mage: Marvel Comics. Art by Meghan Hetrick.

Marvel Comics suffered from declining sales in 2016, which could be driven by any number of potential factors. But in an interview with the trade magazine ICv2, the company’s Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel, identified one potential culprit: The increase of female characters:

I don’t know if that’s a question for me. I think that’s a better question for retailers who are seeing all publishers. What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.

We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.

This makes perfect sense—remember the uproar among meatheaded man babies crying that the all-female Ghostbusters reboot had single-handedly destroyed their childhoods?

But Gabriel quickly learned to regret that quote, and later clarified that it wasn’t that people weren’t excited about new characters like Spider-Gwen and Moon Girl, so much as they feared that the “core Marvel heroes” were being abandoned. Honestly, David, it’s OK. I have no doubt your original assessment was spot-on. People are shitty. People—sorry, men—literally refused to vote for Hillary Clinton because she was a woman. They’re the worst!

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Regardless of how the crappy public has received the new heroes, Gabriel insisted that they are here to stay:

“And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.

“We have also been hearing from stores that welcome and champion our new characters and titles and want more! They’ve invigorated their own customer base and helped them grow their stores because of it. So we’re getting both sides of the story and the only upcoming change we’re making is to ensure we don’t lose focus of our core heroes.”

[h/t The Cut]