1971 - ASM #102 - Charles Atlas Made Me a Man

Ahh, here we go. After countless bodybuilding programs over the course of almost 10 years, we come across the one that, to me, is the icon of icons:

Charles Atlas, the Man that Made a Man Out of "Mac."

From Wikipedia:
"The Insult that Made a Man out of Mac"

In this, the full-length version, the protagonist, "Mac," is accosted on the beach by a sand-kicking bully while his date watches. Humiliated, the young man goes home and, after kicking a chair and gambling a ten-cent stamp, subscribes to Atlas's "Dynamic-Tension" program. Later, the now muscular protagonist goes back to the beach and beats up the bully, becoming the "hero of the beach." His girl returns while other females marvel at how big his muscles are. (An earlier but otherwise almost identical version, "How Joe's Body Brought Him Fame Instead of Shame," debuted in the 1940s.

Wikipedia's article on Charles Atlas, born Angelo Siciliano (I guess there's not much of a way to un-Italian that, huh) has an entire section devoted to his ads, which ran as early as the 1940's.

That's right, apparently the first incarnations of these ads first ran in the 1940's (the first version was titled "How Joe's Body Brought Him Fame Instead of Shame"). In fact, Charles Atlas, born in 1892(!) and whose heyday was in the 1920's and 30's, died in December of 1972, just a little over a year after the publication date of this ad in Amazing Spider-Man, at the ripe old age of 80.

And this is one of the earliest appearances of Charles Atlas ads in Spider-Man!

When I was a kid, the oldest comics I had were right in this era, around 1973, and this specific Atlas ad always stood out to me as what ancient comic book ads were like (they were gone by the 90's, whereas novelty gag ads were still pretty common). So when I started further back, reading Spider-Man from the beginning, and seeing scores of ads for other bodybuilders (some still alive and famous to this day), I was confused. When ol' Chuck here finally appeared in the 70's, his smooth, tanned physique looked pudgy compared to Arnold, and the comic's art style looked like it was done by Siegel and Schuster.

Well, what I thought was weird advertising anachronism turned out to be just that. Except, in this case, they were still peddling the product. In FACT, they're STILL peddling the product! I guess you can't expect any less from the "The World's Most Perfectly Developed Man."

This particular ad appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #102, November 1971.

1971 - ASM #100 - Ahhnold Part Zwei (Joe Weider Part Drei)

Joe Weider's ads have been featured twice on this here blog, including one featuring Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous for wielding a sword at state budget meetings.

Those ads came out in 1970, a year prior today's featured at, seen at left.

According to Wikipedia, by 1971 Arnold was fast on his way to becoming a superstar, having racked up a crapload of bodybuilding awards, most recently the Mr. Olympia title for a third year in a row.

So why the hell, when Arnold's name was used in an earlier ad, is his name NOT featured in this ad? I think this was still early in Arnold's career where just having his face and body wouldn't be enough for John. Q. Nerd to make the connection, but his looks, name, and title put together would've made for an enticing, ahem, package.

Appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #100, September 1971.

1971 - ASM #100 - Out Cold!

This is the second "comic-book-style" ad I've featured, and while not nearly as creepy and nonsensical as the previous one, this one is equally as hilarious. Okay, maybe a little less. But it's still good.

For some awesome reason, the ad numbers the comic book panels, assuming for some reason that after 100 issues of Spider-Man, we still don't know how to navigate a comic book page. But for our purposes, how about a panel-by-panel commentary?

1) Wacky, wobbly letters emanating from an impact means, I'm pretty sure, that when "those boxes fell on me at work," the crashing sound actually said "OUT COLD."

2) "Nancy, I'm boxed in... in more ways than one!" I'm assuming unclever puns is one of those ways.

3) "I'm still out cold!" Yep, definitely one of those ways. Potentially, the only way.

4) Woman thought bubble: "Earlier this morning he was wiping his ass with a throw pillow, this is a huge improvement in a long line of physical and mental rehab."

5) Graduating took so little time the education was worth only the smallest panel on this page!

6) Okay, this totally reminds me of this recent SNL sketch:

7) "That's right, the future's ten times as bright at my new job... looking at lasers!"

8) (editor's note: the form he's about to sign is the government subsidy for hiring special-needs employees)

On a final note, the mail-in coupon is the very first time I've ever seen anyone abbreviate the state of Pennsylvania as "PENNA." Which sounds like the plural of something dirty. Like Pennsylvania. Hell, the same exact address appears in the top right with the proper state abbreviation.

