It’s been a long time since Dino Drac’s last Comic Book Ads review, and even longer since I dived into my specific favorite type of them: The tiny-sized ads that were all mashed together on the classifieds pages.
That’s where the real treasures were! Fifty antique coins for a dollar! Legitimate monkey skulls! An Atlas body in seven days!
I’ve collected nine of my favorites. It should have been ten, but I got tired. Enjoy them as I have.
(Alpha Flight #26, September 1985)
The fine print indicated that your meteor would look nothing like the illustration, but that wouldn’t have kept me from expecting exactly that. What a perfect little meteor doodle! The rough edges… the chocolatey colors… and my God, the CRATERS!
Still, five bucks does seem high for these, especially in 1985. That’s probably more than museum gift shops were charging, and museum gift shops already existed on the principle that they could charge five times more than was reasonable for everything they sold. Exclusivity begets twenty dollar geodes, or some shit.
I still would’ve bought one. That doodle is too powerful.
Amazing Mystery Shrimp!
(The Transformers #22, November 1986)
It looks like the people behind Sea-Monkeys didn’t have exclusive rights to those brine shrimp, because here were some other jokers, selling the exact same kits. The difference here is that the proprietors employed no illusions about what they were selling. These weren’t lanky humanoids with bright blue eyes who somehow played underwater checkers without any of the pieces drifting away. They were SHRIMP, dammit, and that was good enough.
For as much flak as the Sea-Monkey people took for their misleading advertisements, I think they may have been doing themselves a disservice. I find the idea of “Amazing Mystery Shrimp” even more appealing, at least in part because what they were promising me looked like a Facehugger.
An easy “yes” for purchasing. Even if I wasn’t satisfied, there was a money back guara…
There was a “money back gua.”
The Original Diamond Glove!
(Alpha Flight #15, October 1984)
If you weren’t already thinking that this was a “Michael Jackson glove,” the fact that the ad’s from 1984 should sway you. With shipping, you were paying nineteen bucks, which — at least while within the scope of prices seen at the back of comic books in the early 1980s — made this like buying a ten story castle in the middle of New York City.
You had to be REALLY hot for Michael Jackson to consider this. For that price, you could’ve purchased NINE Amazing Mystery Shrimp kits, and still had 95 cents leftover for… I don’t know… Blackjack gum.
Sorry, Diamond Glove Incorporated. Your risk-to-reward scale lady looks like she’s doing the mambo.
Build Your Own Personal Jet-Pack!
(Superman #72, October 1992)
I’m a little confused. Were you paying for a kit with instructions, or just the instructions? It says it comes with plans and a manual. Aren’t plans manuals? Aren’t manuals plans? Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?
I suppose “plans” does in rarer cases hold the definition of “materials,” and given the exorbitant $20 fee, I can’t imagine that all we got was a tutorial.
Either way, it suggested a scenario wherein kids could become Boba Fett, and that’s awesome. The Beushausen Brothers knew just what card to play, which was fitting, since “Beushausen Brothers” sounds like a name you’d give to the blackjack mini-bosses in some old casino-themed Nintendo game.
I wonder what the gimmick was? Clearly no one became the Rocketeer by way of this, or we’d be living in a much better world today. I’d sure as hell spend less time writing about comic book ads if I could fly around with a fucking rocket pack.
(Captain Atom #15, May 1988)
I didn’t have this, but I’m pretty sure that my best friend did. His whole bedroom was full of car posters. I had a few, but only enough to meet the unspoken quota regarding male children and fancy car posters. My friend’s room, though… it was saturated.
And I seem to remember one especially long Lamborghini poster, positioned so poorly that it was actually curved around the corner of two walls. He definitely had SOME giant car poster that did that, and it drove me nuts. It was unnecessary to the point of seeming intentional, but who would do such a thing on purpose? Fortunately, in my old age, my OCD is now limited to being aggressive with light switches.
Giant Land Hermit Crabs!
(Infinity Inc. #2, May 1984)
Yep, I would’ve been all over this. Maybe not in 2014 when I’m more sensitive to the plight of crabs, but as a kid? DEFINITELY. And once again, it would have been the doodle that sold me. Belial in a shell!
The sellers were fortunate to have such a stellar artist, but they were also fortunate to live on 76 Maple Street. I just can’t imagine anything but love and sweetness coming from a place like “Maple Street.” It’s a street name that turns skeptics into blind believers, even if in a completely subconscious way.
Magic Crystals & Fossils & Gems!
(Superman #72, October 1992)
“Prehistoric poop.” Ten dollars for “prehistoric poop.” Ten dollars for “prehistoric poop” by a company named “Sassy Productions,” which operated from an address that read like untraceable government code. There were leaps of faith and there was just being crazy. No poop for me.
(Captain Atom #15, May 1988)
The figures were assuredly no better than plastic green army men, but who could resist the temptation of FIFTY figures for that price?
The set was full of play potential, too. Romans battling ninjas, ninjas battling Civil War soldiers… it was like The Warriors gone global. Global and omnitemporal.
(Marvel Two-In-One #19, September 1976)
My best guess is that this was an everyday glow stick, and yes, back in 1976, you could get away with making a big deal about those. Even ten years later, I remember treating glow sticks with incredible respect, mostly because they only turned up during the Halloween season. Also, to a kid’s brain, they seemed to be filled with radioactive demon spit.
PS: If you like junk like this, I encourage you to pick up Mail-Order Mysteries, a terrific book that collects tons of old comic book ads, along with photos of what kids actually received. It turns out that I’ve been friendly with the author for a year now, never realizing that this was his book. Sorry, Kirk!