Perhaps I should mention the name Playboy a few more times to really goose those Google searches.

§ March 8th, 2011 § Filed under advertising § 11 Comments

Yet another item from the many mystery boxes of promotional / retailer goodies:

Clicking on the above image will reveal a 1988 flyer from Dark Horse Comics, ballyhooing Concrete‘s mention in Harlan Ellison’s Playboy article about comic books. In particular, warning retailers that this kind of exposure could increase demand for the then quickly-forthcoming Concrete Color Special, and orders should be adjusted accordingly!

This being about 23 years ago, and just about the time of my entry into the high-finance world of funnybook-selling, I don’t really recall a huge Playboy-fueled bump in demand for the Concrete Color Special. In fact, I bet we probably still have a copy or four left over from our initial order on those. If I were to hazard a guess, if there was a transfer of readers between the world of Playboy and the world of comics, there were probably more comic book fans who sought out that issue of Playboy to read a Harlan Ellison article about funnybooks, than Playboy fans who went looking for a comic book about a giant rocky dude. And if that were the case, I’m sure Playboy appreciated that extra 0.001% bump in sales.

Honestly, I have no idea. Like I said, I don’t have any specific memory of anyone coming into the shop and declaring “I have read of this Concrete comic in the newest issue of Playboy, and by God, I must have it,” assuming anyone would actually tell us that they read about it in Playboy. But I don’t remember it selling much better than normal, aside perhaps from the slight bump in curious readers who’d been avoiding the critically-acclaimed comic book because it was black and white, but were finally tempted to sample the series when presented with a self-contained full-color one-shot. Perhaps other folks present in comics retail at the time may have had different experiences.

Anyway, it’s an interesting flyer, and regardless of the results, I appreciate Dark Horse’s efforts in informing retailers and taking advantage of media coverage. Plus, that gag panel on the flyer featuring Concrete is pretty cute.

By the way, I remember reading that Playboy article at the time, sitting there in the barber shop waiting for my turn in the chair and feelin’ all adult and stuff, picking up the nudie magazine to, um, read an article about comic books. Yes, I actually did read Playboy for the articles. Or, at least, an article.

11 Responses to “Perhaps I should mention the name Playboy a few more times to really goose those Google searches.”

  • Bear says:

    Wait. Your barber had copies of Playboy for customer to read?

    In America?

    Damn you for shattering my preconceived notions about a country I’ve never been to!

    Sidebar: I’ve never read Concrete. Is it any good?

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    your posts remind me of the pre-Previews/Advance Comics days. I worked at a shop while in graduate school and can remember when we’d get “the envelope.” You’d open it up to find all the individual flyers and brochures and catalogs from the various publishers. Previews/Advance Comics made it a lot easier to read and order, but it eliminated a lot of the personality too. After all, the care and ability shown in the production of the sales flyer really was a decent indicator of the eventual production values of the comic.

    But then again, I still miss the chaos of the original TBG with all the hand written ads – Krauss Publishing tightened it up and made it more professional and easy to read when they converted it to CBG, but those original newsprint, folded in half issues of The Buyer’s Guide were like a personal version of Aladdin’s treasure cave to a young boy growing up in Central Nebraska in a town of 600 with the nearest comic shop over 100 miles away.

  • WizarDru says:

    There was a time when ‘reading the articles’ in Playboy actually was a legitimate thing. When you had writers like Gore Vidal, Harlan Ellison, Jack Kerouac, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, Norman Mailer, Ian Fleming, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut and a host of others.

    Playboy used to be a lot like GQ, just with pictures of nude women. It was supposed to be a sophisticated men’s magazine (in the vein of say GQ and Vanity Fair), so there were plenty of upscale articles.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    When I was a freshman in college, bein’ all grown up and all, I got myself a subscription to Playboy. And after my roommate and I had ogled all the pictures every month, it turns out there was a lot of good reading material in there too.

    Unfortunately, I had failed to consider that the University mailroom would forward my mail to my home address over the summer. Imagine my surprise! More to the point, imagine my mother’s surprise!

  • The Mutt says:

    Concrete in Playboy? Is it an article about breast implants?

    Plaayboy used to be worth reading just for the movie reviews. Now they don’t do anything but reprint promotional material they got from the studio.

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    Even at its best, Playboy was notorious among writers for having very low standards, particularly for “name” writers. Material that wouldn’t pass the sniff test for the New Yorker or Harper’s or Esquire got the pass from Hef. That’s a good definition of a certain type of middlebrow: far more concerned with the name on the byline than whether or not the name in question bothered to look over the copy twice before stuffing it in the envelope and cashing Hef’s check.

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    Problem is Hefner himself had way better taste in comics & cartoonists than Harlan Ellison did. Ellison’s article is embarrassing. In the dawn of a new age brought about by Maus and Love & Rockets he was still promoting Batman as the among the pinnacle of comics’ reach.

  • Ed says:

    Was that the same “Ellison talks comics to regular people” article where, as a clear result of his feud with Groth, he dismissed the Journal as a “rag” and then referred to the fucking COMICS BUYERS GUIDE as something like “the birthplace of a new critical school for this emerging art form”?
    Even though my teenage Ellison-fandom had mostly worn off by that time, I was honestly pretty shocked by the level of dishonesty he’d have to sink to to say something like that, just for the sake of petty personal vindictiveness.

  • Tom Mason says:

    Back in the day, Malibu Comics was contacted by Playboy because they wanted to blurb one of our licensed adult comics. We were on the phone with them a couple of times to gently persuade them to include our mailing address in the piece. When it ran, we got around 2000 individual orders, mostly from U.S. prisons, which was kind of surprising, but we filled the orders and dropped in a catalog of other stuff and the mail order business boomed.

    We never saw any increase in direct market sales from a mention or review in any national newsstand publication. Of course, this was all pre-internet when it was harder to connect the reader of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine with his local comic book store.

  • Josh says:

    Over and over in that article, Ellison plays the “this stuff in a stigmatized medium is good ’cause it’s like Legitimate Literature” game, comparing Jamie Delano, for example, to Rimbaud. Not a great strategy, except for establishing that HJE knows and likes some fancy canonical authors: one doesn’t make a good case for Ice Cube by claiming that his work resembles Tchaikovsky’s.

  • cletar says:

    I liked Concrete. It was well done.