I was planning on skipping this week, but I'd like to write briefly about one of the most interesting comics that came out this month. Maybe not THE single most interesting, but ... Top 5. If it were my Myspace friend, I'd put in my Top 8. Its Myspace song would be Okkervil River's Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe. Later: I'd discover it was a 40 year old police officer, and I'd inadvertently been caught in an elaborate sting operation to track down internet pedophiles. The regret, the horrible, horrible regret. All because of this comic. It's that interesting. I'm of course talking about the two-page Honda Elements SC Advertisement fumetti in this week's Marvel comics.
THE PLOT: a lion, recently escaped from the zoo, has met a Honda Element, somewhere "in the city" (presumably New York City). Plainly, the lion is a super-genius as not only can it escape from zoos, but it also can talk; however, the lion is insane as it's talking to a car. Cars can't talk. Anyway, the comic ends with Crazy Fucking Lion teaming up with the Friendly, City-Slicker Honda to go find a drugstore where it intends to purchase hair products. And then, off to Marquee, to snort blow off of Lindsley Lohan's skeleton! Aaah, New York!
It's two pages about a schizophrenic talking supergenius lion, which is intended to sell Honda SUVs, and I found this in an ad for Marvel Comics The Order #2 and Mister Iron Fist #8-- not in Vertigo comics, not in Fantagraphics comics, but plain old mainstream, run-of-the-mill Marvel comic books.
We all know that comics aren't for little kids anymore-- they're wildly inappropriate for little kids. But, fuck, are they even for college students anymore? They're for people with enough disposable income to purchase sports utility vehicles. I didn't have that kind of money in college-- did you? I don't know a thing about cars, not a thing, so to me, a SUV is for families-- at least late 20's, early 30's. And that's not just the audience for The Order, but enough of the audience to capture the attention of advertisers...?
It didn't just end up in these comics by accident-- Marvel must have people who sell ads. Honda must have people who evaluate whether it makes sense to purchase ad space, whether it'll hit their target demographic, meet their branding strategy, etc. The comic reflects not only an aging comic audience, but a series of business decisions, money changing hands, memos going out, phone calls, e-mails, teleconferences-- the channels of fucking commerce, you know, lit up and shit two pages of Honda ads into my Mister Iron Fist comic book.
The other ads in these book are o-kay, but not as good. The Army has a recruiting ad-- recruiting standards have gotten so low thanks to the War that the Army is willing to accept nerds now. Great. Fucking fantastic. The 81st Fighting Hemophiliacs... watch out terrorists. You can not only bring democracy to the Middle East-- you can bring the Philosophy of Star Trek. That's what that region needs. I say Go! Sign up! Say hello to Iran while you're there, Cosplayers. And then there's a men's underwear ad that's all about negatively stereotyping women-- which... not only did those advertisers decide to sell to the comic book audience, but they even got the casual misogyny right! Cheers, Mad Men!
But the Honda ad's the most interesting. You know, the lion is a symbol in the Book of Revelations for Christ-- the "Lion of the tribe of Judah." Check out this awkward line of dialogue from the Honda ad: "You're a lion on the lamb." The lamb? Also a symbol of Christ, only from the Gospel of John: "the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). So really isn't this Honda ad essentially all about the Second Coming of Christ? And I think what Honda is saying is if and when the Second Coming happens, Jesus will not only return, but return in a Honda Element, North America's Truck of the Year in 2003. Also: he will apparently have beautiful hair because the Honda Element will help him to purchase hair conditioner before he redeems the world.
Fucking A! That's what you call a hard sell.
I love how much credit it gives to comic book fans, too-- they can't just do a straightforward ad campaign. They have to use Dadaist humor in order to connect with comic fans, since comic fans are so cynical and discriminating...? Really, Madison Avenue? Come on, now.
The Order #2 and Mister Iron Fist #8 were both fun or whatever, but that lion ad? HOLY SHIT.