Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Join the Comics Club III
In a recent Ninth Art column, Patrick Meaney outlines how the Net and online comics communities can put the click in clique -- and might give the cold shoulder to comics readers who aren't online. But instead of focusing on the insular nature of Web-based fandom, Patrick opts to consider the economics associated with online discussions about comics.

If we're serious about attracting newcomers to comics, ghettoizing our word-of-mouth recommendations, conversations, and advertisements on the Web isn't going to do the trick. Publishers need to consider marketing their wares in traditional, mainstream media -- as well as in other comic books. Off the top of my head, here are some ideas for things folks in the industry could do:

  • Move Free Comic Book Day, if it's repeated, out of direct-sales specialty shops and into book stores, newsstands, and convenience stores that sell comics along with other printed media. The tie-in with the opening of Spider-Man was an excellent opportunity to give away comics -- and for local retailers to secure display space -- in movie theater lobbies. Did anyone actually do this?
  • Include comics readers' mailing addresses (or email addresses and URL's, natch) in letter columns. In the early days of comics fandom, people relied on one-to-one connections for their comics news and friendships. The Web allows us to pursue many-to-many connections and conversations, but let's do all we can in the comics themselves to foster connection and communication.
  • Are you a comics publisher that currently produces a television cartoon? Advertise your company and related comics as part of the program if you're able. You probably advertise the cartoon in your comics.
  • The same goes for movies. Is there any way comics publishers such as Marvel and DC -- and soon to come Top Shelf! -- can mention and market their comics as part of a film's production?
  • Pursue more local promotion of specific comics. Is there an upcoming event or special issue attached to a comic you publish? Where do the creators live? How can you play up a local promotional angle to garner local and regional media coverage? More widespread regional promotion will build toward nationwide awareness. We need to move beyond "Pow! Zap! Comics Aren't Just for Kids Any More" headlines.
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