Saturday, July 19, 2014

Comic Book Ads: Thom McAn!

As I've noted before, in the Golden Age of Comics, there were all sorts of things advertised in the comic books... and this carried over through the Silver Age, with a lot of items disappearing from the ad pages through the 1970s and 1980s. One type of item you'll never see advertised any more is shoes! I recall seeing shoe ads in the 1970s, but I have no memory of any shoes (even sneakers) being advertised in the 1980s.

So, here's a selection of ads that Thom McAn Shoes ran in Golden Age Fawcett Comics. Note that the emphasis here is on how they help you do better in sports.... and maybe that's why you don't see shoe ads in comics of the last 30 years or more, because let's face it, comic book readers tend to be viewed as the strictly non-athletic type!

There were at least two series of ads in the Thom McAn line... Famous Sports Flops was, I believe, the first! There'll be more after the jump!
What's that? You're wondering about those magic "Bazooka Shoes" Thom is wearing in that second ad? Well, there was a series of his adventures as well... I suspect that the ad above was to transition from one series to the other.


There were some general ads done that weren't part of a series, too!

Overall, there weren't nearly as many of these ads as there were for other shoe manufacturers... and maybe that's because Thom McAn did just fine without needing to advertise in comic books!

Next time around: Captain Tootsie!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The 1975 Superhero Merchandise Catalog!

This slot in the schedule was originally supposed to be an installment of "Retro Reviews," but since I'm running behind schedule, I'm instead bringing you part one of the 1975 issue of The Superhero Merchandise Catalog!

Lots of groovy superhero stuff from the seventies await you after the jump!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cool Stuff!

It's cool stuff time again! Let's see what goodies I have for you to peruse this time...

Here's a couple more of those Argentina pinball games (there'll be more of this kind of Argentina exclusive stuff in other Cool Stuff posts), these featuring the Beatles cartoon as well as Bewitched. The amazing thing about this is that they're both relatively recently made (although honestly, I'd be amazed if the manufactures bothered with licensing them properly).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Geek Memories: Discovering the History of Comics!

I'm pretty sure my interest in comic book history was spurred on by first, early exposure to DC's 80-Page Giants, and then even more so by the 100-Page Super-Spectaculars. These books reprinted older comics stories, and the Super-Specs especially would often have information in them about some of the characters and stories reprinted. For Marvel's part, there wasn't so much on the older stuff... sure, there would be reprints of the Silver Age stories in their various titles I feature here in "Cover Redux," but there was no historical context to them at all (this wouldn't really happen in Marvel books until Roy Thomas' Invaders book, and to a lesser extent in the Giant-Size titles).

What really sparked my interest in comics history more than anything else was seeing ads for Steranko's History of Comics. Just the collage covers of both volumes, with all kids of heroes flying, leaping, running, and so forth all over the place piqued my interest greatly!

So, you'd think that the first time I saw those volumes in the store, I would've snapped them up, right?

Wrong. Oh, I wanted them... badly... but I didn't have the money for them, and I couldn't talk my mom into buying them for me (they must've appeared expensive back in those days when 20 cents or a quarter got you a comic, or 50 cents for a Super-Spec). I saw them on sale brand-new one time, and one time only, at a store called Gov-Mart Bazaar, which no longer exists so far as I'm aware of. This store was like a Kmart on steroids, or at least it seemed that way to me at the time, sprawling over a huge building. The book department was right next to the in-store restaurant (something you really don't see incorporated in a store much any more... the norm these days it to shove it into a corner, whereas Gov-Mart and at the time Kmart had them in the middle of things). I saw those covers and recognized them immediately, even from the back, when we were in the restaurant getting a drink or snack, and begged mom for them, to no avail.

Finally, the day came when I could start to fill my brain with comics history. Going to the Tacoma Mall, I'd always check the bookstores for books about comics, and page through them as much as I could, but I still didn't have the money for them... until one birthday, when I got some birthday money. It probably was only about $20 or so, but it was enough. We were heading up to Seattle to visit some relatives, and I talked my parents into stopping at the mall so I could buy a few books about comics (I couldn't have been any older than 12 or 13 at the time). My purchases were The Great Comic-Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer, and All in Color For a Dime, edited by Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff. I swear, I read both of those books cover to cover on that trip, and would continue to read them cover-to-cover for years to come.

