Fed up with too many advert's in comic-books these days? You're not alone.
Lot's of my customers have mentioned the over-abundance of adverts in the pages of Marvel books these days, so I decided to look into it a little more.
I must admit, adverts in comics have never really bothered me that much, I have always looked at them at worst as a necessary evil. At best, they are a fun way of grafting individual comic's to the time period they were released in. How cool is it reading an X-Men comic from '78 and seeing a Star Wars related advert? Or the bad hair on the kids in the 1980's Lego adverts? Zeitgeist baby.
So I was reading Marvel Knights Spider-man #19, and I was thinking to myself, "damn, this issue feel's thick?", so I did a page count. Now, in the old days, your average comic page count was 32 pages, with 22 pages of that being story, somewhere around the mid '90's the page count jumped to 36 pages, keeping the steady 22 page story count. Now bear in mind thiose 32 / 36 pages also included at least 1 page of letters, and 1 page of in-house group adverts (for instance, a look at everything coming from the X-Universe for a month).
Marvel Knights Spider-man #19 ran at 52 pages!!! That's 22 for story, 1 page for cover, and 1 page for
sorry, you weren't reading that were you? - "previously in" and credits (like in the Ultimate books), and 1 final page for in-house group adverts (in this particular issue, advertising for the rest of The Other crossover). The other 27 pages were all adverts.
Crazy shit, huh? Thats more adverts than comic.
Now you can see why so many people wait for the Tpb's. I don't know about you but I don't want half of my comic boxes to be filled with adverts, but after 12 years of comic collecting I don't want to break by Amazing Spider-man collection.
Marvel claim that monthly comics cost so much to print these days, that adverts are the only way of subsidising / off-setting the cost. But printing the comic with twice the adverts doubles the size of the book, which surely doubles printing costs you'd think?
Now, unless the adverts cover more than half the printing cost, they are not worth running at all as Marvel would lose money. So we have to presume that Marvel are making money on these adverts, otherwise, why print them?
Now Warren Ellis / Image can afford to print a 24 page comic with 16 pages of story, and they need to sell 20,000 to make profit and make sure everyone working on it get's paid. One in-house advert. That's it, and they can make money on that at $2. So presumably, at $3 a pop, Marvel are making good money on a comic that sells somewhere in the region of 70- 75,000 issues each with 27 pages of ad's. Very good money.
If Marvel can ship an 88 page Tpb for £7.50 (still cheaper than the price of four individual comics) with no adverts, then you have to ask why are the single issues costing so much with adverts.
Is this just a blip? A freak one-off occurance? Ult. X-Men #64 which shipped the same week ran 27 adverts, Ghost Rider #2 shipped with 23 pages of adverts and last months MK Spider-man # 18 shipped with 23 pages of adverts with another four devoted to that Nick Fury's Howling Commandos series that won't sell.
By contrast, DC's infinite Crisis #1 only had 10 pages of adverts, and 32 pages of story. Now thats more like it!
I really can't see what difference adverts make to the price of comics anymore. Is it done purely because that's the way it's always been done? Has it become a case of the tail wagging the dog?
So what can we do?
In truth, very little. But if Shawshank Redemption taught us only one thing, its that writing letters can make a difference. Write Marvel, write Wizard, bug the shit out of them and maybe, just maybe, they will listen.
Writer of whatever's on his mind. He would like to add that Shawshank also taught us not to cry in prison and introduced us to the word; fuck-stick