Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Reasons I Love Comics (issue#4): Continued on 3rd page following.

I've always smiled at the phrase "continued on 3rd page following." It just meant that the there were two pages of advertisements coming. A printed version of the commercial break. If they didn't print the phrase, did kids think that the comic just stopped? "Stan's just not trying anymore, that spidey story only lasted five pages!"

Generally, adverts suck. I go to the cinema to watch a two-and-a-half hour Superman movie, which is a herculean task for most people's bladders, and they stick 45 minutes of adverts on first. It's always the same old shite. Telly adverts are par for the course, but they are still shit. If I see that little wanker singing 'They're gonna taste great!" once more, I'll find a lookalike of him and beat him up. The thing I hate most about adverts is the fact they just plain lie at you. They make promises they have no intention of keeping.
It's the same with comics advertising. They promised "101 uses" for a portable hand fan. They sold "X-Ray Spex" which didn't work (I bought some once in a joke shop in Kingstanding, Birmingham. They just made my hand look kind of orangey and blurry, and I definitely couldn't see any tits.) They could turn me into a muscleman if I mailed away for a Joe Weider course. The adverts in my childhood comics always intrigued me. I used to wonder what a zip code was. I wondered if Grit newspaper really was a tabloid about gravel. I used to think Sea Monkeys really did look like that. (see image below.) Notice how the daddy sea-monkey's knackers are artfully hidden behind his tail? Notice how his wife's fishy bits are also hidden from view? And the fact that the kids have no genitalia teaches us that they don't grow pudendi until puberty.

Whilst I was reading these comics as a young boy, Britain was going through recession. There were three million people unemployed. Thatcher was at the height of her dark powers. My dad was invariably on the dole. So buying stuff by mail order from the back of The Mighty Thor was never going to happen. The comic itself was a rare treat. (I only got comics bought for me, not by me with my after school wages or pocket money, whenever I was in hospital;it made me think I was lucky for contracting meningitis!) So these adverts teased me with shiny products I was never going to acquire. Then, there were the adverts that made you think you'd got a bonus story in your comic:

They were like a late'70s version of a DVD extra. They were for Hostess "Twinkies" and "Fruit Pies" or Oreo cookies. They were one-page comic strips usually involving an alien menace that could be only stopped by Marvel superheroes filling their enemies' fat faces with American sweets. It just encouraged sports-shunning kids who read comics (ie. nerds like me) to fill their own fat necks with sweets. (Although not with anything made by Hostess; it was probably a Spar own-brand swiss roll.) This also sold me a lie. I thought American chocolate was good enough to stop an alien invasion, or at the very least a bank robber, until a good friend of mine bought me a giant Hershey bar back from the Big Apple. It literally tasted of vomit. It had a bile-y aftertaste which made me want to create my own sick, which would definitely taste better.

Then there are the ads which I look retrospectively on with horror. This ad is trying to sell you "black face"! I mean, Marvel did a lot of good work by introducing several black superheroes in the '60s and '70s. There was T'Challa, Luke Cage, the Falcon, Storm and Blade. Yet they undo all that by running this ad! It still has charm, I suppose, as a period piece, and it shows how far we've come in a short time.

So. Comics are great. Even the adverts are ace!


pid said...

I to wanted to send off for all the neat looking gadgets at the back of comics. Although I was limited to the occassional copy of dandy! Also I could never afford to buy them, or even ask for the money. Ah wasted youth... not having all the cheap plastic crap we want.

Jemima said...

*shaking fist* Damn you advertisement features! They always conned me. I'm so gullible and trusting.

mick said...

You must never, ever send off for stuff from the backs of comics. Invariably it meant snipping coupons out, which means irredeemable mutilation of the comic!
No matter how tempting the set of American Civil War toy soldiers looks!

jonni said...

See, this is why I read British comics in my formative years, that had adverts for proper things - like bikes (including the one that went; do not adjust your comic, he's riding an atomic - genius)...

Also, can't watch that Frosties advert without hearing Charlie Brooker singing "even to men with cancer of the prostaa-ate".

mick said...

I didn't see Charlie Brooker do that, but reading it made me laugh. Nice to have you with us, Jonni. I mostly read British comics as well, but I remember their adverts for boring stuff like milk, and the Green Cross Code Man.
I read an old 2000ad from about '84/'85 the other day which had an advert in it for 'Optimus Prime' from The Transformers. It cost £25 then! No wonder I had to make do with a hoop and a stick!

mick said...

Interesting article here on the rumours surrounding the 'death' of said Frosties boy:

Cut and paste for lots of fun.