Doppelganger Week!

This week is/was apparently "Doppelganger Week" on Facebook, so it seemed appropriate to change my profile picture to:

1975 - ASM #140 - Giant Seven Foot Tall Monster Robot

"Scare friends and family when you walk towards them as Life-Size terrifying Monster Robot. This amazing Robot obeys your commands."

Spoiler alert: it's made of fiberboard:

Actually I am flabbergasted that the ad would actually show how the whole thing looked with you inside, shuffling around in a big refrigerator box, instead of drawing a fantastical super articulated robot with laser rays, in a style similar to the missile firing tank from Honor House Products.

Also interesting is that this ad sells only plans for the creation of such a monster robot, as though you couldn't just figure it out from the image provided. At least missile-firing tank was actually a big pile of fiberboard and rubber bands that arrived at your doorstep with (I assume) instructions. To get your robot you actually have to go and buy your own robot parts.

But at the very least you can be rest assured that your satisfaction is guaranteed, because you are ordering from none other than... GUARANTEE COMPANY.

From Amazing Spider-Man #140, January 1975.

Real Live Monkeys!

We're taking a little breather from the ads today, but that doesn't mean I'm skipping out on you guys. I recently came upon an article from Comic Book Resources written over a year ago talking about peoples' real life experiences with comic book mail order pets, namely monkeys!

Here's a tidbit from Jeff Tuthill, who shares his own experience with receiving his real life monkey:

I know it wasn’t over $25 bucks because I wouldn’t have bought it if it was. I remember I saved up the money to buy it, and I had it delivered to a friend’s house that lived around the block from me. He called me up when it was delivered, and there was actually postage due upon delivery, which I expected. It was less than ten bucks. I was 15 years old. When he called, I rode over on my bike. It came in this little cardboard box. I mean, I’m saying small. It was probably the size of a shoebox, except it was higher. It had a little chicken wire screen window in it. There was a cut out. All you could see if you looked in there was his face.

Sadly I skipped over the monkey ads when I started doing this blog, and by the time I realized my error they were already gone from the pages of Spider-Man. I have, however, showcased two other pet ads, one for raccoons (sold by a company that used to sell the same monkeys, and still exists today) and one for a... dragon?

I still have no clue what that creature is in the latter ad, so if you have any idea, please feel free to comment below!

1974 - ASM #138 - Buy Cologne from a Kid.

You may remember Blair and their cologne and beauty products. This classy establishment thought it was a worthwhile use of their advertising dollars to take out full page ads in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, in order to get some of that juicy comic book reader money.

Well, if you find yourself really enjoying Blair and their products, turns out you can probably just go to one of your neighborhood dweebs, and just buy from them:

In the previous Blair ad I showcased they mentioned becoming a salesman, but I assumed they (showing as much common sense as they possibly could've) were targeting that opportunity to adult comic readers, the same ones that might consider locksmithing or carpet-cleaning.

Instead, clearly you can expect yourself to be harassed by kids like Bryan LaRose of New York, whose charms may be so great that you'll find yourself buying not only a case of Blair products (this particular ad, by the way, doesn't really explain what products Blair actually makes, unless you can make out the quarter inch square image on the left), but also a bag of seeds and a subscription to GRIT.

I remember two instances in my childhood when classmates asked me to try to sell their wares to my parents. One person sold vinyl siding, the other sold knives. We eventually got both, but not from my friends nor their respective companies.

And if they had been soliciting as adults, I still don't think we'd've bought.

This ad for Blair product display kit with free trial samples and money making plans, ran in Amazing Spider-Man #138, November 1974.

1974 - ASM #137 - Buy Marvel, Sell Marvel

As I've shown time and time again, comic books were rife with ads trying to get you to make money selling things: Carpet cleaning, Locksmithing, Cologne, Magazines, seeds, and many others.

But today, we'll see an ad in a Marvel comic that encourages you to sell... Marvel comics!

Encouraging you to buy a set of 12 different comics for the price of 8 (two dollars), Spider-Man says "You can order one set or many - and sell them to your friends at full cover price with you keeping the profits!"

"That's right, greedy one. You can get 12 of Marvels (sic) greatest - before they hit the stands - for only $2.00!"