From Amazing Spider-Man #100, September, 1971. I will act as though this was also the 100th edition of this blog.

1971 - ASM #98 - Puff the Magic Dragon

Look, I really want to just say "what the fuck...?" and leave this post be, but I actually tried to research this (for like five minutes, you know) and figure out what this could've possibly been. No such luck.

I assumed it was just some squirmy rubber toy inside a plastic egg, but the ad says:

  • "A lovable (sic) live pet in a colorful plastic egg!"
  • "Will eat RIGHT OUT OF YOUR HAND!"
  • "FREE food supply."

What the hell IS this "Live mystery egg"?? A salamander? A tiny shark? A leech? An immigrant? Whatever the hell "Puff the Magic Dragon" this ad is actually selling is, I would be freaking SCARED AS HELL to find that colorful plastic egg inside a cardboard box, and opening it.

Unboxing a product like this is the kind of stuff that YouTube was made for, if only it existed in 1971.

From Amazing Spider-Man #98, July 1971.

1971 - Avengers #85 - Bug Bombastic

Man, what the hell was up in the early 70's? Apparently after the 60's ended with moon landings and music festivals, the country converted their brand new outlook by consuming airplane and weirdo automobile model kits and toys.

And really, I can't think of anything weirder than this "Bug Bomb" novelty model car kit, which takes the already bulbous proportions of a VW Beetle and squishes it even more. All courtesy of cartoonist and car designer Dave Deal, who, apparently, had no qualms about bringing out the worst of both worlds to life.

I kid, I kid, it's not hideous for what it is. But in the grand scheme of things, what a creepy fucking that is.

Appeared in Avengers #85, February 1971 (where Spider-Man appeared briefly in a cameo, apparently).

1971 - ASM #92 - Hot Wheels!

After two posts about an art style prevalent in advertising from 1970's to the '80's, talking about both its positives and negatives, here's an ad from way back in 1971 for Hot Wheels Sizzlers toy cars that practically screams of something more modern.

Modern as in it was composed in Microsoft Word after being colored using the paintbucket in Microsoft Paint modern. Modern as in using a justified text block with a font that doesn't care if it gives you a headache trying to read it modern.

Modern as in those boxes between sentences looks like what happens when I download a random text file from the internet and viewed it on Notepad when it was clearly composed in Wordpad modern.

Specifically, modern as in 1992-2002 modern. 

So really, not all that modern.

From Amazing Spider Man #92, January 1971.

1970 - ASM #91 - "It's Really Cool!"

Despite what I said last time about that particular ad's art-style, I actually am fond of the line-art style employed by that ad and this one, which seems to use thin pen markers (instead of brushes) for a more technical but still rough style. Similar to how I'd described it before, it has the look of someone tracing preexisting images without a ruler, or hardly without ever lifting the pen off the paper.

As far as the ad itself goes, I can't figure out what the hell kind of car that thing is... it's a hot rod that was meant to haul ice? You'd think I was crazy but that's clearly a block of ice tied to the back of that damn hot rod. Maybe that was the style at the time. Stick a feather in your pimp hat and put a block of ice in your trunk.

As the ad itself says, "It's really cool."

This ad for Monogram's Ice-T car model kit was printed in Amazing Spider-Man #91, December 1970

1970 - ASM #89 - The Red Baron Flies!

You know what's cute about this ad? It looks like some ad guys mocked the whole thing up with photos of kids and real Charles Schulz drawings, and then one of the ad guys' teenage sons who draws pretty good, I guess, traced over the whole thing with marker. "No pencil sketching first, Mom!"

Seriously though, it's a cute and fun ad and a sign of cuter and funner ads to come. I personally like the word/thought bubble you can fill in yourself (instead of "Curse you, Red Baron!" I wouldn't be surprised to see "Curse you, Whitey!" written instead), and the typical mundane airplane model stand shaped like the front of Snoopy's doggy door.

From Amazing Spider-Man #89, November 1970.

1970 - ASM #87 - Joe Weider part deux

In the last post I talked about bodybuilder and trainer Joe Weider and the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Today we have another Weider ad:

Like in many previous ads we'd showcased, this one advertises a product meant to increase one's weight... a concept that seems utterly ridiculous now (except in hardcore bodybuilding circles, but seriously, those products just end up making fat people even fatter, with muscles or not).

This particular ad, according to Wikipedia, went on an interesting journey:

In 1972 Weider and his brother Ben found themselves a target of an investigation led by U.S. Postal inspectors. The investigation involved the claims regarding their nutritional supplement Weider Formula No. 7. The product was a weight gainer that featured a young Arnold Schwarzenegger on the label. The actual claim centered on consumers' being able to "gain a pound per day" in mass. Following an appeal wherein Schwarzenegger testified, Weider was forced to alter his marketing and claims.
 This ad doesn't feature a young Arnold (looking closely the boy's name is Walter Leno), but our previous showcase does. I have yet to find an ad that put the two of them together.

From Amazing Spider-Man #87, August 1970

1970 - ASM #84 - Ahhnold

Fine, the first thing I noticed about the ad was the girl with the huge knockers and curves that are obviously pre-plastic surgery. Damn, she must be like 60-something now. I will assume that she is just as hot and her boobs even bigger.

Anyway, the second thing I said to myself was, "Wow, that guy looks a lot like Arnold." So I went and looked for the name, and instead saw Joe Weider , so I just assumed that the man in the photo was Joe Weider who just happened to look like Arnold.

Well, turns out I'm an idiot. Not only does it say Arnold Schwarzenegger on the middle-left there (albeit in small letters), it turns out Joe Weider was born in 1919, which woulda made him an incredibly good-looking 50 year old when these ads first started appearing.

Further research has this to say about Arnold and Joe Weider's relationship:

The first thing Arnold managed to do was work out an agreement with Joe Weider. Arnold would provide information on how he trained and allow Weider to publish photographs of him in his bodybuilding magazines. In exchange, Arnold got a small salary, an apartment and a car, but even better was that the arrangement provided Arnold the freedom to train four to five hours a day.

Source: Official Arnold Schwarzenegger website.

From Amazing Spider-Man #84, May 1970.

Interesting trivia for the day: Blogger knows how to spell Schwarzenegger, and knows when I spell it wrong.

1970 - ASM #82 - Nobody Loves the Hulk

Oh my god. Why had I never heard of this before??

I'm utterly speechless in my lack of knowledge of this incredible gem until just now, when I found this ad for this song.

That's all for me today, the song speaks for itself better than I can.

Ad is from Amazing Spider-Man #82, March 1970.

In-depth Martial Arts comic book ads article

Dan Kelly, on an  MSNBC blog, of all places, wrote up an insanely in-depth look at martial arts ads in comic books, including our personal favorite here, Yubiwaza!

Check here for all our local coverage on martial arts advertisements, but for a Ken-Burnsian expose, check out Dan Kelly's article, written way back in... oh, the article doesn't say. I'll just assume he wrote it after I started my blog, and that he ripped me off because I was so awesome.

1969 - ASM #78 - "Super-Me" ME

Okay, fine "Get the biggest comic book cover you've ever seen... and YOU ARE ON IT!" is a cheesy idea, but it's just the kind of crap a clueless parent would think would make them the world's greatest in the eyes of their kid.

I remember my dad got me one of those books you buy at the mall that lets you enter your kid's name so it looks like it starred me. It involved dinosaurs and also featured a friend of mine named Paolo... apparently my dad just came up with this name off the top of his head, but I had a friend of two with names resembling "Paolo" enough that I was still impressed. At least I was when I was nine and had likely never seen my name in print. Also the book was about dinosaurs.

Another time in Disneyland I thought it would be cool to get a Return of the Jedi t-shirt with my face pasted onto Luke's and my mom's on Leia's. I don't think I ever actually wore that shirt.

This ad sells something in between that and trick newspapers you can get at theme parks and carnivals, which are usually good enough for a chuckle. After all, why do nerds love comic books like Spider-Man and Superman if not because they closely identified with nerdy student Peter Parker and mild-mannered reporter Superman? If a comic book says you're a super hero, that's as good as true.

EXCEPT... this ad doesn't even TRY to turn you into a superhero at all, or any comic book character. I think you can see how: all it seems to do is print your photo in a box! They couldn't hire one of those suckers that got roped into those home-comic-book-drawing-courses to just draw someone resembling you as some sort of He-man? I'm sure all it would've taken was a template drawing of a boy with the same skin color, hair color, and length, and the customer's imagination would've filled in the rest.

Instead you get a blow up poster (no personalized comic book contents inside or nothin') with your pimply face pasted on it. You would've had to wait another seven years before you could swap that thing out with Farrah Fawcett.

But seriously, though, if my dad had gotten me a fake comic book where my name replaced any instance of "Peter Parker" and even just colored Peter Parker's face brown, I would've thought I was freaking awesome.

From Amazing Spider Man #78, November 1969.