Comic Book Advertisements
July 25, 2011
You will worship Hostess Fruit Pies or they shall take their vengeance upon you!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. You know, after two weeks of a dreadful comic, I feel the need to kick back and look at something that people don't often pay attention to: comic book advertisements!
(Suddenly, cut through static to Douchey McNitpick)
Douchey: Hold it right there!
Linkara: (calmly) Ah, Mr. McNitpick. I've been expecting you.
Linkara: Yeah, I did.
Douchey: (opens his mouth to argue, but then stops, surprised) Wait...
Linkara: I am totally ripping off his idea.
Douchey: But... aren't you supposed to be like all defensive?
Linkara: Nope, I freely admit it: people saw the commercial special and wondered if I could do the same thing, but with comic book ads. So I decided to give it a shot. Anything else?
Douchey: (struggles briefly to come up with an argument) You should at least ask for permission to do it!
Linkara: Okay, I'll ask him. (calls out) Hey, Nostalgia Critic! Is it okay if I look at some comic book advertisements?
(Cut to the Nostalgia Critic)
NC: (puzzled) People still read comic books?
Linkara: He said yes. Are we done yet?
Douchey: He didn't say yes! He didn't say yes! That means you're not allowed to do it!
Linkara: (nonchalantly reaching out to pick up something) You don't watch my show very often, do you, Douchey? (pulls out a small remote control and pushes a button on it)
Linkara: Well, I only bring it up because if you did watch my show, (holds up remote control) you'd know I have a spaceship. (smiles smugly)
Douchey: Ha! You don't have a spaceship! You're just an untalented Internet reviewer with the worst voice ever! I– (suddenly, he is interrupted by a rumbling as the room shakes around) OH, SWEET JESUS, AAAAAAA– (the screen cuts off with static)
Linkara: (holding up his remote) Oh, how I do love owning a spaceship. (tosses remote aside) So, let's dig into some comic book advertisements.
(AT4W opening plays; the title card has "Do You Believe In Magic" by the Lovin' Spoonful playing in the background; cut to an ad for a video game called Sub-Terrania)
Linkara (v/o): We're gonna do these in no particular order and no particular context. I'm just grabbing advertisements from any random comic I have, anywhere from the last fifty years worth of stories. Comic book ads tend to be focuses towards the demographics of comic books, usually boys and men, from younger kids to adults, depending on what era the comic came out in. So naturally, here's an advertisement for a Sega Genesis game: Sub-Terrania! (reads text) "Gravity is the law...obey or die!"
Linkara: Logically, if you disobey the law of gravity, then you don't die, you float.
Text: Heads-up! Your experimental attack fighter is the miners' one hope for rescue from the savage alien forces!
Linkara (v/o): Well, considering the larger image shows the experimental fighter flying away from the savage alien forces, I'm gonna guess the miners are screwed. Oh, and check it out: this is actually a two-page ad. The other page talks about a contest for the game. For some reason, part of it is a fake ripped-out want ad.
Text: WANTED - MONSTER HUNTERS. SEGA HAS IMMEDIATE OPENINGS for an individual with nerves of steel, lightning-fast reflexes and a dislike of tourists.
Linkara: (pointing to camera) Are you a bad enough dude to save the President? As well as punch some innocent vacationers?
Linkara (v/o): The contest is that they have to play Sub-Terrania on its hardest setting, defeat the last boss, and take a picture of the victory screen. However, it says the entry form has to be postmarked between April 1st of 1994 and July 15th of 1994.
Linkara: So, technically, if I did do that and found a way to get it postmarked for that date, wouldn't they technically have to honor the contest? Just askin'.
Linkara (v/o): It does make me wonder how many kids entered these contests using Game Genie to speed along until the final screen. The one thing that does bug me is that you have to send in the contest entry form, which is this little rectangle. All well and good, but it means you have to cut out part of the comic! Yeah, they didn't put the entry form on another ad or anything; you have to lose part of the comic story!