As far as I know Marvel hadn't yet started direct mail subscriptions at this point (which also sold you comics at a discount), so this is probably a precursor to that, but it's amusing to see Marvel angle it as yet another money-making opportunity, even going as far as encouraging you to be greedy!

Of course, by that Marvel knows there's almost no way you'd be able to sell ALL of the comics, since you only get one of each of the popular comics, leaving you with lower-level titles that nobody could care to buy from you (Where Monsters Dwell/Two-Gun Kid, Werewolf By Night), and especially not at the same price as they could buy crisp from the newspaper stands (the only benefit being that presumably you'd get the books a little before they hit retailers).

Maybe if you were able to buy multiple copies of hot titles, or at least pick and choose what 12 issues you could buy, you'd have a decent shot at making money, but clearly Marvel was doing this to expand readership of their less popular books.

Appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #137, October 1974.

1974 - ASM #134 - Buy Comics from Pajama-Man!

Kids nowadays don't know this, but until the 1980's the idea of comic book stores was extremely rare. Up until then comics had always been sold on newsstands, drugstores, grocery stores, etc. It wasn't until this period, the 1970's, that a market emerged for comic book back-issues, and that's when comic book specialty shops emerged.

In their infancy, many collectors stocked up by contacting each other directly, in much the same way kids exchanged baseball cards. Today's entry is a prototypical back issue seller:

That's right, Sparkling Pajama-Man, oops, I meant Howard M. Rogofsky, has 250,000 comics in stock from all the popular publishers and even movie memorabilia. To find out what he sold, you can send 60 cents for a giant catalog.

Incidentally, these catalogs was among the starting points for comic book fan-zines as well. I was "lucky" enough to have been put on such fan-zines back in 1996 when I got a letter published in a Dark Horse Star Wars comic, probably just a few years before the internet had thrown fanzines into extinction.

1974 - ASM #133 - I Can Always Sell Seeds... You Wanna Buy Some Seeds?

Last time I showed you kids how to make money and win prizes by selling magazines about rural American life. Well, if that sounds too "square" for you, I've got the cure... selling SEEDS!

That's right, sell seeds through the American Seed Company:

According to "Chipper Luschenat" from New Jersey "They are the only thing I ever tried to sell that people wanted to buy." And sadly enough, between this and selling magazine subscriptions, I'm tempted to buy the seeds. That's product that literally grows on trees.

Though I wonder how many seeds I'd actually have to sell to win a portable typewriter, cassette tape recorder, or even a bicycle (!). I could probably solve the deforestation epidemic sweeping the globe, or at least have more than a year's supply of beets.

Printed in Amazing Spider-Man #133, June 1974.

1974 - ASM #132 - Holy GRIT, Fellows!

Amazing Spider-Man #132, in which today's ad appears, had no less than FIVE half-page or larger ads that was some form of money-making opportunity involving being a salesman for some company, and many even smaller ads.

This is a lot, but not too extraordinary at the time; comics being a cheap and, one could argue, lowbrow form of entertainment (albeit one that required literacy), was read both by many lower-income members of society,  as well as up-and-coming youth looking to start making their own way in the world.

Today's ad is one of the classic, longest-running advertisers in the comic book business:

GRIT is a newspaper/magazine with roots as far back as the 1880's, and surprisingly is still printed today (!). Its founder, Dietrich Lamade, once proclaimed the following credo to its employees:

"Always keep Grit from being pessimistic. Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world. Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented. Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry, or temptation... Wherever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men. Give our readers courage and strength for their daily tasks. Put happy thoughts, cheer, and contentment into their hearts."
 Thanks, Wikipedia, who goes on to say regarding their ads in comic books:

During the first three-quarters of the 20th Century, Grit was sold across the country by children and teenagers, many recruited by ads in comic books from the 1940s to the 1970s. Approximately 30,000 children collected dimes from more than 700,000 American small town homes during the 1950s when the publication still carried the subtitle, "America's Greatest Family Newspaper." A comical ad in Richie Rich comic books aimed to recruit more young salesmen, suggesting that Richie's father, Richard Rich, made his fortune selling Grit.

Perpetually filled with stories about simpler times, GRIT now prides itself as a magazine about "rural American know-how," and you can definitely tell from the ad.

