The Comic Company: Direct Marketing with Style

In 1987 the Comico graphic novel The World of Ginger Fox was wowing readers with its action, adventure and style. Lucky for us all this brilliantly executed work is available in serialized form right here at CO2 Comics where it is updated weekly!

Ginger Fox Cover

Ginger Fox attracted a lot of attention because, not only was it written by Mike Baron, one of the top talents in comics it was illustrated by a young and outrageously gifted Mitch O’Connell who’s work was already infiltrating pop culture.
Mitch’s art had a signature style that had already caught the eye of Playboy magazine and propelled Ginger Fox into a larger arena than the Direct Market could provide at the time.

A creative director at Jordan Marsh, which was a big department store chain in New England but has since been absorbed by Macy’s, took notice and evolved a plan to turn a negative into a positive.

Jordan Marsh had been heavily criticized in the press for a “Jack and Jill” themed ad campaign that many felt targeted white’s only and slighted other races in their demographic. They needed to patch things up with their minority shoppers.

The idea was to create a comic that had the feel of “Archie” with a multi-cultural cast to support the Jackson and Jillian characters. The characters would be presented in numerous situations that would allow for wardrobe changes where they would model the outfits that were being sold in Jordan Marsh’s Style-o-rama department for young men and women. Text boxes with pointers would be used to describe the products and their prices.

The call rang out to Comico. We knew how to get Mitch and we knew how to make comics that looked great. Who else would you call, Ghostbusters?

I flew up to Boston a few times to work out the details of the campaign and I wrote the script. Mitch of course provided the art which was colored by Linda Lessman.
L. Lois Buhalis provided the lettering and Maggie Brenner had the editing chores.

This was to be Jordan Marshes fall catalog and though it had a playfully spooky theme to the story it was not particularly about Halloween.

Style O Rama cover, click to see the catalog

The finished product was stunning and was used as a direct mail ad to be distributed to mailboxes throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. (Sorry Vermont!)

The effectiveness of the mailer was questioned by the venders of the outfits who would have rather seen actual photos of their products but Advertising Age magazine, the leading source for news in the advertising industry, awarded it as one of the best Direct Marketing campaigns of 1987!

Best of Advertising Age

We also produced a few full-page newspaper ads to support the campaign. Though they were black-and-white, they they were just as stylish and beautiful as the color comic which was separated by Murphy Anderson’s Visual Concepts.

Style O Rama newspaper ads

As I mentioned in previous blogs Murphy’s son, Murphy Jr. was a master at creating effects in flat-color comics. His specialty was an effect that looked like acid washed denim which was the rage in the late 80′s. Needless to say it was used often in this sixteen-page catalog that was disguised as a comic book.

Jillian makes a point

I’m sitting here re-reading the comic twenty-three years later and I notice a line that had to be changed for political correctness and was never quite as funny as it was intended (heck it barely made sense.) In the first panel on page 8, Jillian originally points out to Jackson that his fly is open. This is what was suppose to cause the fit of embarrassment in the next panel that is lost on the reader in the final copy.

It’s amazing the power one word balloon can have!

The most influential word balloon I can think of is the one that graces the cover of CO2 Comics very own publication as the logo of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection.

Comics Interview Standard Edition

That balloon represents the voices of a generations of comic professionals and fans that provide unique insight into the heart and soul of the comic industry over the last seventy years.

If you are not familiar with COMICS INTERVIEW stop over at http://www.comicsinterview.com/purchase.html for a little sample of what the excitement is all about.

If you love comics and the history of the industry you will love this collection.

There you have it! I am not ashamed to blatantly plug a product that I so passionately believe in. When you get your copy, you’ll be wanting to tell your friends about it too!

Making Comics Because I Want To!

Gerry Giovinco

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4 Responses to “The Comic Company: Direct Marketing with Style”

  1. Wow! Way cool!
    But those clothing prices… in 1987?! ouch.

    The signed and numbered hardcovers can be found online at regular hardcover prices! Highly recommended!

    Has Mitch O’Connell done much comics work since?

  2. [...] in the eighties Comico produced a fashion catalog for Jordan Marsh that was packaged in the form of a comic book. The catalog, illustrated by Mitch O’Connell [...]

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