Why Are Marvel Comic Sales Down?

Recently I have been monitoring the message boards and blogs about the drop in sales of comics in general and especially Marvel sales. Many people blame the drop in Marvel sales is because of the direction they are going by abandoning the classic characters and becoming more diverse in story telling. The classic Marvel heroes have been primarily white and not of color, so their efforts are to introduce more people of color like Miles Morales (Spider-Man) and Riri Williams (Ironman). While that may have been the perception in modern times it is not fair to put that on Stan Lee or other early Marvel writers who introduced the first black superhero Black Panther and the very popular black hero Luke Cage. They have been on the cutting edge of diversity from the start in the sixties.

Stan supported using comic books to provide some measure of social commentary about the real world, often dealing with racism and bigotry. He influenced the change in the Comics Code which permitted negative depictions of drugs, among other new freedoms for comic creators. For the most part the modern version of Marvel has not changed in that. I think these people who are upset are influenced by their own prejudice and do not accept the fact we are a very diverse nation. There is a natural progression in life and there should be in the comics also. All the heroes from the sixties can’t remain in their 20’s and 30’s and people die.

Estimated Overall Sales of Comic Books, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines from Diamond Comic Distributors
Estimated Overall Sales of Comic Books, Trade Paperbacks, and Magazines from Diamond Comic Distributors

A look at the actual sales for the last three years tells the story and shows Marvel still in the lead in cash sales with a slight tightening of unit sales between Marvel and DC. 2017 sales for the January and February have dropped slightly from last year but at the end of the year could still show a greater number of sales from last year. The price of comics I am sure influenced the titles that a comic budget can purchase every week. Many DC titles are $2.99 and Marvel titles remain $3.99 for regular comics. The fact that DC Rebirth titles are very popular at this time and many of them sell twice a month make a comic buyer careful on which publisher he purchases from at the present.

Comic Books Ordered by Comics Shops in North America (in units)
Comic Books Ordered by Comics Shops in North America (in units)

Interest change and stories change and there may be a time ahead like in the late 90’s when sales really dropped off and Marvel filed for bankruptcy but the comic market is still very strong and should rebound from a slight downturn soon. Marvel still has new comic projects coming out soon and could turn it around this year. The comic talent knows what people like or will soon find out to preserve their own existence.

Comic Books Ordered by Comics Shops in North America (in dollars)
Comic Books Ordered by Comics Shops in North America (in dollars)

As long as people have extra money to spend on entertainment comics will sell in some form. Superheroes stories are not going anywhere and there is still plenty of talent to produce a good visual product. Marvel will prevail and people will read comics. People want to be entertained and once hooked on comics it is hard to quit. Comic books mirror society itself for the most part and many people don’t like what they see in real life and don’t want to be reminded in the comics.

Popular culture or pop culture is the entirety of attitudes, ideas, images, perspectives, and other phenomena that are within the mainstream of a given culture. If you don’t see what you want in the culture then change it but without prejudice or hatred. Live and let live and appreciate the differences or diversity in life. Stay tuned comic faithful for more. 🙂 Walt