When I was a little kid, I loved the ads in comic books. Finally, I decided to answer one of the ads…like 300 stamps for 10 cents. I had 10 cents!
And, like magic, the stamps arrived in the mail. And more arrived. And more arrived. And then my mom, curious, snooped through the mail and realized the stamp company had started billing me. I had accidentally bought into a monthly subscription! And that was the end of me ordering from comic book ads.
But I still look at the ads as I read through old comics! Here are some interesting ones I’ve found:
Automatic Firing Machine Gun:
Yes, kids…it “develops deadly target skill.” This one purports to be an accurate reproduction of a U.S. military model. I mean, it fires pellets…but outside of that, promises an authentic experience. Yours for $1.98 & includes “full-size target!”
Get An (Almost) No-Cost Real Live Tiny Dog
Now, what grandmotherly nice Mrs. Ruth Long is doing here is offering a stake in a good old pyramid scheme. But you get a real live miniature dog! And you can keep it in a shoebox!
These poor animals, caught within Granny’s nefarious machinations! Oh, the pathos!
“Quick Change” Facial Hair
Here’s one I always used to see in old comics, but never actually stopped to check out. Basically: fake mustache, sideburn, and “van dyke” beard combinations. Would this really “fool” anybody? But when you buy from “Masculiner Co.” you’re guaranteed a manly-looking crop of faux facial hair!
German War Memorabilia By “Adolf”
Yikes. I found a couple of these ads in early ’70s Marvel horror comics (and not even the more adult magazines…I’m talking about the comics). Yup, and it’s exactly what it looks like! (Though just in case it wasn’t obvious, the company is named “Adolf’s”–get it???) Who at Marvel ad sales approved these?
It’s recommended for “class experiments and parties”…but you all know those kids are gonna sit around in a circle and inhale that stuff and talk like Mickey Mouse. I love the simplicity of the address: HELIUM! I want helium, please.!
Perhaps you are noticing a trend here in these comic ads. What better way to get your child into the love of stamp collecting than buying them an entire set of Hitler stamps? And then you can buy the “German War Memorabilia” from Adolf’s several pages later to complete the look!
Cartoon For Money
Now, there was a whole genre of these ads playing to the reader’s assumed glory dreams of being a comic artist. The ads would promise a career full of money, fame, and sometimes broads. “Success” (which is apparently the name of the above ad’s company) was assured.
“Hypnotize With Any TV Set”
What could possibly go wrong?
Exploding Hand Grenade “Exact Replica”
OK, I have the same problem with this that I had with the automatic machine gun earlier. It says it looks and works like a real grenade…and even explodes automatically. But of course…it doesn’t work like a real grenade, because if it did “Honor House Products Corp” would have left a trail of death in its wake. And what does “exact replica” even mean?!
In this panel from a comic book-style locksmith school ad, our protagonist notes cheerfully to his partner that “with all the violence, there’s a great need for locksmiths.” They apparently live in the same 1970s universe as Dirty Harry and Death Wish.
Raquel Welch Inflatable Pillow
Yes, before there were anime body pillows there was the Raquel Welch inflatable model. “Keep her for yourself or show her to your friends. Livens up party when everyone sees and feels this great gag item.” And made of “rugged vinyl” for easy cleaning.
“Order now while they’re still legal”
Pet Baby Raccoons
…because there weren’t enough problems with the tiny dogs!
David McCallum Life-Size Poster