Recently, The Wall Street Journal‘s Brian Steinberg did an article about product placement in comic books.

He mainly talked about Nike getting their “swoosh” in some Marvel comics as well as a Pontiac related comic book at DC Comics where a Pontiac Solstice will be almost a main character/prop in the book called Rush City.

There will be a pretty big promotional support from General Motors for this six issues series. The car will be an important prop just as the Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum was to the Dirty Harry movies. I never heard anyone whine about that. Thing is there has been some folks whining about product placement in comics.

Nobody loves comics as much as I do, but I just don’t see where the problem is. I think the more hands we can place comics in the better. The same goes for eyeballs. That’s the kinda stuff that makes our business expand not shrink. Even as a small kid I always knew that comics were a business. That’s why they charged me 12 cents for em’. I knew they weren’t free. They had to make money off these things so they could keep printing them. Trust me, today the printing costs are sky-high unlike comic book sales. Business has to be done.

Granted, I don’t wanna see Spider-Man in the middle of slapping The Shocker to go off on a dog and pony show that he is winning this fight because of his Nike boots. Even I will only go so far. But if Thor is sitting with Ben Grimm in a local tavern and they order a pitcher of Miller Beer by name, I’m not gonna get all Oprah on anyone.

I’m not saying comics aren’t an art form, but let’s be honest, it’s not like the Mona Lisa is hawking dental floss. (I’m sure they have used that in some ad) Just like anything else, moderation is the key. As long as you don’t have some chimps going over the top, then it doesn’t upset the boat.

The comic book industry is notorious for fighting any kind of change. Some people just like to argue I guess. Something that is brought up in this article is the mention that comic books are now for older readers? this is something that does ride on my nerves a little because this is not brand new stuff. Comics have been directing themselves to an older readership since the 80s. This is not news. This is also the reason sales aren’t what they used to be. A lot of fans turned pros, both business and creative, only seem to want to do comics that they want to read and they have forgotten about the younger readership. By younger readership I mean first through sixth graders. Don’t post up telling me about Gemstone, Archie and the manga publishers? I know they are out there producing comics for younger kids. The thing is we need a lot more doing it. Better yet, we need more doing right and with a little more aggression.

There has to be a mutation of the direct market and the mass-market. Possibly an a la carte method of buying? Some books deep discount and non-returnable, others less of a discount and returnable. Product placement right now is looking at an age group demo that comics already have. Young adult males. The bulk of comic book readership right now is males ages 25 to 55. The hard fact is there are more 35 to 55 reading comics than younger. I’ve said this before, when you’re in your local comic shop take a look around and see who’s in there. I know it varies from city to city and may not be that way in YOUR store, but I think you’ll see that there are more males 35 to 55 than you thought. Maybe others have been run out by elitist, coffee shop lovin’, all super-heroes suck, dressed in black t-shirt sales people?and I use the term sales people very loosely. I’ve run into a bunch of em as of late.

Product placement is a very small cog in the big machine that is broken. A lot of folks think the big fall of comics came after the false bottom 90s. Nope. That was a fad. We’re still crawling out of the crater-sized hole that was left in the late 70s when the direct market started taking over. At that time we needed what the direct market had to offer in a big way. But like a union if you have too much or too little it’s not a good thing.

We need to figure out a new system of selling, distribution, and marketing. This truck we’re driving isn’t dead; it just needs some work. Things can always be better. Nothing is perfect, never is. The job is to keep trying to make it perfect. The job is what is important.

I wish I had all the answers. Hell, I wish I had just a few. There are a lot of really good retailers out there right now that are fighting the good fight alone. We need more of em’. These guys run almost picture perfect models of what a great comic shop is. I’d love to see others follow their lead. If you’ve got a great retailer in your area, let me know. Send me their contact info. Let’s spread the word.

Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week

Josie Davis
– actress

She’s been in show business since she was a kid, but she’s no kid now. You’ve seen her in everything from Mortal Kombat, Beverly Hills 90210, Baywatch and even Charles In Charge. She’s in the upcoming movie Tranced with Busted Knuckles Hall Of Fame Babe Maria Conchita Alonso.

Josie Davis has that great all-American girl look and is always great in comedies PLUS she is also noted for having a pair of the best looking legs in Hollywood. Who’s in charge now?

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week

Scout #20 & Scout War Shaman #13
Eclipse Comics

You can’t get more manly than my testosterone twin and comic book alter-ego, Beau LaDuke-Real Man. Here are a couple of covers that my manly likeness graced back in the late 80s at Eclipse Comics. Beau LaDuke is a manly character that Tim Truman and I developed after my own manly self. It’s the ultimate ego trip and I’m always happy to ride it.

If you search through the back issues of Scout, Scout: War Shaman, and Swords Of Texas, you’ll find all sorts of manly tales of Beau LaDuke as he rides his giant armadillo, Delbert and passes out free knuckle sandwiches to those that hunger for it.

These two covers were done by Scout creator Tim Truman and Todd Fox. If you’re looking for good old fashioned head busting at it’s best then I suggest you find yourself some Beau LaDuke issues to make you feel like a Beau Clone.

Your Politically INCORRECT Cobb: Off The Leash Page Of The Week

With a little less than 10 days left (May 31st) until Cobb: Off The Leash #1 is in your local comic shops I thought I would entice you with two pages of advance art from issue #2 of Cobb: Off The Leash.

As you can see from the page with Russian Gangster, Yuri Ivankov, his attitude towards his terrorist “business partners” and those of the Muslim faith are not very PC. This is part of the brewing controversy that is starting to boil with the media since the advance review issues have been circulated.

There is also an action page to give you a small taste of the mayhem that is in store for you in the full throttle, high octane, testosterone driven issue #2 of Cobb: Off The Leash. Put your order in now with your local retailer. This one may just sell out.

Let’s Make Some Dust

That’s it for this week’s Busted Knuckles. As always I look forward to your emails and packages. I hope you were entertained or informed in one way or another. I wanna thank all of ya that wrote in about my eye surgery. That was very kind of ya. It all went well and the doc had fun playing Space Invaders in my eyeballs. I’m back to my babe ogling best!

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo,WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin