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.


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