Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Silver Age Comic Book Advertisers

This is another post, like my Batman and Guns post, that will be regularly updated as I come across interesting stuff to add to it. To most of us comic readers, the ads were generally an annoyance, since it meant one less page of story and art. But some of the ads were well-designed or featured genuinely interesting products, and I am going to comment on those.

First up is Ideal's Motorofic Action Highway set. As you can see, the story (as found in Detective 381, November 1968) is told in comic book fashion, with lots of excitement:

Now that just sounds cool, and according to this website, it was (and is). The set shown above is the "Highway 97" version. I especially liked this discussion of the flagman:

This accessory will stop a vehicle, and allow a flagman to 'cross' in front, then allow the vehicle to proceed. Ingeniously done with a hidden turntable and magnets. The extra fun of the item comes from its own inherent lack of precision: Occasionally the vehicle runs over the obnoxious flagman.

Uniroyal had a brand of car tires called Tiger Paws. Here's a neat little animated commercial from around 1968:

The brand was successful enough that they decided to sell it to kids as well, for their bicycles:

I believe the art on that is by the famed EC artist, Jack Davis. An aside here: Bicycle tires can matter. I was out riding one time with a couple friend who were much better riders than I. But we started riding up this muddy hill and I passed them with ease. As I did, one of the other riders exclaimed "Holy smoke! Look at all that mud coming off that tire!" As it happened, I had a Mud Dawg tire on the back, and it was indeed shedding mud like water off a duck's back.

A ration of Grog for the kiddies?

Here's one of the odder products advertised. A dinosaur that grows its own tail, that you can then plant and watch grow into a beautiful shade tree? And it grows another and another?

Of course, the reality turned out a bit different:

My folks mounted Grog on an upright support of our backyard patio and I filled his teensy tail-hole with soil and planted the seed. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Maybe I hadn't been watering Grog's tail enough; after all, didn't "succulent" plants need lots of water? So, instead of the eyedropper I was using, I used a small paper cup to water the plant. It immediately overflowed the miniscule receptacle, washing all the soil and seed right out of Grog's tail-indentation! I never did find that seed (it never grew out of the backyard lawn, that's for sure) and Grog soon became another of those items buried in the garage, never to be seen again. Grog was a disaster and a rip-off, but he taught me about mail-order toys from comics, and probably discouraged me from throwing away good comic-buying allowance for such things as those "giant dinosaur balloons" and other such junk available in comic book ads.

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