As time passed, my copy of AICFAD lost the front cover, and a few interior pages as well, and I probably just threw it away during one of those foolish periods when I lost interest in comic books (or pretended to, anyway). TGCBH was given to my brother Jeff, and I don't know what happened to that copy.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. One day, I happened to wander into the Book King (another of those glorious stores that doesn't exist any more, it was part of the outside block of stores at the Fred Meyer on 19th and Stevens in Tacoma) and found my first copy of The Rocket's Blast Comic-Collector, which of course I'd seen advertised in the comics themselves. This would've been about 1976, because the book cover-featured King Kong (which had a remake coming out about that time). They also had an issue with a Blue Beetle cover, which I also snapped up. Reading these were even more of a revelation, because those first two books I mentioned couldn't possibly cover all of comics history... Don Rosa's "Information, Please" (I think that was the title, I could be misremembering) provided filling for some holes in my knowledge, as did some of the other articles and columns. From that point on, when I could track down an RBCC issue, I did (sadly, during one of those recurring periods when I have to sell stuff because of being between jobs, those went). I also was a faithful reader of The Comic Reader, although that didn't really have much of the history of comics in each issue.

Once I was an adult, especially while I was in the Navy (when I had pretty much nothing but spending money), I was unstoppable. The very first comic book shop I went to when I was in school in Indianapolis had the Steranko books, and I snapped them up immediately. I probably bought all of the Ron Goulart-penned books as they came out.

It didn't ever seem to stop from that point. I wanted to know more and more about the history of this four-color medium. It was Twomorrows that really kept feeding that desire as I discovered their magazines, such as The Jack Kirby Collector, Alter Ego, and Comic Book Artist, among others. At some point, I got lucky and was able to freelance for them transcribing interviews, and I'd get to hear about all kinds of great stories before they got into print (as well as a few that got edited out). While the money wasn't great, actually hearing the stories from the people who lived them was amazing.

These days, it's easy to forget sometimes how there was a period when information about comics history wasn't very accessible... pretty much until Steranko's books, it was hidden away in low print run fanzines that I certainly didn't have access to at the time. These days, not only are there books covering the history of the medium, there are books covering the specific histories of different publishers, characters, and even the individual creators. It's an amazing time to be a comic book fan, even if the current product doesn't seem to reflect that. I'm sure that my interest in the history of comics will continue to remain, and I'll be feeding that every chance I get!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ape of the Geek: King Kong – Toho (2)

kong toho 2
Species: Giant gorilla

First Appearance: King Kong Escapes (1967)

Other Appearances: None

Merchandising: As with the previous Toho Kong, this version of Kong was manufactured in toy form in Japan.

Biography: When the submarine Explorer is damaged by a rockslide, it stops at Mondo Island in the South Pacific to make repairs. While these repairs are under way, three officers, Carl Nelson, Susan Watson, and Jiro Nomura, come ashore to investigate the island with their hover car. Susan is attacked by a dinosaur called a Gorosaurus, and this island's Kong comes to her rescue. During the battle, the humans flee to the submarine, but Kong soon follows. On the way, he battles a Giant Sea Snake. Susan talks Kong into returning to his island, and the Explorer returns to New York. The news of Kong's existence reaches the scientist Dr. Who, who plans to use Kong to mine Element X, a highly radioactive substance, for his own use. Kong is captured and brought to the North Pole, where he first sights his robotic counterpart, Mechani-Kong. Dr. Who built this robot to have it mine Element X, but the radioactivity made this impossible. Kong is put under mind control and forced to mine the element, but the radioactivity allows him to escape the effects of the mind control. He leaves the Arctic and heads for Tokyo, followed by Who and his forces. The military is called in to subdue Kong, but Susan intervenes and stops Kong's rampage. Mechani-Kong arrives at the scene to put Kong under control again, but Jiro prevents this. Mechani-Kong captures Susan, and climbs Tokyo Tower, with Dr. Who threatening to drop her if he's not cooperated with. Kong engages his robotic twin in battle, saving Susan in the process. Mechani-Kong is defeated when Dr. Who's control panel is sabotaged, and Kong attacks Who's ship, destroying it. Kong returns to Mondo Island afterwards.

Powers: This version of Kong is immune to the effects of Element X, and possibly other forms of radiation, as well.

Miscellaneous: This movie was a co-production between Toho Studios and Rankin-Bass, who was at the time producing a King Kong animated series for television. The first script written for the film didn't match up with the animated series to suit Rankin-Bass. Dr. Who is the only other character to appear in both the movie and TV show. Gorosaurus next appeared in the 1968 movie Destroy All Monsters, which intended to also have Kong, but Toho's license had expired by this time. The Kong suit was later used in the Toho TV show Go! Godman, where it was called Gorilla. Dr. Who's name is sometimes spelled “Dr. Hu.”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Book and Record Set: The Gremlines - Trapped AND The Last Gremlin!

Since there's only one posting for this feature this month, I decided to give you a double serving, in order to finish up the Gremlins Book and Record Sets!

Gremlins: Trapped

Gremlins: The Last Gremlin