10 Awesomely vintage comic book ads

Cavalcade Comics

I collected comic books from about fourth grade through high school. And even into college a bit. So I’ve got a pretty big collection of comics in my garage right now. I had dipped into the collection the last few months to look for any comics having to do with werewolves as that will be this year’s Halloween theme.  While I had some of my favorite issues out, I started scanning the covers and putting them up on my Flickr Photostream.  I also started scanning some of the advertisements found within the comic books.  Many times, these are even more memorable than the comic book itself.  Many of the toy and video game ads are awesome, but you also see many other ads that showed up for decades within many different comics. Many of them are pretty crazy awesome, if you know what I mean.

Here are some of my favorite comic book ads that I’ve come across in my collection.  Click any of the images to make them BIGGER.

Charles Atlas B&W Charles Atlas Color
Charles Atlas – One of the most famous comic book ads in existence.This ad introduced the “98 pound weakling”, named Mac, who birthed the cliche of having sand kicked into his face by a bully. It’s a classic ad that also got a sequel where a new “weakling”, Jack, is bullied at a school dance instead of a beach.

Sea Monkeys Super Sea Monkeys
Sea Monkeys – Another ad that EVERYONE on Earth knows about because it was just that popular.  Sea Monkeys.  On the left you see your normal Sea Monkeys ad from 1972.  On the right, however, you can see a 1978 ad for Super Sea Monkeys.  These aren’t your average, every day Sea Monkeys, these bitches are SUPER.  They grow twice as fast (and probably die twice as fast, too). I bet the inventor of the Sea Monkeys is right now livin’ the good life in Tahiti drinking umbrella drinks and partying with butt-naked freaks.

Rubick's Cube Lube
Cube Lube – This ad is like a flaming hot supernova of AWESOME.  Cube.  Lube.  “We’ve got what it takes to really move your cube!!!”  I’m speechless.

Spalding Street Ball ad
Spalding Street Ball ad – Originating in the ’70s, this ad could be found in comics all the way into the mid ’80s.  One of my favorite ads that’s on the back of at least 75% of my comic book collection.  I also love the artwork.  Probably because it’s drawn by Mad Magazine superstar Jack Davis.  Check out Davis’ awesome Back to the Future cover for Mad Magazine #260.  I don’t want to burst Mr Barry’s bubble, but there is NO WAY that jump shot was a 30 footer.  It doesn’t even look like it’s a 3-point shot.  He’s lucky if it’s a 20 footer.  A 30 footer would be from almost half court.

Generic Wrist Radio gadget
“Amazing” Wrist Radio gadget – This particular ad is from 1964.  A generic version of the Dick Tracy radio watch.  I love the low tech quality of this ad and the gadget itself.  It lets you listen to your favorite radio programs and send secret messages to friends that also have the same watch.  You know what it doesn’t do?  Tell time.  So even if you wanted to listen to your favorite radio program, you’d still have to ask someone with a real watch the time in order to know when your radio show is starting.  Yeah, very convenient.  The ad says it comes with a private earphone, but I wonder how convenient that “private” ear phone is.  It was 1964, it was undoubtedly the equivalent of putting a catcher’s mitt to the side of your head.

Polaris Nuclear Sub
Polaris Nuclear Sub – Call me crazy, but I seriously doubt you could throw this bitch in the swimming pool and fire torpedoes at your sister.  My guess is it’s actually made of cardboard and meant to be used as a playset in the den, not launched into the Pacific and sent to attack Japan.  However it was probably worth $7 to find out.

Selena's Comics Hotline
Selena’s Comics Hotline – From 1991 when the 1-900 boom was at it’s peak.  This was the way to get up to date news and reviews before the internet, and it only cost you 1.95/minute plus .75 each additional minute (like AOL in the early days).  The ad says you can also call for trivia questions.  ???  I should call and pay 1.95/minute to be asked trivia questions about comic books?  No, thanks.  I have 1-900-BLONDES on speed dial.

Olympic ad 2 Olympic ad 1
Olympic Prizes or Cash – Another ad that could be found throughout the ’80s in almost every comic book.  These mail order schemes had kids sell seeds, stationary, greeting cards,  books, etc to their friends and family and they could either get points or cash based on how much they sell.  If they chose points, they could use them to get the prizes they have listed in the ad.  Look at some of that stuff.  TVs, keyboards, bikes, video games.  How could you resist?  I’m not sure how they scale the points, though.  For the Magnavox “portable” TV set, it says you have to sell 75 items.  I mean, it doesn’t sound like it’d be hard to sell 75 greeting cards.  What do I know, though.  I was WAY too lazy to try anything like this when I was a kid.  I just liked the pretty colors and the super hero graphic.  Still do.

life size inflatable doll
Judy the Life Size Inflatable Doll – From 1970.  A life-like inflatable woman named Judy.  Sold in a comic book presumably to kids because I don’t know that many men read comic books in 1970.  WTF?!  Maybe this should have come with a free tube of Cube Lube?

Mattel M-16 Marauder
Mattel M-16 Marauder –  From 1967, back when guns looked like they could actually kill you.


15 Responses to “10 Awesomely vintage comic book ads”

  1. I remember most of them. I think I may have tried to sell the Olympic stuff at one point, the greeting cards if I remember correctly. I think I ended up getting a 110 camera. Woohoo!

  2. What about GRIT? I saw those ads alot and even met kids that sold it. Required a lot of walking to get a bike you would be to tired to ride.

  3. smurfwreck Says:

    Have you ever seen the Mail-Away sub episode of Get a Life? Good stuff. The Cube Lube is crazy awesome and sickening all at the same time…

  4. Not too sure how I found this blog but glad I did find it. Think I was looking for something else on google. Dont think I agree 100% with what you say, hopefully you will be adding to this site. Great website

  5. Well after reading this I thought I’d leave a little note. Obviously I’m giong to have to come back to check out some more of your posts ! Thank.

  6. Charles Atlas®, “Dynamic-Tension®”, the ads “The Insult That Made A Man Out of Mac®” and “Hey Skinny®” are registered trademarks owned by Charles Atlas, Ltd. all rights reserved 2010 http://www.charlesatlas.com

  7. It’s surprising how many dudes I know are in relationships with Asian women. I’ll confess that I do find some Asian women to be very beautiful, but what do you think the appeal is really based on? Why do some white guys only date Asian women…can someone explain the attraction to me?

  8. Folo Watkins Says:

    Nostalgic. I agree about Grit, though, and really think you should have included one of those superhero-Hostess snack ads. As for the inflatable woman, I have a sneaking opinion the manufacturer was just getting a toe hold, “knowing” what the comic reader’s future social life would be like!

  9. I’ve been collecting mags, comics and the like for a long time as well.
    This is cool blog I found it another attempt to run the old art school advertising for the Art Institutes.I attended there in the eighties. Did you happen to run across any of those or know which comics or other magazine they were printed in or on (the back cover probably) Remember this was before the Joe Kubert school of cartooning prevalant in DC comics during the latter of the so-called bronze age period. Probably early eighties are the ones.

  10. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  11. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the
    same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work
    on. You have done a wonderful job!

  12. Sea Monkeys were not invented, they are Brine Shrimp. The little creatures naturally go into stasis when the water around them evaporates and come “back to life” when rehydrated.
    The ads for some of the Submarines actually say they are made from 200 lb strength fiberboard, a little stronger than normal cardboard.
    I always wanted one of these subs and the x-ray glasses growing up in the 60’s.

  13. Tony nastro Says:

    Where can.i.get copy of geroge Atlas work out

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: