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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Waking up to the power of comic readers?

Remember a time when advertising in comics was as much a part of the comic as the story? When manufacturers went out to use comics to reach their audience, be it a new advertising comic strip for Clarks Commando shoes, Super Mousse chocolate or even a government-backed anti-smoking campaign?

Well, in the US at least, the buying power of comic readers is getting recognised once again, so maybe there will be a knock on effect on this side of the Atlantic.

With an estimated five million hardcore comic readers in the US, the Bonfire Agency, an advertising and marketing firm launched last year and has done work for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, has launched what it describes as a 'daring' new ad network, bringing together comic book publishers for titles aimed at kids and families under the new banner Archie All-Ages Comics Ad Network.

Clarks Commandos
A further development in its Comics Unlimited strategy, the new network combines the collective companies' reach in mass market, bookstores and comic book shops and brings together noted brands including Archie, Sonic the Hedgehog, Richie Rich, Ghostbusters, Peanuts, Kung-Fu Panda and Adventure Time.

While a majority of the comic book titles in the network are published by Archie Comics, joining the Archie titles are comics published by Ape Entertainment (Richie Rich, Casper's Scare School and comics and magazines developed around DreamWorks licenses like Kung-Fu Panda, The Penguins of Madagascar and Shrek), BOOM! Studios' KaBOOM! imprint (Peanuts, Garfield, Roger Langridge's Snarked! and Adventure Time) and IDW Publishing (Transformers, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the newly launched Popeye).

Bonfire's ComicsUnited initiative launched last year and brings together titles from leading independent publishers of comics meant for older audiences. IDW and BOOM! are already part of ComicsUnited, as are Dynamite Entertainment, Top Cow, Aspen MLT, Zenescope and Skybound. Lego Systems of North America is already running advertising through the new network.

Imagine a UK ad agency taking a leaf from Bonfire's book. Even today, the combined total of Britain's comic buyers is large, with new launches and ongoing titles jostling for position on our newsagents busy shelves.

- Bear Alley has published many of the Clarks Commandos ads. Art by Tom Kerr

- Super Mousse ads appeared in the early 1970s in comic titles as diverse as Cor! And Countdown. Art above by Peter Ford. More info on the Kazoop! Blog


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