Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say“BLAARGH!“
A while back I was flipping through an issue of the New Yorker and I came across something incredible. No, not Thacher’s bookmark. It was an ad for the Vertigo comic American Vampire. I’ll let that sink in for a second. An ad. For a comic. In something completely unrelated to comics. It totally blew my mind, and for the life of me I can’t recall the last time I’d encountered such a thing. You see, lately comics have been labeled a dying industry. Whether you agree with that or not, the fact is that less people are reading comics than in previous years, and publishers, especially the Big Two, have become obsessed with the elusive element known as “new readers.” Yet they seem incapable of putting out advertising anywhere other than the comics themselves.
As a comic reader, I’m well aware that Batman is setting up other heroes to protect their countries in Batman, Inc. Ads and previews have been plastered around other DC comics and various comic related web-sites. And that’s it. How would someone who might be interested in getting into comics, who might totally dig the idea and want to check it out, even hear about it? They probably wouldn’t. The lack of advertising done by DC & Marvel in other outlets is staggering. Especially with DC falling under the Warner Bros. umbrella and Marvel now being owned by Disney. You’d think their parent companies would care enough to run some print articles or television spots or something.
But perhaps the most egregious lack of advertising concerns the recent popularity of superhero films. That Thor poster up there is great, but would it really be too much of a bother to add a small “Thor’s adventures continue monthly in Marvel Comics!” blurb down by the credits? If stuff about novelizations and soundtracks can be included, why not the source material as well? Secondly, is there a more captive audience than movie patrons waiting for the film to start?While we used to just have previews of upcoming films, now we’re bombarded by ads for soft drinks, cars and even freaking laundry detergent. So why can’t comic films distributed by Warner or Paramount (and later Disney) attach short trailers touting printed comics? I realize this might be impossible for comic movies from other studios, like the X-Men over at Fox, but when the distributor is working hand-in-hand with the publisher, it seems like an obvious thing to do. How about a thirty second spot featuring images from Ed Brubaker’s run shown before Captain America? Or one spotlighting Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern work before that film? They don’t even have to be recent comics; good introductory books like Batman: Hush could be promoted before the next Batman flick so as to bring in new readers.
The bottom line is that there needs to be comic advertising outside of the comics themselves. I want to see an ad for Fables in some literary magazines. An ad for Morning Glories in Entertainment Weekly. A TV spot for Ultimate Spider-Man. I want young girls to see an ad for Birds of Prey in Seventeen. Because if something isn’t done soon, there might not be anything left to advertise.