Avengers Assemble!

Comic Characters

It would seem print publishing is undergoing a revival, of sorts. Last week’s blog looked at how Breaking History, a History channel TV show, was being made into a book series rather than the other way around. And this week, owner of Marvel Comics, Disney, announced its plans to encourage a new legion of fans from screen to print.

It’s an interesting turnaround – interesting because it’s already a ‘cash cow’ for Disney. Firstly, the generations of dedicated fans who have grown up leafing through the pages of comics meant the decision to translate them to the screen was a no brainer. Secondly, the visual, story-board narrative naturally lends itself to screen format. And thirdly, the sheer volume of superheroes (for example, did you know there is a Squirrel Girl character? She throws squirrels, it’s her power) and villains means there is an almost endless supply of content that’s ripe for movies, TV shows, cartoons and video games.

So with an assured audience and no end of content that is also easy to translate to screen, it’s a highly lucrative product with no obvious need to encourage new fans back to the original comic strips.

So why is Disney doing it? So that a new generation falls in love with print.

Senior vice president of sales and marketing for Marvel, David Gabriel, announced that it was: “Mobilizing TV and film fans into local comic book shops and retailers.” Marvel’s market share is currently a smidge greater (37%) than its rival DC (30%) and Disney is looking to capitalize on that. But there is a bigger strategy at work. If you encourage a new audience to respect where it all started, “mobilizing” them to spend their Saturdays hanging out at the local comic book store, talking to other fans, reviving the thrill of the next issue’s arrival – it isn’t just for the purposes of nostalgia, it’s a clever way to ensure that the Marvel comic legacy continues.

You see, print is special. It is tactile in a way no other medium is. It is also, somehow, more intimate than owning the DVD or watching the TV series because it demands that the audience to play an active role in the storytelling; it still relies on the reader’s imagination.  If you add into the mix any fan’s fond memories of the comic book store community, you have the basis of a lifelong love affair with comics that is far stronger than an audience that simply watches the movie or cartoons and series on TV. It is a love that causes fans to collect the comics, go to the comic conventions, buy the merchandise and buy the cinema ticket for the next superhero installment and so on. By encouraging future generations to fall in love with print in this way, Disney is making sure that Marvel’s market strength continues and that it remains a highly lucrative endeavor.

The ads that showcase the comics will be shown before movie screenings of Marvel movies, such as the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2  and in the ad breaks before Marvel franchise TV shows, such as Marvel: Agents of Shield. There will be supplementary interviews, dedicated shorts and even a crossover event, ‘Secret Empire,’ to promote the comics. Gabriel commented that Disney was looking to: “Third-party marketing partners to reach our fans through a variety of new ways.” It looks as though Disney’s ad campaign to garner new Marvel comic fans is going to be epic.

For an ad campaign that is worthy of superheroes, or for out-of-this-world print and digital publishing, get in touch with Amnet today.