ryan-franks-bio-picIn a previous article I talked about NPR’s coverage of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being on the cover of Civil War Two: Choosing Sides #5 and how it seemed more like a Marvel PR stunt then official international news. This led me to wonder why comic books are so terrible at selling themselves.

I can remember the first time I saw a television commercial for a comic book. It was about five years ago while watching Doctor Who reruns on BBC America. There was a commercial promoting Fables, a DC/Vertigo comic about how the Grimm Fairy Tales characters are adjusting to life in the 21st Century. I read the first twelve issues, but there wasn’t enough momentum in the plot to keep me interested. I’ve heard it gets better in its third trade, but I wasn’t ready to invest any more time or money at that point.  My personal opinion of the promoted material aside, it was the first and last time I’ve seen any effort from a comic book company promoting their own material.

It’s not that publishers don’t promote their books; I’ve just never seen them promote anything to people outside of the existing comic book community.  They promote their toys, push the cartoons, advertise their television shows and boost the films. The one thing you almost never see is any publicity for the actual comic books. The very thing all these other things originated from.
You’d think that with all the TV Marvel and DC do they could afford to allocate some air time to promoting the comic books their shows are based off of, but I’ve not seen any evidence of that. I mainly watch the Marvel based stuff, though I will occasionally check out an odd episode of Teen Titans Go, but none of those programs inform the public to what Marvel and DC publish. This really needs to be done by Marvel and DC since they’re both part of entertainment juggernauts that have the money to throw around to promote their material.

I assume they assume that the films and TV will get people interested enough to find this material themselves. Maybe this works and maybe it doesn’t. It was announced on Sept. 19 that Diamond Comic Distributors sold 10.26 million comics in August 2016. This is the highest number of comics Diamond has sold since 1996, a twenty year high, but from what I hear from the local comic shops, they’ve been cutting back quite a bit lately. This isn’t super surprising since in July of 2016 the comic market was down 5.39% (statistics from comichron.com). DC’s Rebirth marketing push seems to be the big reason for this sudden blast is sales. Which is good and bad: good because the market can announce to the world that it’s the healthiest it’s been in decades; bad because those numbers aren’t going to stick around. Five years ago DC’s big marketing push was the New 52. Great early numbers, but it soon dropped off when most of the titles couldn’t keep an audience.

That being said when the publishers don’t step up it’s up to the retailers to do their job for them. So, I’ve seen commercials from some of the local comic book dealers. Both Have Fun Collectables and Mellow Blue Planet have produced commercials for their stores to attract new and lapsed readers and from what I’ve seen it works. I haven’t seen a Have Fun commercial in some time, but Mellow Blue Planet I see commercials for every week, because they advertise on Midnight Mausoleum on Channel 8 and 8.3 every weekend, a lovely piece of local entrepreneurial teamwork.

Also, if you get the chance, check out this comic which I’ve been looking forward to promoting: http://bit.ly/2cLXf2h, Battle of the Xybermorphs #1, Price: $2.99. It hits stores on Sept. 21. Here’s a plot summary: All Derek and company wanted to do was get some parkour practice in at a local park, but what they got instead was mayhem. Derek and his friends discover a device that may drag all of them into  an intergalactic war that can change the very fate of the planet. Who is watching from the shadows while all these events play out, and what change might they have on the course of human civilization?

That’s all for this week! See you again soon!

Ryan Franks has been into comics for as long as he can remember. He first started collecting back in 1993.It didn't become an obsession until 2009, but still remains one...