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WAITING FOR TOMMY - COMICS ACTIVISM
By Richard Johnston

That's three amongst hundreds. Will Eisner's The Name Of the Game, Y The Last Man, Transmetropolitan, Gemma Bovery, etc etc. I reckon I'll be revisiting that point. And that 'kids comics' thing. Despite Joe Quesada's occasional oddities on the subject, comics aimed at kids, not just those aimed at teens -- which kids want against their parents' better nature -- are a good thing. But they'll take time to establish themselves. Gus Beezer from Marvel sold terribly in pre-orders. but for those shops who did keep it in stock, it's proved a perennial seller. If only they could get some more. I hear Shelley Bond at Vertigo is starting up a kids line. bizarre I know, but then L'il Endless is still a book in much demand. Everything changes.

As part of the HE READS COMICS mock adverts I ran a couple of weeks ago, I was inundated with comments, many in praise, many who thought I'd clearly lost it. Not showing the comic? Not showing the celebrity reading the comic? Not saying that comics are great? Wasn't I meant to work in advertising or something?

There were some other versions of those HE READS COMICS posters from other art directors, before I went for the black and white graphic shot (and no comics) - they were also refreshingly clear of comic imagery to give the piece a non-geeky, non-self-obsessed feel.

Not everyone agrees though, and here are some other fine submissions during that period.

Arune Singh, of Comic Book Resources, wrote in some detail with a proposal:

You can find anything in comics. The basic slogan is either:

"It's all in Comic Books."

OR

"Comic Books. We've got that too."

or

"Comics got them/him/her/it [depending on the pic] too."

So the ads would look sort of similar to yours, but emphasize not the stars, but the PRODUCT themselves. I see the reasoning in your stuff and I LIKE it a lot, except that at times I was reminded of the old AIDS ads from DC comics in the 80's.

Still, awesome work.

I'd follow a similar format.

Text Image text

Example: Let's say we're advertising the Fantastic Four before Mark Waid left:

Top Text: "Sex Appeal With Your Science Class." Image: Shot of the FF Bottom Text: It's all in Comic Books (or whichever slogan). Buy the FANTASTIC FOUR monthly from Marvel Comics wherever you buy comics.

I do like the "Comic Books. We've got that too" slogan a lot, but the first slogan is so succinct and says it all. I think it's a good way to advertise non superhero stuff like Sandman.

"The stuff dreams are made off. Literally." [Shot of the The Endless] It's all in Comic Books. Buy the SANDMAN collections from DC/Vertigo wherever you buy comics.

I dunno man, I think this is something good... it just speaks to me.

Or I could be off base.

One of my favourite advertising analogies is selling a power drill. Now you can show off the drill, it's various bits, the design, the weight, the speed and you may do a fine job. And you'll get all the drill techies buying in to it, maybe a little spill-off into people who are only slightly interested in drills. But once that market's been tapped, your drill sales are going to plummet.

So why not advertise the hole? The hole made by the drill. Is it a fine quality hole, will it take a screw, what can you do with the holes, why are the holes better than holes from other drills.

You advertise the benefit, not the product. In the HE/SHE READS COMICS campaign, the benefit is success, admiration and insight. Not how cool Batman looks. As I said at the time, the immensely successful Playstation 'Nipples' ads, advertise the excitement and edginess of gaming. Not a shot of a screen or the machine itself.

As to the similarity to DC AIDS ads, I don't recall those. But hey, retro's in didn't you know?

I also received questions as to how this idea might work on other media. And concerns that the campaign was too generalised, not specific enough, and dammit, shouldn't there be a comic in there somewhere? Oh and the assumption that this would work great anywhere except on radio, because of course, you couldn't show the comic on the radio. Not that I was showing it in the poster, but hey.

Still, maybe I can throw a sop to the crowd and actually mention something about the comic in question. And one link I'd been sent showed that Keanu Reeves is a bit of a fan of Wolverine.   

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Continued Here...

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