I remember seeing ads for Grit in some of my first comics, ones dating in the mid-80's (about a decade after this particular ad ran), but had encountered them in these old Spider-Man's as far back as the 60's. I always just skipped writing about it because there was something so... milquetoast about the ads.

I'll always remember the very name Grit as being somewhat unsavory... like, why the hell would I want to read something with such a name, much less sell it to my friends? "Hey aunts and uncles, may I sell you Grit?" I might as well have offered to sell them a magazine called Corn Porridge or Crud.

But I finally caved cause I couldn't keep seeing this classic ad, seeing the now-antiquated proper spelling of "FELLAS," and pretend like they didn't deserve their righteous place in Spider-Ads history.

From Amazing Spider-Man #132, May 1974.

1974 - ASM #131 - Quote Get Acquainted Unquote

It's well known my fondness for assuming double entendres whenever people use quotation marks in advertising copy.

Today's entry is further proof:

Racing legend Dan Gurney would like to "Get Acquainted" with you, and is willing to sell you 10 famous racing decals for only $1.00 for the pleasure. Care to take him up on it?

From Amazing Spider-Man #131, March 1974.

But first, a timely aside

"Hi kids, sit down, we need to talk. As I'm sure you've been hearing rumors for a while now, your daddy Sam and I have decided to get a divorce. I know this is really sad, but given the way things have been recently, we decided this is the best thing to do. We'll always have those fond memories back in 2002 and 2004, though, right?"

"Oh, also, I promise you'll have a brand new, hotter dad real soon, cause I'm gonna start dressing like a cougar!"

"Now come and give your momma Sony a kiss."

ASM #129 - Blair Iced Cologne - Who the Hell Used This??

I mean, seriously. In Amazing Spider-Man #129, we are introduced to THE PUNISHER. The purveyor of grim-and-gritty, hyper-macho anti-heroes.

And in the very same issue, we get this:

Yeah. I'm sure somewhere among the masses who watch Saturday morning cartoons, buy Nazi memorabilia, and are considering a career in locksmithing would be interested in selling Blair beauty creme. Even if you get iced cologne and creme sachet worth $6.00.

Let's put it this way. If you took Blair up on their offer, Charles Atlas can't help you.

This ad appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (The first appearance of Punisher!), February 1974.

1974 - ASM #128 - Evel Knievel Might Be Excited? Maybe?

Evel Knievel may be the most famous daredevil of all time, but from the looks of him in this ad for his Ideal Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, he doesn't seem particularly excited about the distinction:

In fact, I think it smells bad to him.

 Too bad, cause this toy was extremely popular in the 1970's, with its durable stunt cycle powered by the Gyro Rev-Booster. He even had tons of accessories like the Evel Knievel Scramble Van and, uh.. something called a swagger stick.

Here's a video of the stunt cycle in action:

This toy was manufactured by Ideal, well known for vehicle-based toys.

This ad was recently reprinted when Marvel did its Days of Marvel Past series recently, reprinting classic ads in its current comics.

This particular ad ran in Amazing Spider-Man #128, January 1974, thirty-six years ago!

1973 - ASM #127 - Hypnotize with any TV Set!

You've learned hypnosis the traditional way. In a pinch, you had your hypno-coin. But if you REALLY need to hypnotise someone (by which I mean a cute girl, with you being a creepy dude) RIGHT NOW, this is the ad for you:

"Hypnotize with any T.V. set, 1st Evening or Money-Back!" The ad exclaims. "Television repairman's accidental discovery makes anyone a hypno-tist right away. Secret method uses ordinary TV set. No electronic knowledge needed. No prior hypnotic training needed!"

Unfortunately I couldn't find specific information as to the details of the advertised method, but it probably involves bathing yourselves in TV radiation while throwing the v-hold to wacky.

But wait, there's more!

Amusingly enough the rest of the ad proclaims "Send no money! Just name and address. Pay postman $2.98 plus C.O.D. postage. Or send $3 with order and we pay postage."

So basically, send no money, or send money.

This TV hypnosis ad ran in Amazing Spider-Man #127, December 1973.

1973 - ASM #125 - Total Self Defense System

It's been a while since I featured martial arts ads, which had been numerous in the '60's.

