Sunday, August 9, 2015

Whitman three pack comic book ads

As I've mentioned before, I didn't read super-hero comics as a kid. Besides being seen as an extravagant purchase, they were too violent for my mother's taste. When I was allowed to pick up comics, it was usually in the context of a long car trip. Howard Johnson's gift shops were always good for an Archie digest of some sort. Usually, though, it was a Stuckey's cheap breakfast stop and their spinner rack of Whitman three-packs.

Check out for a great gallery of Whitman three-packs

Every now and then there'd be a movie or toy tie-in title (as The Black Hole, above) that I'd be allowed to read, but mostly I was relegated to the safe cartoon titles such as The Pink Panther or Uncle Scrooge. They were still decent books to read, but unlike the bagged Marvel reprints, the ads in the Gold Key/Whitman titles would have the same advertising pages in them for years on end. Which is kind of disappointing to a child, since one had already read those five pages in another issue of a different book.

As an adult who uses these ads for collage purposes, I recognize that they were obviously all printed up in large runs ahead of time and sent out to gift shops and toys stores to sit until they sold. But I also noticed that the ads all go to the same P.O. Box, with various "companies" listed in the address for each mail-in coupon. Someone in New York had a lot of cheap items to get rid of.

(All scans are taken from Buck Rogers #12, dated 1981 and have been adjusted in the computer for clarity)

The first ad is for some sort of balloon toy called "Flipit." They all portray characters that were syndicated on local channels at the time (Frankenstein movies being played constantly on weekend horror host shows). Well, except for Super Chick, which I'm not sure was ever really a thing. They appear to offer all the fun of throwing your favorite cartoon character across the room, only to have him mock you by always landing upright. 

In the 70s there was a bit of a nostalgia craze for old radio shows, among other things. They were probably neat to listen to, but I imagine they had more nostalgia value for Granpa than for any child who grew up in the television era. I get the impression that this ad is trying to trick kids into thinking that radio shows are "cool."


This one is perhaps my favorite badly drawn comic-book ad ever. I spent many a time in the back seat of a hot car wondering what these things actually looked like. Note the hastily drawn Flintstones knock-off figures on the "Bubb-aLoons." And why are the creepy parachute guys called "poopa troopers?" Is that what they do in their pants on the way down?

This one is so "on model" that someone must have had artwork supplied by the manufacturer. Again, Looney Tunes and Woody Woodpecker were on afternoon syndicated shows at the time. Note that the actual size of the scissors doesn't leave much finger space. They look downright painful to use.

This is just odd. Obviously, it's a ploy to get you to check out the "Indian Heritage" catalog of dubiously acquired artifacts, but someone also left a check box for the "Solar Power Booklet" advertised as a Super Pocket Toy Value above. Some undiscovered genius out there could have solved the energy crisis by gambling a $1.50 on a science project booklet and saved the world from Big Oil, if only the listing wasn't buried in a coupon for Real Indian Arrowheads.