You know, I’m mad. Why? Because I was all geared up and happy to be able to write about Dark Souls in comparison to a comic that I have been loving. I barely get to talk about Dark Souls in a long-form since most of my friends are comic fans and don’t know what the hell Dark Souls is. I had a plan. I was going to even outline and everything!
But no. Not this week. Why? Because I have to go and talk about ads. Thanks, ya’ll.
So, it’s been recently discovered that come June, the ads that stick to the inside of comics will become a bit more encroaching by having ads on the same page as actual content, essentially splitting the comic page in two and put in an ad, this specific one for Twix with a celebrity so famous I had to Google who the hell he was. This has essentially split the comic reading base into different camps, as per its usual.
As for me? At first, I thought it was a missed opportunity to include the ads directly in the comics! Yeah, we could’ve had a Batman, after beating the ever loving crap out of the Joker, turn to the reader and advertize Entenmann’s devil’s food donuts with a wink. It would have been amazing!
But after I got my sad laughs out and began to take a critical look at it, I did form an opinion, as well as an opinion on some counterarguments to mine. First and foremost, this really helps to just further solidify that, despite the good books that creators at both DC and Marvel are making, it doesn’t change the fact that the higher ups and both those companies regard its paying customers with universal fucking contempt.
It is bad enough that these companies charge $4 and $5 for… ten…fifteen…. maybe twenty minutes of entertainment depending on the speed of the material and depth of content and those alone were already loaded with ads. Yeah, seeing “32 Pages” on a solicit means roughly 20-22 pages of content and the rest are ads. But those were relatively easy to ignore but now it’s a massive distraction and another choke chain on the necks of creators.
Now, there are some out there that say that this isn’t the first time this has been done. And that is true. This same form of advertisement was done in the seventies. And after checking my sun dial and consulting a team of astrologers I have come to this conclusion on that argument: It’s 2015. There has been a bit of time between when they did it then and now. And, forgive me for flaunting my classical education here, but they wouldn’t have stopped doing it back then if it actually had worked, right?
On to the second argument I’ve heard a great deal of: It won’t affect the digital versions of these books. This is true. One of the many reasons I’m making the transition to all digital is they lack the flow-breaking ads within the story. Ads there (which are usually for other books in a publisher’s line, which are more tolerable to me) are located in the back after all the, you know, content. Now, I have to remind everyone that this is just an opinion: There are no ad breaks in most digital comics now.
As the digital market becomes more and more viable, do you really think for one moment advertisers aren’t going to take a look at that and start waving a load of cash at such places like Comixology? And that’s just picture ads. What about if they start adding video ads or ads that you must watch for the allotted time limit to further enhance you immersion? Because if you don’t think that wouldn’t happen… you have more faith than I do.
The next argument that has been thrown at me is that: “C’mon Ken, you watch Youtube videos and those have ads and mid-rolls!” Yeah, you’re forgetting a massive difference: I don’t pay to watch Youtube. I don’t pay to watch Atop the Fourth Wall, The Cinema Snob, The Jimquisition, or any of the many Let’s Plays that I watch, so I can at least understand ads and mid-rolls on those. Hell, thanks to the Patreon funding model, some of those don’t even have mid-rolls or even ads at the beginning, which just further buries this argument. Or you can even look to Netflix. Yeah, I pay for Netflix and I get literally hundreds of hours of entertainment with no ads.
Now, while I disagree with those three above arguments, you can make an argument. This final one? No. I will not give anyone this. The argument: “Well, a company has to make money!”
Yes, I agree. Companies need to make money. This is true. However, this industry, these companies that pushed and pushed and pushed a speculator boom to the point where one of the two biggest companies went into bankruptcy, nearly caused the destruction of the industry, caused the price of single-issue comics to inflate hundreds of times over to the point where just this week a comic went on sale for $9.99 for only fifty pages and is continuing to make the purchase of single issues less and less viable; What do you expect me to feel? Do you really expect me to shovel out three, four, five dollars of my money for what seems to be constantly shrinking amount of content while these companies (owned and funded by media empires) run to other companies with chipped cups looking for alms going on about how poor they are and not get angry about that?
This continuous cutting off of content for more ad revenue works in the short term, but, it’s not sustainable. As I have said before, the distribution method of single issues a month becomes less and less viable to a customer like me to the point that it may not even be worth it. The concept of “trade-waiting”-waiting for a collected edition- is novel, but if too many people feel burned by single-issues anemic content and switch to that, the continuing model of cancelling books that don’t make the cut in the single-issue direct market will just kill so much potential and damage so many creators. Long-term, single issues cluttered with more ads than story is not in the interests of the consumer.
Because, ladies, gentlemen and non-binary; if there is one thing you take away from the Ramblings I have done or will do in the future, it’s this: For all the joy and passion and emotions that creators have brought me over the years, the company’s, DC, Marvel, Image (even extending this beyond comics to the likes of Nintendo and Bethesda), are not your friends. They exist to make money. And that’s fine, but remember, their interests do not align with yours as a consumer and, while you shouldn’t have to scrutinize and examine every move they make, you kind of need to.
Call me a cynic. But companies will have their pound of flesh, no matter what. I’ll give this Twix thing one grace: at least it is not as embarrassing as the Halo 4/Mountain Dew/Doritos what-the-Hellery from a few years back, but it is no less nerve racking.
Be smart with your dollar, be informed and may we all go to the Gates of Comic Valhalla, shiny and chrome.
I swear: We’ll talk about good things next week.