Advertising in comic books has changed a lot and grown with comic books. There are a few important pages in any comic books with space for advertisers. There’s the back of the front cover, the back cover and the front of the back cover and finally a multitude of interior pages. The most important page has to be the actual back of the comic book. Even in older comics, these pages had important advertisers. They were usually large corporations with an interest in the comic book demographics. Both the inside of the front and the back cover usually featured similar large advertisers, but often the space was reserved for the publishers and other advertisers related to comic books.
The real fun, of course was inside the actual comic book where publishers generated plenty of schemes to fit as many ads as possible. Although some advertisers would have full page ads in the 1970s, like Hostess, most would run ads in either the classifieds or the smaller pages with small boxes. For decades, it seems, one could see ads about how to grow one’s muscles, like the super heroes on the comics being read or how to grow an entire family of shrimps in a small bowl. These ads were so popular that over time they have amassed a cult following of their own.
In the 1990s, the ads became a little more intricate. First smaller publishers such as Image Comics would frequently do cross promotions with other comic book publishers such as Dark Horse Comics, for example, filling the higher grade ads found on the back cover, the inside cover, and the inside back cover. Although they had always been around, there were also more campaign by large advertisers, such as the Milk board that advertised dairy products or producers or running shoes and backpacks. Video game advertisers which had always been around, also stopped using comic book art to represent their products, like Atari of the 1980s and instead showed the full graphics of their newly better looking video games. Action figure advertisers did the same thing, letting four-colour pictures of their products speak for themselves, instead of relying on artwork provided by comic book artists.
One important development in the usage of advertising pages within comic s had been the complete elimination of the classifieds type of pages in favour for ones where the minimum size is half a page. The inside cover and inside back cover are now used by publishers to present supplemental information on comic books or house advertisements instead. If the market of comic book advertisers had not dried up, would they publishers use these pages for internal purposes? This is a trend that really started with smaller publishers who just didn’t have the same reach to attract advertisers and thus had to fill in the space with something.
Perhaps the lack of smaller advertising formats and therefore, more affordable formats for smaller advertisers should be a signal to comic book publishers than making ad placement possible in their publications should be a priority as opposed to focusing so much on house ads. There has to be a market for affordable advertising in comic books.
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