It’s no secret that comic book sales have flailed within the past few years. Sales are not what they once were as droves of comic book fans have put their comics down for good. Will those who left ever come back? Maybe, possibly when their children are older, and they have more time to sit down a read a good comic. Maybe the comic book genre is just a hobby that has run its course? Maybe fans are tired of the constant changes that Marvel and DC keep throwing at the industry. There are several scenario’s in which I can run through, but none of them will be 100% accurate, it would all be speculation, as was the previous ideas regarding why sales are down. Anyway one slices and dices it, sales are down and the big two are forever trying to “fix it” the way they seem fit. All in the wrong ways maybe. Maybe rethinking how they go about trying to allure the new reader or younger crowd is not a lost cause after all.

Sitting in McDonalds the other day eating an egg white sandwich on a biscuit, listening to Howard Stern on one ear bud. While the show was in a commercial I lowered the volume, who wants to listen to commercials, right? …Of course I was thinking about business at InvestComics and the comic industry (I always do) as a whole when a sudden epiphany waved over me. The comic industry, well the “big 2”, they really have zero desire in promoting their comic books. None. The whole case in saying “We want the comic book industry to strive and be in the hands of NEW readers and young people” is a bunch of malarkey. Marvel and DC are forging ahead with or without the comic books in their media house. So how did the epiphany hit me exactly? I was looking around this McDonalds and realized there is not one single comic book reference anywhere in site. Not a toy, not a poster, not a place mat, nothing. Justice League of America hit theaters with less than impressive numbers. Maybe running a poster ad regarding Justice League comic books would help things a bit? How about a campaign about READING a comic book? There’s an idea that gets a message out, but more importantly brings possible new readers on board, thus more money in the pockets of the comic book industry. Money lost possibly if an ad campaign launched like this? Better than not trying at all if you ask me. More sets of eyes on a product is always good for business. Mainly when “younger” crowds have a habit of frequenting an establishment like McDonald’s. This NOT happening is a bigger sign that neither Marvel or DC have no desire to promote their comic books.

The new Avengers Infinity War trailer is out with millions upon millions of views. Why not stick a “heads up” spot and “visit your local comic shop for Avengers comics!” No, they won’t do that, why would they? Because they have zero interest in the comic book retailer. Their money is found, it’s on the big screen so screw the little guy who got us to this point in the first place. Mostly in the first place, not ALL in the first place, but comic retailers were the foundation of the big picture here.

The same goes for trailers before a comic book movie showing. What would be so hard in promoting the comic books from which these films are BASED on? Making the audience understand there are thousands of Avengers stories out there to read and not just what you have been watching the last 10 years or so. It’s almost unimaginable the actual genre in which these groundbreaking movies are based on are being left out. Unfathomable really.
So back to McDonald’s. Not only do Disney and Warner Bros. been absent from McDonalds, but any major outlet. Yes, you’ll see Groot on a Dairy Queen cup before the new Guardians movie or other little promo’s here and there, but what about the other films? Why is it that there is such a sporadic or absence of promotion except for social media now? Not only that, but what about the comic books?? Why not promote the comics as well as the movie? The studios will pick and choose the promotion they see fit, but there are zero promotions regarding comics. Why not Dunkin Donuts with a comic book/movie promotion? Why not hit Old Navy, Taco Bell, Home Depot, etc.? These are actual places of business that attract some serious footsteps. If Disney or WB were so interested and serious in promoting and reaching “new readers”, why not run a commercial during the Superbowl? Too much money? No, they are not interested, and they simply do not care about the comic book industry. A READERS campaign for YOUNG kids would go over very well, but these two companies only care about their bottom line, which is fine, but do not claim to actually want new readership and do nothing about it.

Making heroes a different gender or introducing ethnicity as a showrunner into books alone will do nothing if you’re not promoting properly. It’s meaningless to do this if the core audience is not buying or caring about it. The outreach does not branch out if one is not doing the broader work to get the word out about these new characters. Keeping things in house for the comic fan ALREADY reading comics does absolutely nothing for expansion on a larger scale, i.e. new readership. Your average comic book reader will not go to their Arabic, Italian, Jewish, Muslim, African American friend and tell them to read a comic because a new character is of their race, color or religion. Not saying it never happens, but it mostly doesn’t.

Disney and Warner Bros. have some of the craftiest marketing teams on the planet. In no way shape or form am I coming up with anything they haven’t thought of already, but that’s the issue. They have thought and have done nothing. It’s not of importance to go the route of truly trying to round up new readers or grabbing the next young generation of comic fans. Their money is tied up in the film industry and that’s it.

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Yes, times have changed. Yes, marketing in different. Yes, kids have other outlets that keep their focus; mobile devices, pc, games, internet, Youtube, etc. But one thing that hasn’t changed much is they like to eat. Do not say they are more health conscious, because they are not. Adults are (some). Children/teenagers are facing an obesity rate like no other time in our history. This means sitting on their butts, watching Youtube and eating Pizza Hut. Get that Pizza Hut campaign going. The Burger King, Taco Bell, Subways campaigns. Advertisements in these fast food chains; “Put that phone down, READ a comic and enjoy your meal!” It may prompt a parent or two to give a hoot and have their child read something instead of playing with their phone while eating. If one parent does it at a fast food place, other parents will follow suite. It’s a chain reaction called “I don’t want to look like a bad/lame parent.” Give out free comics on a constant basis, have a monthly series going. Make it a point to follow a series to continue a story. Develop a controversial comic either on purpose or not, get the buzz going. There are so many ways to create marketing around new readers and trying to grab the attention of a child or teenager regarding comic books. Heck, tie the comics to the phones. Win stuff, get emoji’s, get games, etc.

Marvel Studios pays homage to Kirby, Ditko, among others during their opening logo shot in some of their films. A homage that moves so quickly, it’s impossible to appreciate anything you’re truly seeing. How is this any real homage to an industry that has made the studio billions of dollars? It’s a joke really. A simple flash of an old Kirby or Ditko drawing makes everything alright? A credit at the end of a movie; “Thor – created by Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Stan Lee.” Seriously? That’s it? How about a screenshot of the actual comic that started it all? A panel or two? Something? Anything? It’s ridiculous. Same with DC. It simply makes no sense to shun the comic books from which these characters come from. None, but one thing is for certain and that is comic books do not make 1/1000th of a percent a movie does, so why bother right? Well, you bother because it’s the right thing to do, that’s why.

-Jay Katz

Jay Katz, a comic book collector since 1983, is the owner/creator of InvestComics LLC since 2005. InvestComics LLC was originally a magazine before the website launched in 2005.

InvestComics LLC is the number one speculative/entertainment comic book source on the internet. Their motto is: Invest wisely. Read comics.

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