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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Advertisements On The Back Of A Comic Book

It's really no secret to most of you who have followed this blog since May that I have a soft spot for comic books.

Specifically Archie comic books.

Sure, I've done a couple of blog entries on a couple of the characters in the comics.  I posted a blog entry about Jughead in May, and did a blog entry on Kevin Keller in July.  I also have peppered other blog entries with covers and images from the serial whether they be related to the blog subject or not.

It's just something that defines who I am, and it's one interest that I've always seemed to have.

And I'm the type of person who tends to read the books from cover to cover, picking out favourite stories, and favourite characters.

But sometimes what I find even more fun to view than the Gag Bags and puzzle pages are some of the retro ads that frequently appear on the back cover of the comic books and digests.

I mean, sure, most of the ads on the earliest of digest comic books promoted Archie related merchandise, such as this ad for the Archie...Archie Andrews...Where Are You Digest Magazine from 1977.  Unfortunately, this coupon expired in February 1978, so you cannot get this book even if you did clip it out.  But many kids did just that, and bought more books by mutilating their read digest magazines.  Note that technology was limited back in 1977, and the order forms were actually handwritten instead of being printed on a computer.  Of course, nowadays, order forms are works of art in themselves, but it was nice to know that the simplistic method still worked.

As time progressed, the Archie ads were quickly replaced by the Archie characters actually trying to sell us stuff, or even ads for the stuff themselves.  And these ads basically ranged from cute to intensely creepy.

Like, how about this advertisement for Hostess Fruit Pies from 1976, starring Josie and The Pussycats?  (Sorry for the small size...I tried to figure out how to blow it up, but no luck.)

First off, how bizarre is it to have the Hostess Fruit Pies receive equal star billing as Josie in this storytisement?  (And, yes, I did portmanteau story and advertisement.  It's my blog.  I'll do what I want.)

Still though, Josie sharing the billing with the fruit pies almost made it sound as if the band were changing its name to Josie and the Fruit Pies.  Doesn't quite have that same ring to it, does it?

Secondly, I wasn't around in 1976, so I can't say that I've ever experienced the joy of sinking my teeth into those delicious pre-packaged, filled with chemicals and preservatives Hostess Fruit Pies.  I have heard from others that were around during the mid 1970's that the fruit pies weren't anything to write home about.  So, it seems a little bizarre that Alan M would instantly swoon over Josie as long as she had a processed cherry pie that probably had less nutritional value and more fiber than a copy of the New York Times.

Surprisingly enough, that's not the most disturbing example of ads like this.  There's one that involves the Archie gang that is even creepier than wooing the losing team with the promise of Hostess Fruit Pies.

I'll get to that a little later.

Truth be told, after 1984, quite a few comic book ads were paid for by sponsors of whatever company paid the ad space inside the books, as well as on the back cover.

Many of these ads didn't even use the characters inside the books.

I'm sure most of you have seen one of those Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles commercials, with Barney trying to swindle Fred out of whatever flavour of Pebbles cereal he happened to be eating.  In case you haven't, here's a sample one.

Well, you could also see some of these ads in print form.

It wasn't all that uncommon for cereal companies to secure the prime advertising space on the back cover of comic books, or even within the pages of the books themselves.  Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles were a huge sponsor of getting print ads inside comic books and magazines, and chances were that if you picked up an Archie comic printed between 1988 and 1991, you would see at least one appearance by Fred and Barney on the back of the comic.  Other cereal companies that you saw ads for in comic books were Frosted Flakes, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Sugar Golden Crisp, Rice Krispies, and even cartoon themed cereals like the Ninja Turtles and Nintendo cereals.

It's quite fun to see ads for candies and chocolates that are now either defunct, or not available in Canada anymore.  Does anyone remember Bonkers fruit chews?  The candies that were two-toned in colour and had stronger flavours in the center of the candy?  The ones where the lady kept getting crushed by oversized pieces of fruit?

Refreshed your memory yet?  Well, in 1985, when Bonkers brought out the watermelon flavour, not only did they advertise on television...

...they advertised on the back of comic books as well.  For the record, I remember Bonkers fruit chews, and honestly, I didn't really find the watermelon ones to be all that good.  I did love the orange and grape flavoured ones though.  Come to think of it, I think it's been about two decades since I had a Bonkers candy.  Does anyone know if they're still being made?  If so, let me know where...I kind of want some now.

