Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

May 28, 2015

DC Experiments With Return To Partial-Page Ad Placements

I guess between this story by Bleeding Cool a week or so ago and this story by Alexander Lu earlier today derived from a freelancer's tweeting of photos of an example, we know that DC Comics is going to attempt half-page ads that are placed within the flow of a comics story. I guess the mechanism -- and no doubt the the source of the original leak/rumor -- is that creatives have been told to construct pages that allow for this kind of restructuring.

imageIt's not a new approach, as this classic Bat Lash page indicates. In fact, Bat Lash is the only comic that my memory churned up as doing this kind of thing, although that can't be true at all. It's probably more likely it's the only comic of the general period with which I'm familiar. Anyway, go to the Lu link for a look at the new ad placement. It probably doesn't help matters that for some reason it looks like they're using the ugliest, most garish ad ever created. I wouldn't want that on the same coffee table as my work.

It's a weird choice. One of the general narratives for comics within wider culture over the last three decades is that they're a serious vehicle for stories and as such emphasize their artistic accomplishments over being a junky vehicle for advertising. This is a story they tell outside, potential readers, yes; it's also a story they tell the readers they already have, a way of serving them and their conception of comics as a worthwhile activity. I don't know why you'd mess with that. I know I've read recent fan pushback against traditional whole-page advertisements in the flow of the a comic, so I think that sentiment is pretty strong in comics. The comics readership is fragile in a lot of way right now. It doesn't seem out of the question this could be the back-breaking straw for a certain number of readers.

One reason this hasn't been an issue with ads more generally it that print advertising of every kind has dried up to a significant degree: back covers, inside covers, full-page, component-page. It's hard for me to think that a half-page ad with some comics is more appealing than a full-page ad, but I guess someone out there might think so. Artists and writers will adjust; strip-makers routinely follow a kind of baroque structure for multiple Sundays formatting that makes this kind of effort look easy as pie. I can't imagine they'd want to, but a job's a job. It's hard for me to imagine this being around for a long time or becoming popular, but I've been wrong before.

I imagine this will also make companies revisit the idea of ads in trades and in on-line iterations of work, where there would be even more flexibility. Then again, I'm having a hard time seeing much of a future in advertising within narrative content.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

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