Comic strips can date as far back as 1833 but it was The G. W. Dillingham
Company who published the first known proto-comic-book magazine in the U.S., The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats, in 1897. Pioneers developed characters like Betty Boop, Popeye and Krazy Kat.
By 1940 we saw the birth of a typically American comic: the super-hero, with
Siegel and Shuster's Superman. Superman is now 60 years old and boasts an
impressive body of work. He alone inspired the boom referred to as the “Golden Age of Comics”; had his own radio show, The Adventures of Superman; and starred in five
superhero films spanning 2 decades. SUPER is right!
The Original “Product Placement” Venue
During the height of popularity for the American comic book, nothing could sell
a snack cake better and the Hostess Company capitalized on this in a big way. Thousands of comics featured the superheroes of DC and Marvel and promoted
products like Twinkies, G.I. Joe and Cracker Jacks right in the storylines.
Comic books were a popular media venue for the promotion of Popsicle, Disney,
and Saturday morning cartoons.
Between the years of 1940-1945, nearly 400 superheroes were created, based on Superman’s model. The top ten list
is as follows:
5) Jean Grey
6) Wonder Woman
7) The Hulk
8) Cat Woman
9) Iron Man
Box Office Hits
And Superman was not the only superhero to become a box office smash. The
increasing popularity of the comic book led the movie business to producing
pictures based on superheroes including Wonder Woman, Spiderman and Batman, the
Incredible Hulk and more. Five Batman movies grossed nearly 1billion dollars and Spiderman 3
has been said to be the most expensive movie ever made. The Dark Knight spent
$62.4 million dollars on advertising and publicity alone.
In 2008, the film Iron Man was released starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony
Stark. It grossed $318 million domestically and $570 million worldwide.
Advertising in the early 60’s followed the
“comic” design of storytelling and the
creation of a character, for example the
Jolly Green Giant and Tony the Tiger,
created by ad man Leo Burnett.
Grape Nuts cereal demonstrated a comic
strip format in several early ads. These
methods are still in use today by
implementing computer generated images in
commercials, producing memorable characters such as the Pillbury Doughboy,
Speedy Alka Seltzer and of course, the Geico gecko.
Licensing the Character Makes the Big Bucks
The comic books, movies, TV shows and commercials are earning the characters
tons of money ... but the real money is in the licensing. Toys, action figures,
board games, video games, clothing and accessories, and anything you can
imagine bearing the image of a Superhero or famous character will earn