Comic book readers are apparently not fans of progressive politics—a fact no more evident in Marvel’s decision to cancel every single one of its comics that has been nominated by the LGBTQ advocacy group, GLAAD.
In December, the publisher announced its decision to cancel many of its comics, citing poor sales. LGBTQ, feminist, and social justice-themed comics involving stories that revolved around Black Lives Matter, illegal immigration, and LGBTQ issues were among those to end up on the chopping block.
At a New York Comic Con panel in October, Marvel executives faced tough questions from retailers who complained about the company’s social justice push, with poor-selling products that took up valuable inventory space on store shelves.
As has been the case with these sort of cancellations in the past, it’s not difficult to understand the why of Marvel’s decision. The publisher is, above all else, in the business of making money, and if certain comics don’t sell, it makes sense to cut them. At the same time, though, it stings a little to see all of Marvel’s comics with queer leads up for awards like this—and it makes you wonder what might have become of the series and their sales numbers if they’d been given a chance to continue after this sort of high-profile nomination.
The lineup, which was announced yesterday, includes “America,” featuring a teenage Latina girl named America Chavez, whose stories revolve around her life as a queer immigrant in college. The comic’s author, Gabby Rivera, is an outspoken “Latinx” writer who goes on periodic rants about “sexism,” “antiblackness,” and President Trump on social media.
Another GLAAD-nominated comic to get the axe is “Black Panther: World of Wakanda,” written by feminist and “body positive” activist Roxane Gay, and black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose other comic, “Black Panther & The Crew,” was also canceled earlier in 2017 following dismal sales.
Sina Grace’s “Iceman,” which reimagines the classic character as a gay man who “comes out of the closet” later in life, was also canceled in December. According to the author, the comic was a “hard sell for retailers.” ComicChron, which collects comic book sales figures, reported that “Iceman” sold around 15,000 comics when it first launched in July—a figure that decreased by almost 30 percent by the end of the year.
None of the three titles managed to break past the top-100 rankings, selling a fraction of Marvel’s own “Star Wars” lineup, and DC’s “Batman,” “Justice League,” and “Suicide Squad” comics.
Aside from DC’s “Batwoman,” which showed relatively poor sales throughout 2017, the rest of the comics that picked up nominations from GLAAD are largely published by BOOM! Studios, selling fewer than 3000 copies each month—a far cry from DC’s “Doomsday Clock,” which sold 158,000 copies in December.
The Marvel titles on the awards slate have been widely derided on social media for being hamfisted, sociopolitically-charged drivel.