Sometimes, the comic book advertisements had a specific gender target in mind.  Back in 1986, there was a deal going on for girls aged 8-14, where they could order 44 fabulous bracelets for four dollars.  Don't believe me?  Here's the proof.

I can see several things wrong with this ad.  First off, I think I spot a heck of a lot more than 44 bracelets.  Heck, the two girls in the photo look like they're each wearing at least twice that amount.  And secondly, I don't know about you, but four dollars was quite expensive back in '86.  Why, you could afford to buy an Archie Digest and a Betty and Veronica Digest, and still have enough left over for a Pep comic book for that amount back then!

The sad thing is, that kids in 2011 would gladly pay that amount for a whole bag of funky bracelets.  They're called Silly Bandz.

Oh, and this blast from the past should remind you of a simpler time when M&M's only used to have limited colour selection.

Ah, 1987 was such a simplistic time.  Remember how we only had plain and peanut M&M's to choose from?  Remember when the milk chocolate M&M's were once called Plain?  Remember when the only colours we had to choose from were orange, yellow, green, brown, and tan?  And for that matter, remember when we had tan M&M's?  I think they were permanently removed when they added red and blue.

Some ads just didn't sell products.  Archie comics especially used a lot of public service announcements starring the Archie characters.  I will say that while some of them were cringe-worthy, a few of them were quite informative.

They talked about buckling up for safety purposes...

They talked about how you didn't need drugs to have fun...

Some of them even talked about ways that we could protect our environment.

(Just for the record, there were ten tips published in total between 1991 and 1992.)

That's all that I really have to say about the ads in the back of comic books.  Some of them may have made you laugh, and some of them made you cry, and some of them were just weird.  Still, I think that a comic book would be kind of boring if they didn't exist.  Yeah, they are promoting a service or a cause in the long run, but at least it offers a nice little distraction in between stories...especially if the ad stands out in a hilarious and weird way.

And for the cream of the hilarious and weird, let's take a trip back to 1975 where once again, the ad is sponsored by Hostess snack products.  This one features the Archies, and there are just so many things that we have to discuss about this ad.  First, we might as well see it.  Technically, this one did not appear on the back of a comic book, but it's just too good NOT to post.

Okay, so let's start off with the unfortunate name of this storytisement.  'Good Deal'.  We'll see.

Basically we see the Archies at a recording studio with the full expectations that they will be paid MONEY for their hard work.  After all, a band's gotta eat and sleep and replace their guitar strings, right?

One problem.  There is no money.

Apparently, our boss took all of his money and spent it on...thousands of boxes of Hostess cupcakes.

Okay.  Seriously, what kind of moron would spend all of his money in processed snacks?  I mean, granted, I did enjoy the occasional Hostess age nine.  But the fact that the owner of the recording studio spent all his money on a whole carload of these treats...I mean, really?  What does that say about the legitimacy of the recording studio?  Would you want to record at a studio where the owner makes such impulsive decisions?

So, when the news is broken to the band, they are immediately angry (as they should be...I mean, the dude spent their wages on processed cupcakes), and they consider calling the police.

But, wait.  With one of the creepiest smiles I could ever see, and hope in his eyes, one of the representatives offers to pay the band in...Hostess cupcakes?!?

Um, yeah.  I can just imagine how well it would go if I was called into the office at my workplace and informed that instead of being paid in cash, I would be working for cupcakes, Twinkies, and fruit pies from the 1970s.  I probably wouldn't be working there much longer.

I mean, you can't buy clothing with cupcakes.  You can't pay your rent with cupcakes.  You can't deposit or withdraw cupcakes from your sweet tooth savings account.  The idea of paying ANYONE in baked goods is the most ridiculous thing that one can even think of doing.

Yet for the Archies, it was perfectly fine, and Betty makes the most dough-headed comment ever when she states that getting paid in cupcakes proves that money isn't everything.

Maybe not, but at least with money, you can buy a shelter, clothing, and basic necessities.  Good luck building a house out of cupcakes, guys.  They'll dissolve the first rainstorm you get.

Or, maybe with all the preservatives in them...maybe they won't.

1 comment:

  1. Haha had fun reading your article. Thank you actually, helped me with a project and also enlightened and introduced comic-book back-cover advertising to me.
    Nice :)