The PR department of Marvel Comics is doing its best to duck, dive, and dodge the media storm that has been brewing since ICv2 reported on what occurred during the 2017 Marvel Retail Summit. Unfortunately, Marvel isn't that good at dodging "wrenches" (i.e. disparaging comments) thrown by its own executives.
Some of the wrenches thrown by Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonzo included the statement that artist aren't that important when it comes to selling comics. Below is the full statement made by Axel about the limited impact that artist have on comics.
There are fewer artists that impact sales than there are writers, and they’re harder to promote. It’s harder to pop artists these days. There is no apparatus out there. There is no Wizard Magazine out there that told you who the hot top 10 were. We don’t have that anymore. We can hype our artists all we want, but I don’t know if we know how many artists, besides maybe McNiven and Coipel, absolutely move the needle on anything to be drawn.
In a few, short sentences Axel basically told his artists that they aren't important when it comes to selling comics.
Axel Alonzo Would Rather Be Selling Books
I'm sure Axel doesn't need to be reminded that comics are essentially sequential pieces of art, and that the artists employed by Marvel account for roughly 50 percent of the work that goes into creating a visually appealing comic.
Look at the cosplayers, the market for variant covers, merchandise sales, etc., these are all things that are related to comic book art. When was the last time you saw a cosplayer dressed like a comic book writer? When you go to buy a variant cover is it because of the story inside, or is it because of the person who drew the cover? How many t-shirts, coffee mugs, action figures, etc. have you seen plastered with a writer's face on them? The answer to all these questions is "no" or "none."
Fans love comics because they provide escapism through a combination of beautiful art and great storytelling. The artist is just as important as the writer.
We Need Wizard Magazine? Really?
Back before the dawn of the internet, Facebook, and Twitter, comic book fans bought Wizard Magazine to stay in touch with what was going on in the comic book industry. Columns were written about what issues to buy, who were the top talents in the industry, and other various factoids.
Wizard Magazine was your one-stop-shop for all your comic book news; however, as the popularity of social media increased and online comic news sites grew, Wizard Magazine became obsolete. Why pay for something you could get for free? Not only that, now you could follow your favorite artists and writers more intimately through Facebook and Twitter. Amazingly, you could actually talk to them without waiting for the letters page to be published.
Now more than ever fans are connected to their favorite artists and writers. Fans don't need Wizard Magazine to "pop" an artist. Artists are their own advertisers by sharing their artwork and thoughts through social media.
Why Downplay The Importance Of Artists?
It would appear that Marvel likes to downplay the importance of artists because it doesn't want to experience another mass exodus like when Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, and others left Marvel to start Image Comics. As Stan Lee once said, "With the absence of great artistic ability, comes great revenue losses." He actually didn't say that, I'm just putting my own spin on his Spider-Man mantra, "With great power, comes great responsibility." In a way, Axel should consider the Stan's Spider-Man mantra before speaking disparagingly about those that help with Marvel's success.