Linkara: And why would I ever want to cut out a piece of a priceless, (holds up comic of "Blackwolf #1") irreplaceable thing like... (stops awkwardly as he examines comic cover) "Blackwolf #1"... It also says on the cover that he's the "next generation of hero". (awkward pause) I'll shut up.
(Cut to a shot of an ad for a t-shirt)
Linkara (v/o): Here's one from the '70s: "Amazing $1 Offer – 10 Super Rock Iron-On Transfers".
Linkara: So, is there a difference between "rock" and "super rock"? Does super rock have, like, keytars and bagpipes or something?
Text on ad: Here's a chance to get 10 iron-on transfers of your favorite Rock Stars photographed live In Concert–Enough to customize your entire wardrobe.
Linkara: Yes, we could just print off actual t-shirts featuring those rock stars and sell them for a lot more money, but we're kinda lazy, so we just decided to let you do all the work.
(Cut to an ad for $1 charm pendants)
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of $1 offers, check out this "amazing $1 offer: Charming Charm Pendants".
Linkara: (pointing to camera) Oh, these charm pendants better be charming, or I'm gonna sue someone's ass!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, get these "charming charm pendants", like this charming... uh, razor blade. Also, mushrooms are charming evidently.
(Cut to another ad, this one featuring Stan Lee himself on HSC)
Linkara (v/o): Back to the '90s, let's check an ad that I know a lot of comic fans will love: "Smilin' Stan Lee's Coming To Your TV! Who else could possibly host Marvel's first show on HSC?"
Linkara: What gets me is that they say it's the first show. Did they plan on having more than one Marvel show on the Home Shopping Club?
Linkara (v/o): Yep, that's right, the Home Shopping Club, AKA the Home Shopping Network. Marvel apparently had a show advertising signed comics and merchandise in the mid-'90s. I can't find any real info on it, like how long it lasted or anything, though. Because when you think of comic book readers, you think someone who watches the Home Shopping Network. As you can see by the advertisements, the one they're talking about lasted three hours for two showings in May of that year*.
- NOTE: According to the copyrights, the ad is dated from 1994.
Text: Want the lowdown on the highlights at Marvel? Tune in to Stan "The Man" Lee, Marvel's publisher and creative genius, on the Home Shopping Club.
Linkara: Yes, the creative genius behind such thrilling comics like "Nightcat"!
(Cut to a shot of an ad for Bubble Yum bubble gum)
Linkara (v/o): Let's go back to the early '80s for a bit: "The magic in gum is Bubble Yum."
Linkara: Is that the same kind of magic that's in a young girl's heart, and how the music can free her whenever it starts?
Wizard in ad: There's magic in Bubble Yum's number one taste. The fantastic flavor lasts a long long time with a smooth, soft chew. Get some and see how fast you can make it disappear.
Linkara: Well, theoretically, I could make it disappear just by swallowing it. I'm not advising that, mind you, I'm just saying.
Linkara (v/o): The ad also shows how to do a magic trick with the Bubble Yum that involves dropping the gum into your other hand to trick people into thinking you made it disappear.
Linkara: Yes, amuse people with cheap parlor tricks with your gum instead of just chewing it like you're supposed to.
(Cut to an ad for the Nintendo Double Player Wireless Headset)
Linkara (v/o): Going into the late '80s, we have this ad for a little accessory for your NES.
Text: Playing games on the Nintendo Entertainment System will never be the same with Acclaim's new DOUBLE PLAYER System...
Linkara: Two people playing on an NES at once? What sorcery is this?!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, the system is for playing with wireless controllers. Probably an innovative idea at the time. I can't think of any game systems before that point that offered a wireless option. Mind you, since I grew up with a Sega Genesis, and not an NES, I can't say if this thing actually worked or not, but I give points for trying to do it.
(Cut to a shot of the comments section for one of Linkara's videos, which chide Linkara for having never played Zelda games before)
Linkara (v/o): However, I apparently don't get any points with my fans, because I've never played any Zelda games before.
(Cut back to the Double Player ad)
Linkara (v/o): My favorite part is the picture of the two kids. They just look so intense and pumped for this game! They look like they're about to beat the other person to death with the wireless controller!
