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Laughing all the way to the bank!  by Deborah Tirico
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:
1) Batman
2) Superman
3) Spider-Man
4) Wolverine
5) Jean Grey
6) Wonder Woman
7) The Hulk
8) Cat Woman
9) Iron Man
10) Aqualad

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.

Characters Sell
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 uinbelievable money.
Spiderman domed lunchbox
Tony the Tiger Dunks by Nike

Above right, Tony the Tiger Dunks by Nike; above, the Spiderman lunchbox.
© Gemini Studio, Inc. 2008
Superman’s creators both died in the 90’s without a fraction of his wealth since they sold the rights to the character to DC Comics in the 1940’s.  
Twinkies in comics
Jolly Green Giant
pinup girl
A collection of songs                that deal with the positive   aspects of “the Kiss” from   across the decades - 1940’s up    to the present, most of these  songs will be familiar!               To receive your free copy, simply email us your snail mail address.
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