Vintage Comic Book Ads, Volume 12!

Torn from the pages of comics that were far more valuable before said tearing commenced, here’s another batch of comic book ads from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

TMNT Cereal with Pizza-Shaped Marshmallows!
Ghost Rider #13, May 1991

I love how Ralston kept kids interested in Ninja Turtles Cereal with a series of increasingly bizarre gimmicks and giveaways — like the time they included packets of Honey Ooze for kids to drip over it, or the time they handed out free TMNT-themed cereal bowls.

This ad announced what may have been my favorite of the TMNT Cereal promotions: PIZZA-SHAPED MARSHMALLOWS!

They looked as much like decaying teeth, but with cereal marshmallows, kids gave companies a lotta rope. Given how prominent pizza was in Ninja Turtles lore, it’s wild that Ralston didn’t start off with that shape.

The pizza-shaped marshmallows didn’t taste like pizza, but I bet that some kids convinced themselves otherwise. (Sort of like how I used to swear that red construction paper tasted like cherries.)

Mile High Comics!
DC Super Powers #2, October 1986

One of my biggest geeky regrets is that I never ordered from a Mile High Comics ad. It’s not like I never had the opportunity — those ads seemed to be in every goddamned comic book for the better part of twenty years.

Mile High was famous for its “super sale” ads, where collectors could pluck issues for 50 cents each, or sometimes even less. It was the mail order version of rummaging through cheap longboxes at a local comic show.

I came close to ordering plenty of times. Even used to sit around with a legal pad, writing up enormous order forms. Not sure why I never pulled the trigger. Was it because my life savings consisted of whatever I could find under the couch cushions?

Even so, just daydreaming about mailmen dropping off suitcase-sized boxes of comics made these ads some of my favorites.

She-Ra: Princess of Power!
Care Bears #4, May 1986

I can’t see She-Ra without remembering the dumb “gender boundaries” of my youth. I was so self-conscious about watching this supposed “girls’ show” that I never admitted it at school. At home, I told my mother that I “only watched it for Hordak,” as if she was aware that I was even in the room, let alone keeping tabs on what cartoons were on.

The irony was that I probably preferred She-Ra’s show to He-Man’s. The villains were cooler, the stakes were higher, and I always felt super accomplished after spotting Loo-Kee in a rainbow-leafed bush.

I love that those boundaries — silly at best, super damaging at worst — are routinely challenged today. Keep it up, world. You’re not as bad as the newspapers say.

Tales from the Crypt!
Sandman #29, August 1991

The fact that there was a Tales from the Crypt promo in a comic book — even a more adult-targeted one like Sandman — illustrates how much of a gateway drug that show was for kids who were still iffy about horror.

Tales from the Crypt debuted in the summer of 1989. While I was into some “horror things” by that point, my threshold was pretty conservative. That series pushed me way out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t naturally eager to see guys get their eyeballs pecked out by vultures, but there I was, watching the Crypt Keeper crack the fuck up over exactly that.

It’s not like I was some aberration, either. If the show wasn’t resonating with kids, it wouldn’t have gotten an animated spinoff. Kinda amazing that Tales from the Crypt — which at times was downright severe — ended up being a more effective wading pool for young horror fans than the spookfests that were made for them!

50 Comic Classics!
Iron Man #203, February 1986

Many of my favorite comic book ads were come-ons for mysterious products. Since the companies strived to be as enticingly vague as possible, you rarely knew exactly what you’d be getting. Ordering from those ads usually involved leaps of faith.

Like with this one, the me-of-1986 would’ve absolutely believed that they were selling stacks of 50 full-blown comic books… even if the me-of-now realizes that $14.95 was way too little for that, even by 1986 standards.

From what I can gather, what you actually got were 50 “Pocket Classics” books — which were smaller than paperbacks, and printed in black and white. It was still an awesome deal, and many folks have fond memories of those books.

In fact, I’d go so far to say that they undersold the set. This was a far cry from ordering a “six foot monster” and receiving sheets of photocopied body parts to tape together. Nice work, Academic Industries!

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