What We Mean When We Talk About Comics Marketing

Where do you first hear about new comics?

Is it in an announcement on a comic or entertainment site, one that comes alongside an insightful interview, preview pages, or simply a press release? Is it in a tweet from an unrelated creator or a notable celebrity, touting this new release as something you can’t miss? Or is it on a podcast like my own, in which a key component of the creative team guests on the show, discussing this project that might be your new favorite?

All of these are options, as are innumerable others. Our awareness of the next big thing in comics can come from a range of places. But the starting point for each of these methods is often one and the same, forming the foundation of what drove your eventual interest in a title, even if you didn’t know it. That commonality?

The efforts of a comics marketer. 3

Comics marketing is a fascinating subject, and that’s not just because I’m an easy mark because my day job is at an advertising agency. It reminds me of the public perception of editors, as both earn blame for the failings of a project but little applause for one’s success. Most of the time I see the subject of marketing mentioned, it’s as a caustic rhetorical question along the lines of, “Does comics marketing even exist?” It does, and it can be crucial to a comic finding its audience. Like with the work of an editor, you could say the efforts of marketers can make or break a comic.

To me, at least part of the reason some struggle to understand the impact of comics marketing is because, frankly, no one really understands what a comics marketer does and how the role works. It’s one of the most sprawling roles in comics, as in this industry, marketing isn’t just marketing. It’s marketing, public relations, publicity, sales, social media, retailer relations, and, as it might say on a job description, many other jobs as assigned.

It’s also closely related to other key aspects of the comics business, as the decisions in publishing and distribution feed into and even define the work of a marketer, with that troika of sectors often overlapping to the point their Venn diagram forms a single circle. That makes it both a complex job and a complicated one to talk about.

And yet, here I am, talking about it all the same.

Because of its sprawling nature, there’s just no way to address comics marketing in a single feature that isn’t painfully dense. 4 That’s why I’ve split it up, as this week on SKTCHD, there will be not one, not two, but three different features exploring this subject. One will be from an analytical perspective, another will be looking at what this side of the comics world is missing, and then another that endeavors to answer the question of, “What do we mean when we talk about comics marketing?” Because if we can’t definitively say what it is and how it works, there’s no point in addressing any of it.

And that’s exactly where we’ll be starting today.

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  1. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to use “marketing” as an umbrella term representing everything someone in this role might do, even if many if not all comics marketers do roughly equal amounts of publicity and public relations work.

  2. I know. I tried.

  3. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to use “marketing” as an umbrella term representing everything someone in this role might do, even if many if not all comics marketers do roughly equal amounts of publicity and public relations work.

  4. I know. I tried.