Now you may be like The Beat, and somewhat blissfully unaware that they even HAD daily soap operas any more; we thought Fox News, Jerry and Oprah supplied all the drama and hysterics daytime viewers need. Evidently not.
The New York Times has a report:
âGuiding Lightâ? and Marvel Comics have teamed up for an episode of this long-running series, to be shown at 10 a.m. tomorrow on CBS. In the episode, âSheâs a Marvel,â? Beth Ehlers, as Harley Davidson Cooper, one of the showâs main characters, has an accident that gives her superpowers. To commemorate the occasion, Marvel has produced an eight-page comic.
Ellen Wheeler, the executive producer of âGuiding Light,â? said the idea for a collaboration came from another Marvel comic book milestone: the July wedding of the Black Panther and Storm, an X-Men character, whose dress was conceived by Shawn Dudley, the costume designer for âGuiding Light.â? After that, it was simple: âLetâs call them to see if thereâs anything to talk about,â? Ms. Wheeler said.
The producers deny any cross marketing appeal, and say it was all for “fun.”
âWe didnât think of it as a way to get a bunch of Marvel fans to watch the show,â? Ms. Wheeler said. The super-power aspect of the story was also not a big stretch for the show. Mr. Kreizman and Ms. Wheeler said past plot developments had included a characterâs being cloned and a painting that transported Springfield residents back in time.
Did no one at Guiding Light take aside the studio exec from Proctor and Gamble and try to explain to them just what Marvel would have to do to ever make soap fans who don’t already like and follow comics, spend money on them? Or did someone try but they just weren’t heeded? Because it’s not difficult to think that someone said ‘Oh, those women will buy anything that promises them some romance, as long as we stick in characters they already like….’
Marvel, however, is more hopeful about the venture as this article in BRANDWEEK shows:
âWe were really attracted to this as a way to get access to a new audience,â? said David Gabriel, Marvel Publishingâs vp-sales and marketing. âThe soapsâ audience is all women and ours is all men.â?…Although the collaboration between the two genres has gotten a lot of press, Gabriel said that heâs being realistic about what it might accomplish âThe best case for us is a woman whoâs a typical soap watcher goes into a store and buys a book,â? he said. âEven if she doesnât like it maybe sheâll give it to her kids or her husband.â?
Adult women are seemingly the last frontier for the comics renaissance…or are they? We know that in Japan josei manga is for the ladies…but who cares about Japan, really, their market is completely different from ours.
The idea that grown women won’t read comics seems to us to be fairly spurious. (Note that we said grown women as a group, NOT the average grown woman.) The ladies like their escapist entertainment, just like everyone else. The average Video Gamer is 41 and Half Are Female. A well-written BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or DOCTOR WHO comic would surely appeal to the women who watch these kind of shows; women like vampires, and comics folks are trying that kind of thing, too. FUN HOME, CANCER VIXEN and the works of Marjane Satrapi have definitely made some inroads on this group as well.
The problem isn’t so much getting women to enjoy genre fiction as getting them into some place where they might sample the comics. If adult women aren’t exactly the frontier then marketing to them is, at least for most comics retailers. But that is a whole ‘nother tome that we’ll save for another day.
The Guiding Light stunt is just that, and we sincerely doubt that it’s going to get too many crossover viewers/readers. (It may cross over to people like Jim McCann, Marvel’s marketing guy and a soap fan who once wrote for the show.) But if nothing else, it’s gotten Marvel a lot of press, and got people thinking. From that standpoint, it’s already a success.