(Linkara is seen confronting a second Linkara, both with their fists up and scowling at each other, in imitation of the aforementioned two kids)
Linkara: (to his double) I WILL BURY YOU!!
Linkara (v/o): Though, the ironic thing is that the game they're so pumped for? It appears to be WrestleMania for the NES, which I've heard is not a very good game.
(Cut to an ad for TurboGrafx-16)
Linkara (v/o): While we're on the video game kick, let's take a quick look at an ad for a TurboGrafx-16.
Text: The higher energy video game system.
Linkara: Marvel at your electricity bill as our gaming console consumes higher amounts of energy.
Text: The difference between new TurboGrafx-16 and other video game systems is all in your head.
Linkara (v/o): And that is a blatant lie, judging from this ad. Take a look! It's not in our heads! Our heads are exploding, thanks to this thing! Our heads are shattering into little pieces to fit in a TurboGrafx-16 screen!
Linkara: No, no! The TruboGrafx-16 is taking over my brain! (his head explodes)
(Cut to a Thing comic called "Sunday Punch" by Hostess)
Linkara (v/o): I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the infamous Hostess ads that ran for over a decade in comics. They are bizarre and nonsensical and friggin' hilarious. Take this one, for example: the Thing in "Sunday Punch"!
Narrator: A quiet Sunday. Or is it?
(A dramatic sting is heard)
Linkara (v/o): Actually, the quiet Sunday is interrupted by a giant... well, it appears to be a building shaped in a humanoid fashion, but then it says this...
Giant building: (robotic voice) I am programmed to destroy.
Linkara: So... it's a giant robot that looks like a building?
Linkara (v/o): The Thing tries to punch it.
Thing: Oof! My Sunday punch ain't doin' much!
Linkara: And there's your title, people! That's the only reason that this thing is called "Sunday Punch".
Linkara (v/o): The Thing realizes he can take it down, but there's a problem.
Thing: I gotta get this rubberneckers to safety, first. But, how?
Linkara: How jaded are the people in the Marvel Universe if they're not already running in fear of the giant robot building?
Linkara (v/o): So how does the Thing get the people to scamper away? Why, he throws a bunch of Hostess Fruit Pies out into the crowd!
Person 1: Hey! Hostess Fruit Pies!
Person 2: Real fruit filling!
Person 3: Apple! Cherry! Peach!
Person 4: Light, tender crust! Wow!
Linkara: (looking offscreen, holding a gun, gruff voice) You hand over that peach-flavored pie, or I'ma shoot you in the face! (as another person) You can have my Hostess Fruit Pie, but only after you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!
Linkara (v/o): And thus, the Thing is able to smash the building robot without fear of any debris crushing people... ignoring the fact that he didn't throw the Fruit Pies very far, and thus people are exactly where they were before. Not his smartest move. And hell, the giant building robot wasn't even as insane as these things got.
(Cut to a Batman and Robin comic entitled "Birds of a Feather")
Linkara (v/o): Take a look at this one from 1977: "Batman & Robin: Birds of a Feather".
Robin: Stealing the Statue of Liberty, holy cow!! Pigeon Woman, we'll clip your wings!
Pigeon Person: The name's Pigeon Person! Robin, you imitation bird, you'll never stop me!!
Linkara: Oh, come on, he didn't even call you "Pigeon Girl" or anything. And I know I usually like alliteration, but "Pigeon Person" is just dumb.
Linkara (v/o): Then again, I'm looking for sanity in an advertisement featuring the Statue of Liberty getting airlifted by an army of pigeons. James and the Giant Peach, this is not.
Pigeon Person: (to her pigeon army) Tomorrow we steal America's last statue. And an America without statues is an America without a past.
(Linkara holds up an index finger to speak, but stops himself, unable to speak)
Linkara: (sighs) Cyberleader, you do it.
(Cut to a clip of Cyberleader on Doctor Who)
Cyberleader: There is... logic in what he says.
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Batman and Robin meet up with a bunch of military personnel.
Batman: The Bat Computer has plotted Pigeon Person's next plot. She plans to pluck Mount Rushmore.
