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Monday, February 03, 2014 

DC turns covers into marketing tools, not story drivers

The New York Times wrote superficially about DC's cliched use of variant covers, which now extends to use as sales gimmicks for licensed merchandise:
Advertising for X-ray Specs and Sea-Monkeys has long appeared inside the pages of comic books. Now, DC Comics is turning its covers into a marketing tool.

But the covers won’t be used to pitch Twinkie the Kid. Instead, DC Comics, the home of Batman and Superman, is using its covers to promote Scribblenauts Unmasked, a video game released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in September, as well as a line of toys that will come out this month.

The Scribblenauts Unmasked characters, which are based on DC’s superheroes and villains, graced the covers of 20 comic book titles in January, recreating scenes like the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics and the first formation of the Justice League.
There's one little problem: how many children are reading their comics today, and will be able to see those ads on their covers? Not many, and surely they know it. Besides, this isn't new if we take variant covers into account.
The promotion is intended to increase awareness of the toy line, which was conceived after the design team at DC Collectibles saw sketches of the Scribblenauts Unmasked characters.

“The more villainous they are, the more adorable they are,” said Jim Fletcher, the design director for creative services at DC Collectibles.
Well, what have we here? Somebody's touting villainy over heroism, I see. I think that's reason enough for any smart parent not to buy their products if they're going to say evil is better than goodness. I guess they're also not brave enough to say that the more beautiful the character design of a female protagonist is, the more adorable she/they are? This is just what's gone wrong with marketing.

And what kind of people are going to buy these "collectibles"? Probably only grownup collectors hoping they'll make a fortune off of plastic someday. But I figure some of these toys will ultimately turn out to have little value, much like back issue pamphlets have turned out to be the same case.

And whereas the covers once served to draw people into the story, that's no longer how they do it today, just using the covers to make extra bucks off of without offering good storytelling.

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Just more evidence that the medium is obsolescent, and that DC and Marvel exist mainly so that their parent companies can maintain copyrights, so that the characters can be licensed for other media (toys, games, TV, movies). And I agree that most people who buy Scribblenauts will be adult speculators. And, because of low demand, the items will never be rare or valuable, so the investors will get burned.

I agree. Covers are no longer creative. They used to feature a scene from the story inside that would draw you in, make you wonder what would happen. These days, they're uncreative and mostly just random pictures of the heroes.

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