This is one of those pieces that I don’t know much about but thought it was cool just the same.
This was part of something called DC Comics Co-Op Ad Slicks. My assumption is that at one point DC Comics would partner with comic shops for cross promotional services. The blurb on the first page of the eight page packet states, “Remember…all co-op ad expenditures must be approved in advance by your authorized DC Comics distributor to guarantee your eligibility for reimbursement. All DC Comics co-op ads must include proper DC Comics, Inc. copyright and trademark notices. Ads submitted without proper notices will not be eligible for full reimbursement.” My educated guess is that DC would send these packets out to comic shops and the shops could then use the artwork as part of any ads it placed in newspapers or maybe even the phone book and DC would somehow reimburse the shop for the advertisement as long as it met the copyright requirements.
Why does that matter?
DC (and Marvel and Disney and basically any company that owns intellectual property) is very sensitive about how their copyrighted characters are used. When a comic shop would advertise in a newspaper the shop owner would pay money for that ad and if that ad featured Superman and Batman that newspaper would be making money off of printing something that featured characters DC owned. This is why having the proper copyright notices in place is important. If the copyright notices are there and the whole things was approved by the authorized DC Comics distributor then DC knows that the ad is legit.
Again, I have done no research into this but my gut tells me that someone in DC’s marketing department or maybe even their direct sales department got the bright idea that if they partnered with comic shops to help shoulder some of the advertising costs for that shop their characters would be featured in the shop’s promotional material. It’s not free advertising because DC is paying out some money but having their product featured in the ads means they get a little more light on them. This is a common practice in retail. Companies will pay stores to feature their products in key locations. Next time your at the check-out at the grocery store pay attention to what products are offered near the registers. The companies that make those products made a deal with the store to put those products there. If someone sees an ad in the paper for a comic shop and Superman is featured that person might be more likely to buy a Superman comic.
To be honest the main reason I bought this package is that I love Perez’s cover to Action Comics #643. It’s a beautiful homage to Superman #1 and I was so excited when this book came out back in 1989. It was the continuation of a great era for Superman and finding it in this format is neat.
The other ads are cool as well. There are three Batman related ads which is not a surprise considering this was sent to shops in 1989 so DC was pushing Batman trades (Dark Knight Returns, Batman; Year One, Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Son of the Demon), the official movie adaptation and Batman Year Three in three separate ads. There is a Question/Arrow ad hawking their team-up in the Question and Green Arrow annuals from that year. Hawkworld, the three issue prestige format series, gets an ad as did The Art of Walt Simonson, El Diablo (the Gerard Jones/Mike Parobeck series) and there was even a Justice League International ad featuring JLI trades, annuals and the latest issues of both Justice League America and Justice League Europe.
I love theme time capsules. I really do.