1975 - ASM #149 - Subscribe with Spidey!

Well, looks like ol' Stan's brilliant scheme to get you to buy Marvel Comics wholesale to try to sell to your friends didn't work too well, since, let's face it, all else being equal, everyone would rather buy comics from the newsstand or comic book store (the latter was only starting to gain prominence at this time) than from Billy by the sandbox.

Instead, we get the far more sensible direct subscription service. Today's ad, starring Spidey himself, is among the first of what would soon come to be a mainstay ad in all Marvel comics.

Now, to me part of the joy of comics was rushing down to the comic book store and spending hours perusing the other new releases before paying for my regular fix; nobody in their right mind would consider in-store purchasing of comic books to be a chore. So to me the idea of subscription never held much water... besides, as a kid* I never had enough money to pay for all twelve issues up front.

Even worse, Amazing Spider-Man at this time was retailing for 25 cents an issue, or $3.00 a year, a full 50 cents cheaper per year than if you just bought them at the store! I guess that covers shipping, and if you happened to not live near an area that allowed you to conveniently and consistently get your comics this might be your best bet, but barring that I can't see any reason to subscribe at these rates. Hell, when they say "please allow 8-10 weeks for delivery" that would freak me out that my comics might be up to two months late!

* Two anecdotes from my childhood regarding Marvel comics, subscriptions, and Spider-Man:

When I first came upon these subscription pages as a kid I didn't understand the concept of subscribing just yet, and I actually thought the page was a checklist of different comics you owned! This line of thinking came from the fact that I actually got into Marvel comics via the 2nd edition of Marvel trading cards released in 1991 , which did have such checklists, and were a measure of coolness on the playground. I'd say that marking the pages of my comics was as heinous as vandalism but my first comics got so over-read that they're mostly in tatters anyway, if I still have them at all (and I do indeed still have a handful in my possession).

Meanwhile, in the summer of 1995, I came in "direct" contact with subscriptions when I discovered that someone in our apartment building was subscribing to Spectacular Spider-Man, and potentially other Spider-Man titles that I can't remember. At the time all large pieces of mail for the building was just piled on a table next to the mailboxes for all to see and take. So when I saw brand new sealed comics amongst the pile, no amount of morals and ethics could stop me from absconding with them before the rightful owner picked them up. I feel really embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but I think this went on for at least 3 issues, and they all, coincidentally enough, were right in the middle of The Clone Saga *(in fact the first issue I took may well have been Spectacular #226, the famous reveal of Peter Parker being the clone of Ben Reilly).

I also seem to recall that my parents found out and told me to reveal my doings to the subscriber, who took it surprisingly well, basically letting me go. Sad to say, but if I was in that guy's position I may well have wrung my younger self's neck.

*This ad for Marvel Comics subscriptions ran in Amazing Spider-Man #149, October 1975, which is even more ironic given my anecdote since this issue was the climax of the original Clone Saga story, the one whose storyline would be picked up twenty years later!

1975 - ASM #148 - Step Into a Slim Jim When You're Not a Werewolf

I first heard of Slim Jims at the same time they rose to national prominence in the 90's when they used Machoman Randy Savage to paint what's essentially, uh, mechanically separated chicken jerky, as a snack so extreme that it made a cracking whip sound when you bit into it.

I think it was the lack of the sound effect that disappointed me most about Slim Jims.

Well, turns out this in-your-face macho snack food angle had been in effect at least as early as the mid-70's, as this ad shows:

Pretty clever ad name, huh? I mean, sure it might be actually more effective to say that Slim Jims are so extreme even werewolves would eat them (which it actually implies at the end of the ad), and the final slogan of "a little less than a meal, a little more than a snack" could be worded less self-deprecatingly, but when most ads of these period are super-dry, super-quaint, or super queer, lines such as "...you can find it at the grocery store. Or at a lot of the places where you've been getting those sissy snacks" are a breath of fresh, modern air.

Of course, in a few decades time we get to the point where Machoman is yelling and whipcracking meat at your face. So you can decide for yourself whether we've advanced as a smoked-beef-snack eating species.

From Amazing Spider-Man #148, September 1975.

1975 - ASM #147 - Seriously, Evel Knievel, Towels? Fine

Am I the only one surprised that the two ads I've seen in comics so far hawking Evel Knievel merchandise sell 1) a set of action figure toys where Evel's face looks like he doesn't wanna be there, because he really needs to take a crap...

and 2) today's ad, which lets you recall the excitement of the greatest stuntman in American history with... towels?

The sad thing is the ad for the towels looks far more dynamic and exciting than the one for his toys.

Today's ad for Evel Knievel towels ran in Amazing Spider-Man #147, August 1975.

1975 - ASM #146 - Electroman Wants To Learn You!

Today frequent comic book advertiser the Cleveland Institute of Electronics steps it up a notch. It's not enough for you to be deathly jealous of your more successful friend's life to sign up for a career "in electronics."

No sir, they've called in a friend. They've called in... ELECTROMAN

That's right, Jim. Electroman wants you to know two things: one, that his name is written on his shirt. And two: don't give up on your future! CIE can help you "bust-out" into a rewarding job. Find out how. Just fill in and mail this coupon today. He'll see that you get your two free books.

That's right, Electroman's powers are... DUH... getting you free books when you mail a coupon in.

Also I assume by bust out he was comparing your career to when he just demolished someone's brick wall three panels prior.

By the way, you think CIE got the same illustrator that drew Pajama Man?

This ad for the Cleveland Institute of Electronics was from Amazing Spider-Man #146, July 1975.

1975 - ASM #145 - Wijit Works' Hover Spacecraft Won't Work, Idjit!

