Tuesday, October 23, 2012


As a freelance writer, in order to eat and keep the lights on, you find yourself open to taking on all kinds of gigs. You won't always work on a title you pitched for or characters you grew up loving. Sometimes you're just happy for the work. And that's usually where corporate advertising comics come into play. The type most famous for "Hostess Fruit Pie" ads that ran in various comics, decades ago. And comic storytelling has always been a very easy way for advertisers to get at their target demographic. Back in those days…kids. Today? Well, mostly just us adults reading comics.

I basically stumbled into a corporate advertising comic job by accident (although for these type of stories…you tend to wonder if there's any other way). It was my last visit to the Wildstorm offices before they closed up shop. And while I was there to mainly talk about getting Justice League Beyond up and running, two other work gigs came out of that trip. One was working on the Arkham City digital stories that would lead into the ongoing Arkham Unhinged comic. The other, was being in the right-place-right-time when they needed someone to write a short comic for Subway Sandwiches.

Go ahead...*groan*
Now these aren't considered high literature (gasp). Nor are they intended to be. You know going into these type of jobs, you're there to camp it up. Pun away. Have some stupid silly fun with it. And most importantly, help advertise exactly what the company wants you to promote. I think the only creative thing I got to do was settle on the villain I wanted the heroes to go up against. I originally pitched Gorilla Grodd, but found out that I was one of the last writers on the stories, and they had already commissioned one featuring that villain. Using a Manhunter would make more sense and I'd be able to have it go against Green Lantern (which I believe at the time, they were gearing up for the movie, so it made sense).

Art by Adam Archer, who also drew my digital exclusive Bane story for Arkham City
I didn't know if these promo comics would be given out at Subway stores. So it was a bit of a surprise that they ended up being inserts each week in the regular DC monthly comics. And yeah…I could understand all the animosity of having these ads stuck in the middle of everyone's comics, interrupting their reading. But of course, a gig's a gig. I ended up pulling out mine from the stapled book anyways (screw mint condition).

Still it was a fun quick job, and truth be told, these type of gigs actually pay higher than regular page rates. But it's probably also why they're so infrequent and short. Of course, I wouldn't want to get in the habit of being type-cast into only working on promo ads. I've got more serious funny book stuff to get to in my career!

And before you ask, if you hadn't already…no, I didn't get any free sandwiches out of the deal.


  1. Aside from the painful shilling for Subway, these weren't so bad.

  2. Hahaha, I remember this.

  3. Ha, I remember these too and while I wasn't one of those fans who was really upset about them getting stuck in the middle of the comics I did just skip them without a thought. I had no idea they were written and illustrated by comicbook professionals I thought they were just cooked up by the same ad people who normally create ads for Subway.

    1. You'd be surprised how many pros eventually work on consumer products and comic ads like this. There's always some movie, toy, or food tie-in for this type of stuff that gets handled by the Big Two.