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.


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