Death Wish Coffee Comics

By | Tuesday, December 31, 2019 Leave a Comment
Death Wish Coffee Presents: Odinforce #3
By kind of a weird set of coincidences, the folks at Death Wish Coffee -- a company only founded 2012 -- started getting involved in comics fandom in late 2015. The short version is that they were looking to expand their audience and saw a lot of potential in comics. They were able to secure Ron Marz and Rick Leonardi to create a 2016 comic called Death Wish Coffee Presents: Odinforce, relaying the adventures of Halfdan Left Hand and his incredibly loyal Viking crew. (The Viking theme spun out of a critically successful TV commercial that ran during Super Bowl 50.)

Everyone seemed to enjoy the comic and a second issue was produced in 2017. A third issue (pictured here) came out just recently. Each issue features a stand-alone story that has nothing to do with coffee. If not for the couple house ads in each issue, you could even dismiss the "Death Wish Coffee Presents" as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek publisher name and assume the comic had no actual relation to coffee, other than perhaps as a means to keep the creators awake. The stories are all good; they're all suitably different in terms of the type of adventures they are, but still play to the Viking mythologies. (Both the myths the Vikings themselves believed, as well as the ones we often believe about them.)

What I like about the series is that everyone across the board seems committed to just making a fun comic, and not undercut the stories by making them extended ads. "Hey, this is a good comic! Enjoy! Oh, we also sell coffee if you're interested." From the outside, it almost looks more like a sponsorship arrangement than something that came from Death Wish Coffee itself. I really like the approach they're taking here. It's actually not dissimilar to the approach a number of webcomics have taken -- the comic itself is a loss leader, and the real merchandise is "ancillary" material like coffee mugs and t-shirts and such.

To me, this is the type of marketing that says, "Hey, we're just out here doing cool stuff!" The comics are just to catch your attention, and then they trust in their product enough to let it speak for itself once you've heard about it. Granted, you need some high quality product to be able to do that and a lot of folks can't, but by all the accounts I've heard thus far, Death Wish Coffee wins over coffee drinkers pretty quickly.

Compare this against the more cynical approach in some of the Geico ads that have been running through some comics lately. Have you seen these? Those poorly drawn one-page comics featuring the Geico Gecko? It's like the ad agency that made them heard they had ad space in a comic and banged out something in an afternoon based on what one guy thought he remembered comics were like 40 years ago but that's okay because comics are all crap anyway and who's gonna notice? They're just awful. I can't imagine anyone calling Geico based on those ads.

But Death Wish Coffee? No, they get it. They're having talented folks put out some quality comics. Why? Because they're cool. If that sells some more coffee for them, great! If not, well, they've still got some cool comics out of it!
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