I Hate Advertising

Not the most original sentiment, but it's true. I think advertising is a form of spiritual cancer that perverts and cheapens every medium it touches. It saturates our culture to the point where the average consumer is completely desensitized to its presence — and responds by oversaturating our culture even further. It panders to the lowest common denominator, and frequently serves no purpose except to propagate more advertising

Unfortunately, advertising is also the only thing keeping many media afloat. Would we have modern television, newspapers, and magazines without advertising? Probably — but they'd be much riskier ventures, and they're already terribly risky to begin with. So I've learned to tolerate advertising, even if I don't like it.

Recently, however, advertising has begun showing up in places that try my patience. Floating in front of website content. Hidikng on the backs of my baseball tickets and at the bottom of my supermarket receipts. Sitting in half hour blocks in front of movies.

And on the inside covers of comic trades.

DC and Marvel have been running in-house ads on the inside covers of their trade paperbacks for a few years now. Even though I resent their presence, DCs inside cover ads are fairly tasteful and restrained. The Marvel ads, on the other hand, tend to be in full color and extremely distracting. Even worse, while DC limits itself to ads on the inside back cover, Marvel runs ads on the inside front cover. Now, avertising and books don't have to be an unpleasant mix. Virtually every book I have has some form of advertising in it — whether it's a single page in the front of the book listing other books by the same author, or a slightly more detailed list of other titles from the same publisher in the back. I can live with that. What I really object to in DC and Marvel's case is the placement of the ads on the inside cover.

The bean-counters mjst love the inside cover ads — it lets them cram two ads into the book without adding an extra leaf to their printing costs. But the inside cover is an integral part of setting the mood of a book. Well-designed inside covers, like those on Dark Horse's Hellboy trades or Fantagraphics' Love and Rockets hardcovers, help set the tone for everthing to follow. If nothing else, even a clean white page empties the mind so it can be filled with something new and mondrous. Running ads in this space make a comic seem like less of an artistic achievement and more like a short, hideously overpriced magazine.

I suppose I should just be glad that Marvel's finally stopped running clip-and-save subscription coupons in the back of their trades...

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