I've had a personal fetish for the concept of hovercraft since I was a little kid. I say concept because 26 years on, I still haven't seen a production vehicle that comes close to the promise of what hovercraft are supposed to be (i.e. something Doc Brown and Marty rode around in).

So it comes as no surprise that the following ad was something that caught MY eye when I was a kid reading comic books. What does come as a surprise was that said ad came out a full fifteen years before I was of comic-reading age!

Yes, I remember seeing the very same ads in comic books and (if I recall correctly) issues of Boy's Life in the 90's. Had I known that these ads for Wijit Works' hovercraft plans had been running since the mid-70's, and seeing that the world still hadn't been overrun by kids floating about in homemade flying machines, I wouldn't have even begun to consider paying money to Wijit Works.

 Okay, I probably still would've.

That's right, Wijit Works claims that you can build your own man-sized air car powered by an ordinary vacuum cleaner motor. My family already had an old vacuum cleaner, surely they wouldn't mind the sacrifice if they saw me sliding over the pavement in one of these things.

And best of all, the plans are FREE!

Oh wait, no it's not. The plans are three dollars, and comes with a free astronaut iron-on with order.

At this point I would be surprised if the iron-on actually worked. The cynic in me would just assume that if you had fallen for this, your parents would come home and find the following:

  • The vacuum cleaner disassembled, the house covered in dust.
  • Your bicycle disassembled (I would also assume)
  • Several t-shirts ruined and burned from attempted ironings
  • You, three dollars poorer.
Oh well, I only need to wait five more years until I can get me my own hoverboard anyway.

This ad for Wijit Works' Hovercraft plans was published in Amazing Spider-Man #145, June 1975.

1975 - ASM #144 - Count Dante Sounds Martial-Artsy, Right?

Martial arts ads usually combined Asian mysticism with American machismo, bringing the mysterious, "previously forbidden" arts to the limelight in a straightforward "I'll kick your ass you look at my girl crooked again" approach.

That's why I have no idea why John Keehan, teacher for the Black Dragon Fighting Society, aka, the deadliest man alive, and who certainly looks close enough like it in his ad, would pick for himself the decidedly un-threatening name of Count Dante.

Why he chose to render his own name in fruity cursive and surround himself in fuschia is beyond me as well.

Still, despite all this, Count Dante and his paste-on eyebrows and motorcycle helmet afro aroused the fascination of many freaky kids.

Dan Kelly's excellent article on Martial Arts ads in the Comics says of John Keehan's ad:

Danté, or his marketers--though he was more hands-on than the other comic book senseis--were ahead of their time with the "red" ad. While most ads (and even Danté's earlier ads, appearing in Marvel's black and white magazine-format comics) tiled every square inch with copy extolling the benefits of their system, Danté made himself the focus (no challenge, since he was a legendary egomaniac). Danté looked the part of the '70s martial arts master, carefully cultivating his "deadliest man alive" mystique. It's also worth noting that the picture in the "red" ad is heavily retouched. Danté can be seen as he really looked in ad number 2 (still intimidating, but slightly more rakish, and less reliant on the Ming the Merciless look than the figure in the "red" ad). One is unable to tell if he's white, Latino, or black (he was actually Irish-American); which might well have been his intention.

Count Dante even inspired filmmaker Floyd Webb to create a short film delving into Keehan's past:

Fascinating, but he'll always be fake hairy creepy white dude with cursive name and fuschia explosion.

This ad for Count Dante's Black Dragon Fighting Society ran in Amazing Spider-Man #144, May 1975.

1975 - ASM #143 - Monsterman or Sea Horses?

So let's say you're a kid in 1975. You've just saved up several weeks' worth of allowance and now you have three dollars to waste on something for sale in Amazing Spider-Man #143. You come upon two small ads, right next to each other:

The first one, apparently are lessons for how to draw monsters, taught by professional cartoonist Monsterman, who may or may not be an actual monster (I'm leaning towards may). In fact I'm assuming that monster is Monsterman's self-portrait.*

The other is an ad for TWENTY FIVE LIVE SEAHORSES. Or rather, apparently, "one pregnant male" who will give birth to as many as 25 babies. Now, I've shown before how surprisingly legit these ads for live pets are, but I'd be willing to just assume that all I'd be getting is one pregnant male and up to 25 dead black specks. But still, 3 bucks for a seahorse is pretty cool.

Which one would you pick?

*Turns out Monsterman is "Scary" Harry Borgman, an actual cartoonist who isn't satisfied with just one creepy nickname. Leif Peng compiled images from the book in a blog post. Still no word on whether or not Harry Borgman is a real monster.

These ads ran next to each other on the same page in Amazing Spider-Man #143, April 1975.

1975 - ASM #142 - Sick and Tired of This Ad!

Some things are worth more than the sum of their parts: iPhones for example. And families. In the case of ads for correspondence degrees done in the style of comic art, the sum of suckiness definitely adds up.

Today's ad is no different. It's for the Cleveland Institute of Electronics, an educational institution that still exists today, despite having a website design from the early 2000's.

Titled "I'm Sick and Tired of My Job!" it tells the story of a guy who's sick and tired of his job, as it were, at least until he finds out that his newly well-to-do friend Jim is suddenly making money "in electronics now." Apparently he did so by taking CIE courses at home.

Our swishy protagonist's story here is nowhere near as dramatic as Mr. Out Cold, but he is at least far more interesting than Joe Locksmith, with the biggest, creepiest smile in Panel 2. Seriously, you try making that face while saying "Oh, all right." and see how weird it feels.

This ad ran in Amazing Spider-Man #142, March 1975, but had been running for years earlier.