Linkara: (dumbfounded) I don't think she's going to have quite enough pigeons.
Linkara (v/o): The military let Batman do his plan, which is to have three fighter jets drop hundreds of Hostess Cupcakes, which all the pigeons immediately flock to obtain.
Pigeon Person: My birds will do anything for that.
Batman: That's right, even betray you!
Robin: Pigeon Person, get ready to have your feathers plucked.
Linkara: (as Batman) You will be publicly executed for defying the will of the great god Hostess!
Pigeon Person: I can't blame my pigeons for betraying me. Even a "bird brain" knows that a Hostess Cup Cake in the beak is worth any two statues in the street.
Linkara: Well, you heard it here first, folks: statues are worthless. (points to camera) Only Hostess Cupcakes are worth living and dying for.
(Cut to a shot of a back page of a comic, full of things you can order, circa 1976)
Linkara (v/o): Let's close this little exploration of advertisements with something I haven't seen in a long time in comics: stuff you could order out of the back pages. This kind of crap stuck around for decades, lasting even longer than the Hostess ads. Eventually, they were replaced more and more for ads from mail and retailers who just sold back issues of comics before disappearing altogether. But for the longest time, you could order all sorts of stuff. For example, for a mere 95 cents, you can order a "Remote-Control 7-Foot Life-Size Ghost".
Text: You control in secret. Ready to operate. Rises, falls, floats, spooky effects, darts, dances...
Linkara: Frighten people with cheap novelty and obviously fake-looking ghosts. Even Casper is more convincing than this thing.
Linkara (v/o): How about a "Giant Mystery Stamp Bag"? You can get twenty dollars worth of stamps from around the world!
Linkara: Wow! And since the stamps are no doubt made for a foreign currency, they're absolutely useless to me, especially since I could just go down to the bank and get some stamps! Score!
Linkara (v/o): My favorite has always been the Air Cars or Hovercrafts available.
Text: ...glides like magic over floors, sidewalks, EVEN WATER! Sleek car of the future uses principle of air suspension to ride on cushion of air above mostly any surface.
Linkara: Warning: Does not work on the following surfaces...
(The following pops up: "Linoleum - Wood - Carpet - Plastic - Water - Lava - Aluminum - Porcelain - Dry Wall - Paper - Acid - Leather - Fur - Steel - Skin - Corn - Grass - Cement - Light - Air")
Linkara (v/o): As a kid, I always wondered if these things actually worked. I was very tempted to buy one and see. This particular ad is from 1976 and was available for four-and-a-half bucks, but the ones I always saw when I was a kid were for twenty bucks. If anyone has ever ordered one of these things, I'd love to know if they ever really worked. This particular set of orderables also has quite a few Star Trek items for sale, including a three-piece set of a communicator, phaser and tricorder model, and all for the low, low price of $2.95.
Linkara: Out of curiosity, I went onto eBay and checked. These things can go for anywhere from eight bucks to fifty, depending on who you get them from. Not bad for toys that are over thirty years old.
Text: Star Trek Book & Record - HEAR & SEE your favorite Star Trek 23rd century action comes alive [sic] as you read!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, the advertisements' grammar is all over the place with this one.
(Because Poor Literacy is... Groovy!)
Linkara: And considering that next week I'm planning on reviewing an old Star Trek comic, I think we'll end it there. This episode has been a bit of an experiment. I don't know if this look at advertisements is anywhere near as entertaining as the Nostalgia Critic's look at commercials, so let me know what you think, and let me know if you want to see me try this again.
(Stinger: Linkara is seated on his Futon again)
Linkara: I mean, come on! Do Hostess Cakes really have that much power over people?
(He chuckles as he looks offscreen. Suddenly, he becomes shocked as a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls appears before him, to a dramatic sting; Linkara's face twitches for a few seconds)
Linkara: THEY'RE MINE!!
(He lunges at the box and pulls them up in front of the camera, giggling crazily. He stops, however, as he looks up at the camera)
Linkara: What? These are Little Debbies.