Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Michael Deeley and is as follows: “Why don’t Marvel or DC (or anyone else) advertise comics on television? DC has two original series running on Cartoon Network, plus comics based on a half-dozen other cartoons; Marvel has X-men Evolution and the movies. Is it purely a question of cost?”

Michael David Thomas:

I think it’s a question of value and effectiveness rather than cost.

For the money that they would lose in revenue from advertising their own books (Time-Warner’s companies I mean), the value of that advertising would have to be extraordinary. I don’t know the figures for what the value of a 30-second spot aired 4-6 times a day for a week. But you have to be reaching into the low hundred grand region easy. That’s for one book. So, do you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an issue or a title which would not make that back even in two years or so? And what’s the effectiveness of that advertising? Will those spots bring back comic book buying to the million copy mark it was a little over a decade ago? Think about this; you’re trying to convince someone who’s plopped down in front of their tube to get up from the easy convenience of a TV, walk down to the comic book store and PAY for something close to what they were watching for free. It just doesn’t make sense, either from a financial or common sense point.

And then imagine Marvel, who doesn’t have a parent company with media ties, trying to do the same thing without that connection.

The question we need to ask is not whether TV or movie advertising will help sales, but why were comics selling such high numbers in the first place and how can we get back to that point? Work smarter, not harder and I think we’re going to be close.

Michael David Thomas works at Dark Horse Comics, trading hats between front desk reception, lettering and proofreading.

Rob Williams:

I know that 2000AD invested a fair amount of money in a British TV ad a few years back, I think to coincide with the release of the Judge Dredd movie, and their sales figures didn’t change despite the financial outlay.

I’m not saying that TV ads wouldn’t work but I think we all know that most comics don’t make an immense amount of money, and TV ads are very expensive, so I suppose it’s tough for companies to justify them.

There’s also the fact that, even if a non-comic reader saw a TV advert for, say, the new Spider-Man comic on TV and wanted to buy an issue as a result, how would he get his hands on one unless he knew where his local comic shop was? Comics aren’t available on every street corner the way magazines are, unfortunately.

Rob Williams is the writer of Cla$$war for Com.X, Family for the Judge Dredd Megazine, a bunch of stuff for 2000AD, including the upcoming Low Life, and Star Wars Tales for Dark Horse.

Bill Rosemann:

Yep, it’s the cost. TV commercials are incredibly expensive…and most comic book company marketing budgets are incredibly small. Clip and save this one, kids! Now, the next time someone asks this question at a convention panel, you can hand them the answer!

Bill Rosemann is the Vice President of Publishing at CrossGen, and is still the friendliest man in comics.

Alonzo Washington:

I think the big two (Marvel & DC) see their TV shows, movies & cartoons as commercials. Therefore, why waste money? The mass media gives the public its idea of super heroes. Most independent comic book companies don’t have TV shows, movie deals or cartoons. Some luck up and get a deal. Although, that means nothing to the big two. They have had these deals for decades. They define what a super hero is by these deals. If you watch their media you will most likely buy their comic books & toys. Why advertise? The media deals are the commercials.

Alonzo Washington is the creator of Omega Man and a noted black rights campaigner

Alan Grant:

Yes. I doubt if the average US comic makes enough profit to be able to pay for a single prime-time TV ad each month. (Of course, this needn’t deter the companies from running ads that feature selections from their titles.)

Having a hit movie or TV series doesn’t necessarily mean the comics companies see much of the loot. In DC’s case, it’ll show as profit for Warners, not DC. Comics like “Wonder Woman” which reportedly make a loss continue to be published as a “platform” for toy and other merchandising, worth tens of millions each year.

Alan Grant is maybe most famous for his Batman and Judge Dredd work, and his classic EPIC series The Last American is due out imminently from Com.X as a trade for the first time.

Donna Barr::

I have no clue. Except our industry is always ahead on publishing — and squat last on advertising.

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once.

Mike Collins:

British comics often include TV ads in their launches. I assume that the folks at the companies have number-crunched and figured it’s not worth it in the States. That said, a brief note at the end of Smallville, X-Men Evolution or JLA would do wonders for raising the profile of the comics these shows are based around. I swear there are folks out there who think comics stopped being printed years ago. We need to yell out that we’re still here!

Mike Collins has worked on many properties, including Batman, the Transformers, Captain Britain, Dourdevil and Judge Dredd.

Fiona Avery:

It’s almost totally a question of cost. It’s extraordinarily expensive to run an ad on TV and the question then becomes, well, which book do you actually then show? When you have a ton of books that you want to push, that becomes even more difficult.

Fiona Avery plays in the Marvel Universe, with Wildstorm at DC, and is the creator of No Honor.


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