Sunday, November 01, 2015

Comic Book Ads!


It's time, once again, to take a look at some vintage comic book ads!
This first ad appeared in Atomic Thunderbolt #1, and as you can see, it's a twofer! In the old days of comics, when advertising in them was very desirable, some advertisers would buy a full page, but then divide it to promote different products they sold. Pickwick Co. was one of these, and here you see how they're offering books to teach you how to fight or speak a foreign language! The artwork on these ads, while fairly crude, effectively sell their points, although I don't know how either of those would be a practical way to learn anything of this type! Apparently this company isn't around in any form today, and a quick Google search didn't turn up any information on this company (although it's possible it's somehow related to Pickwick Records, which was infamous for a series of "soundalike" records, much like you used to see advertised on TV in the 70s).

Next, here's a house ad that appeared in several issues of American Comics Group's books, promoting their "Truevision" format. Basically, the way it worked was that instead of white outside of the panel borders, the page was filled with black, and pretty much every panel had something extending out of the panel... hence the "3-D" effect. It really didn't work the way they'd hoped, and they'd abandon the concept.

Next, we have an ad that appeared in Commander Battle and The Atomic Sub #2, although I'm sure it appeared in other ACG books as well. The "Zimphone" was basically an intercom system using handheld receivers instead of wall-mounted speaker/microphone boxes. Although they claim it's not a toy, it's not to dissimilar to some toys that were produced in the 1960s, even of those toys used a wire instead of being transmitters and receivers.

Here's another ad from the same issue, this time for Popsicle! If you recall from way back, I featured some other Popsicle ads from the comics, in a more cartoony style. This ad features Abbott and Costello, although I wouldn't have known that from looking at the art alone (Bud Abbott looks more like Soupy Sales, if you ask me!). I can't imagine anyone could've amassed that many prizes without getting everybody in their neighborhood gorging themselves on Popsicles and turning in their wrappers!

Here's a later Popsicle ad from issue 7, and as you can see, Abbott and Costello have been replaced by Pinky Lee, who had a successful TV career at this point. As you can see, the contest required two pages of advertising!

This one is a different variation on the usual plastic figure ad, that shows a huge battlefield that you are supposed to be able to play out your own wars from different time periods with, but which were really cheap crap... these appear to be of much higher quality, especially given that the Disney characters were included (even if the artwork is very off-model in this ad). This company may have continued to produce figures well into the 1970s and possibly even into the 80s.

Honor House Products, who ran this ad in Commander Battle and scores of other books, was one of those companies that offered all sorts of products... this one, I can't help but wonder how few of the chameleons didn't survive shipment! Eventually, the post office stopped allowing shipment of live animals through the mail, and it's a good thing, too!

Here's another Honor House ad, and one that's very similar to the Johnson Smith Company ads, even in the format! You'll note that most of the products are identical to the JSC offerings, too. Also note the turtle... as well as the toy "space phone" that looks like a much cheaper version of the Zimphone, eh?

I'm half surprised this wasn't an Honor House offering, too! These "giant playhouses" are obviously constructed of cardboard what was printed.. I'll bet the two were even identical outside of the printing (note the windows in the same location, I'll bet the firehouse had a door on the opposite side shown). 

If playhouses and firehouses weren't your thing, perhaps this "Circus Tent" would do! It says that it's plastic and not cardboard, and it fits on top of any card table, so the only framework needed would be for the peaks of the tent. Maybe I'm jaded or something, but I'm guessing it took a lot of use before the creases in the plastic from shipping weren't visible any longer! I can't believe that the ad claims it's flame-proof! 

From issue 6 of Commander Battle comes this ad that gets really close to copying the classic Charles Atlas ad... including opening up at the beach, and even the format of the headline!

I had to include this one, because I'm pretty sure I had a toy that was very similar, if not identical, to the one advertised here, although I don't recall having the fleet to accompany it! As I recall, the carrier had a rubber band-powered launcher for the plastic jets, which clearly did not glide, but rather just were tossed to the floor.

Yes, this ad ran in the same issue of Commander Battle, and it does feature on top a costume of one of the competitor's characters! I can only guess that the coloring was done by someone at ACG and not the advertiser (Honor House again), as it's completely wrong! Also note the picture of the cape, which has a Superman logo and drawing printed on it... and they were so close, too! I don't really have anything to say about the bank.

I've featured items like this in "Cool Stuff" in the past, but this is the first ad I recall finding for these things. While it's called a "television set," as you can imagine, it's basically a panel-by-panel comic book printed on a roll that you put in the "viewer" and scroll through the stories. I don't know how they're calling these rolls "film," as every one of these I've seen uses paper rolls.

Here's an ad for Lionel Trains, also from Commander Battle #14, that strikes me as both unrealistic and overly manipulative. The unrealistic part is the last panel, where you see this huge train layout that must've taken up a good-sized room (assuming the trains are actually drawn to scale with the people, of course). The manipulative part is how the ad is telling kids how to persuade their dad to get them this train set, which was never really a cheap toy to begin with! Dad sure seems to be attached to that pipe of his, too!

From the same issue, it's the American Speciality Co. (which would advertise for years and years), and "Uncle" Harry Boyd... there's something awfully creepy these days about some random guy trying to call himself "uncle" to impressionable young children, especially ones he's promising to give toys and other prizes to!

Hey, remember the Zimphone from the beginning of this feature? Here they are again, and look, it's a walkie-talkie set targeted at kids! And doesn't it look like the "space phone" offered about halfway through this feature?

We're done with ads from Commander Battle and other ACG mags for now... moving on!

This next ad appeared in The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves #2, and it's an ad you'd never see these days! I remember reading sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s that parents were warned not to get their children shirts or coats with their first name on the back, because of fears that child predators would see it, and call the kids by name, making the kids think that this was someone that knew them... I'm thinking the exact same issue is what killed this kind of item from being produced these days (yes, I've seen the novelty mini license plates offered at tourist attractions, and I doubt any of those make it onto bikes).

Our final ad this month comes from Dr. Graves #3, and it's another of those surprising ads in that it advertises items featuring characters from a rival comics company! (Yeah, I'm ignoring the Grit ad on the top). Here's the famous Marvelmania posters that were sold in a set, although I note that this ad doesn't name Marvelmania, but rather shows the business name "Super Heroes Club." This is curious to me, as so far as I'm aware, the Marvelmania merchandising was all based out of California, yet this has a New York address! Did this business pick up some leftovers from Marvelmania to sell? Let's investigate: This issue of Dr. Graves was cover-dated September of 1967, so it was probably on newsstands in July of 1967 at the latest. Ah, but here's where it gets interesting, as Marvelmania wasn't started until 1969! So, these posters were obviously not Marvelmania posters, as I usually see them called on eBay, but rather part of the merchandising from the earlier Merry Marvel Marching Society, which started in 1964 and evolved into Marvelmania. I have seen these posters packaged in a cellophane bag as if to be sold in stores, so I know it wasn't a mail order only thing... but on the other hand, the membership card does bear some similarities to MMMS cards...

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