Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants

Thor’s Sales Record is Evidence that Diversity in Comics is a Good Thing

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Thorcover

You don’t say. Well, it should go without saying, but that hasn’t always been the case.

I’ve previously written about the importance of gender diversity for making comics accessible to a broader range of readers. Without having to rehash a lot of that, here’s some empirical evidence that shows that not only does gender diversity seem to morally be a good thing to have in comics, it also seems to have notable financial benefits.

When Marvel announced last year that Thor was going to be relaunched as a female, there was—to put it extremely mildly—backlash from some pockets of the fandom that Marvel was just pandering, or that it was trying to be too politically correct, or that the franchise was doomed. Of course, this is a story about a fictional universe where there’s nothing that says race or gender can’t be fluid, or that characters have to be (vaguely) human, or anything like that, so go figure.

Best. Response. Ever.

Best. Response. Ever.

Well, here’s something interesting: According to sales information from Comichron, the first four issues of Thor since the comic’s relaunch in October has outsold the four most recent issues of male Thor’s last standalone comic, God of Thunder, by nearly 20,000 copies (not including digital sales). More starkly, Thor #1 sold 150,862 copies when it debuted in October last year (and ranked #3 for that month in sales), whereas Thor: God of Thunder #1 sold 110,443 copies and ranked (#10) at its release in November 2012.

If numbers aren’t your thing, Fusion.net also offers this information in a nifty chart:

Source: Fusion.net

It’s important to note that this is only information about sales; there’s no information about audience breakdown and whether the Thor reboot is actually bringing in more female readers. That said, who is buying them also won’t give us all the relevant information anyway; if a father buys a comic book for his daughter, then the buyer and reader demographics are changed differently. However, it’s clear that Thor is outselling her predecessor by a lot. Even comparing the latest figures for each series, Thor #5 sold over 20,000 copies more than Thor: God of Thunder #25 in February and September 2013 respectively.

It’ll be interesting to see if this trend in sales follows for other characters who have been rebooted as members of historically underrepresented groups in comics. Insofar as people vote with their wallets, this is actual, empirical proof that there is support for diversity in comics, and that the Marvel franchise isn’t going to up and die just because a character isn’t a white dude.

Take that, naysayers.

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