Second, the talent of the current writers pool isn’t lacking. Proven talents like Waid and Bendis are still writing for Marvel and celebrated writers outside of comics like Coates and Gay have come on board. It could be argued that the forced cross pollination from events hamstring even the best writers. We can suppose that a great novelist might not be the best comic writer, but that doesn’t explain the sales slump.
A lot of people can point to a lot of reasons behind the current rise of DC and the decline of Marvel in the comics market, but not every theory stands up to scrutiny. The more useful exercise, especially for independent comics creators, is to analyze and learn from what happens to the Big Two and apply those lessons to their own properties. If you learn from the mistakes of others, you don’t have to waste time and money making them yourself.
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