An article I'd mentioned before by Dan Kelly, an in-depth history of martial arts ads in comic books, explains why.

After a judge ruled that Joe Weider (yes, that Joe Weider) had made false claims in his advertisements for, among other things, martial arts instruction books, many instructors (or printers of books) scaled back dramatically on their ads.

This is one of the post-judgment ads, from a company called Universal. Of this ad, Dan Kelly says (much better than I possibly could):

Those ads that persisted had an anonymity to them. The Universal people didn't have a front man, but they tried the strutting peacock method of salesmanship. Perhaps taking a cue from Danté, Universal highlighted that martial arts weren't just for ex-military men with ramrod straight hair but were also for Starsky and Hutch iconoclasts who didn't really need Asian hokum to defend themselves yet wanted an edge to make themselves all the manlier. Clip art returned, but the hats, suits and ties of the old ads were replaced with funky, dry-look dudes in gis or turtlenecks, with big sideburns and even bigger mustaches. Post-Danté, martial artists got hairier, making the Tegners, Flemings and Reumanns look even more like Coach Crewcut.
A Universal ad opens with: YOUR HANDS AND FEET WILL HAVE SUPER FANTASTIC POWER!! Your hands will have the power of an axe and you can use your elbows, knees and feet as death-dealing clubs!...The open hand can deliver a single Karate blow many times more powerful than a boxing champions punch! You'll quickly learn all the vital striking areas that will flatten the biggest and toughest assaulter...FAST!! You'll reduce any assailant to cringing helplessness, in just seconds. You'll fear no man...ever! Our TOTAL SELF-DEFENSE SYSTEM is the most DEADLY form of defense and attack ever devised.
More subdued than Weider's ads, Universal's ads removed all suggestion that the reader was bullied. Wretched clip art dabbled in cheesier metaphor, one poufy-haired karate mensch holding a fistful of dynamite. As a matter of historical curiosity, one Universal ad includes a martial art never mentioned before: Tae Kwon Do. This is the only instance I've come across in which a Korean style (versus a Japanese or Chinese style) is mentioned, hinting at the future market dominance of Korean schools.

I like the design of this ad because it reminds me of really crappy illustrations that accompanied old video game ads (which were about a decade away from prominence still). The mediocre rendering of the Karate warrior could have easily been used for an ad for Karateka.

This specific ad for Universal's Total Self-Defense System ran in Amazing Spider-Man #125, October 1973.

1973 - ASM #123 - Locksmithing Institute Could Use Charles Atlas

Happy new year everyone! And what better way to celebrate the new year by considering a new career! Well, you're in luck cause this ad will TOTALLY wanna make you rethink your current career strategy.

We've showcased more than a handful of ads done in the style of comic art. We've even done comic-style ads selling a second career. All of them are pretty square, some downright creepy, but today's entry is about as mediocre as they come (to hilarious results! I hope!)

Entitled "How Joe solved HIS 'security problem'!", this "comic strip" stars what is clearly a melancholy George W. Bush at the head, and someone who looks nothing like him in the rest of the strip.

Of course, I dunno how much you can really call this a comic when not only is the lettering in the plainest type font you can think of (at least it's actually in all-caps, like all comic lettering of the time), and utilizing only three speech bubbles, all of which were clearly done in hindsight (i.e. they seemed to originally be just boxes and had tails and rounded corners added later).

Clearly the Locksmithing Institute think they're too classy for the comic book medium, but not nearly classy enough to run an ad IN a comic book, trying to attract the kind of person who has no job and spends all day looking at Luke Cage beating up Spider-Man, as was what happened in the issue in which this ad ran.

The entire ad smacks of disrespect to the fine art of comics with the exception of one element: the half-invisible "personal instructor" that manifests itself upon reading the course materials. For ad guys who are way too conservative to use proper speech bubbles they sure had no problem featuring an invisible mad scientist on their ad.

In conclusion, this entire ad could learn a thing or two from Charles Atlas. In fact, given the title of this ad, I'm pretty sure they started learning, but then decided to stop. Clearly they are just not man enough to learn all of what Charles Atlas is trying to teach them.

That's right folks: locksmithing is what people who don't want to stand up to bullies amount to.

This ad for The Locksmithing Institute ran in Amazing Spider-Man #123, August 1973.