Welcome back everybody to another awesome installment of Editorial Edits! This week I want to talk about something a little different, I want to talk about advertising in comics. Why? Well I think that advertising in comics presents an interesting problem for artists and editors, they have to plan stories around these immersion-breaking 3rd party pages, and this is accomplished different ways by different publishers. So without further ado, let’s get cracking!
The Advertising Dilemma
If you’re like me, you probably don’t even really notice the ads in your comics anymore. I give them maybe a cursory glance, say no more than a second unless it’s something interesting, and then continue on with my story. The only time it’s a problem is when it significantly impedes the flow of the story or the ad is in direct opposition to the emotional impact of the page.
There have been times when advertising has completely ruined some pivotal event in a story. The comic builds up to this awesome emotional climax and when you turn the page the first thing you see is a Skechers ad. Uncool. Really I wonder how much power editors have over where to place ads? Obviously they want to put them in spots where they’ll have the least impact on the narrative, which might mean that readers, not so engrossed in the story, may actually take more time to look at them. Oh man, this just got so much more complex!
A Brief Snapshot
Ok so let’s take quick look at the the amount and placement of ads in some recent comics. I only have access to a sample of my collection here at school but it should suffice to get an idea of how different publishers handle advertising. I’ve got eight books here and I looked at title, price, publisher, # of comic pages, and # of ad pages. I did not count the front and back covers as advertising, nor did I count letters from creators. I did count corporate newsletters as ads.
21 pages of comic
11 pages of ads sprinkled throughout
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #8
22 pages of comic
3 pages of ads at the end
What Do You Notice?
So what’s interesting about this little snippet of the recent releases (and not so recent with Fear Itself)? Well firstly publishers use advertising differently. Marvel and DC sprinkle advertising throughout their monthly books. The smaller publishers (in this example Archaia, IDW, Image) usually place advertising at the end so that it doesn’t interfere with the story. Obviously in those cases editors and creators don’t have to worry about ads interrupting their narratives.
What’s really interesting is that Marvel doesn’t always follow one prescribed formula. Take their Dark Tower adaptation, not a single ad to be found! Whether that has to do with Stephen King or some crazy licensing agreements I don’t know, but I definitely appreciate the ad-free experience!
We also have our special Fear Itself event, which had very little advertising in the story proper, I think there were only 2 within the 40 page conclusion, and then 23 pages of “comic,” advertising books spinning out of the event. I can only assume that the editors didn’t want to interrupt this awesome finale and decided to keep the advertising to a minimum throughout the tale.
Right now I’m not quite prepared to carry out a detailed analysis of advertising in comics, I’d really like to, but alas I just don’t have the time. What I would like to say is that it seems like editors from the Big Two probably have to account for advertising interrupting the narrative. The real question is how does that affect the composition of the stories? How do they decide when are where to put the advertising to lessen its impact?
All questions for another day!