Monday, May 03, 2004

Lessons from Manga. 

Shane gets a small shipment of manga from a friend in Japan, and continues on his quest to survey advertising methodology in comics by comparing manga ads with ads in American comics:

So what do we have total? We have ~ 12 full page ads half of which advertise other manga and ~ 20 (I didn't list them all) stories in one book. So lets say there are 24 stories just to pick a good number and 12 ads. That's one ad for every two stories. The book is black and white except for introductions to the main stories in the books. I'm sure some of these stories are probably bigger than the others.

In American comics you get an ad about every two pages. Why can't we go this route? Books like Shonen Jump and others are showing that we can. Tokyo Pop can produce a whole run of an individual story and sell it for $9.99. These anthologies are big sellers in Japan. They would constitute a whole line of comics here in America. So lets take an example from Marvels line. Lets look at the upcoming Avengers revamp. Take all the single issues stories of the revamp. We have the main title, which is Avengers, and three other titles: Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. If Marvel wanted to take this approach they could publish the Avengers book in full color followed by the other titles in black and white in a square bound book for pretty cheap. This would allow them more room to place ads in the book as well as reaching larger audiences through bookstores and newstands, meaning even more ad revenue as the books sales go up. This would also give them room to try other titles such as Captain Marvel or She Hulk for cheaper and less risk than publishing a full color comic based on those characters.

What I want to know is why we can't do this? Is it our adherence to the direct market? Is it the companies reluctance to take a chance on a new way of doing things?

Fuck, but those are good questions. And I can't think of any good answers. Don't get me wrong, I can think of answers, just not any good ones. Condensing, for instance, Batman titles into one large monthly anthology sounds like it would be a huge fucking relief for me and my wallet, and I'd have a greater chance of being exposed to new writers and artists quite by accident.

Maybe 300-400 page monthly anthologies would take up a lot of shelf space, so let's move ourselves more gradually in that direction: a monthly TPB, 72 pages apiece, featuring (for instance) three serial or episodic Batman (and related character) tales at 22 pages apiece, with 6 pages left over for full-page ads. Or three 20 page ads with 12 pages for ads and a letter column, or whatever. I would buy the fuck out of that book, let me tell ya.

Food for thought.

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