Comic books were once jam packed with cheap ads that offered everything from Sea Monkeys to Daisy BB rifles, from real Jivaro shrunken heads to chihuahuas in a teacup. But nothing could surpass the elusive promise offered by advertisements that promised to improve our very lives themselves! Could a superior existence be waiting inside the pages of Patsy Walker or the confusingly titled First Issue Special Number Two? No, not really. But what do these ads tell us about how the publishers viewed their comic-book reading audience? What needs and desires lurked within the heart of the mythical typical reader?
Well, for one thing, somebody was thinking our typical comic book enthusiast had weight problems.
Except when he was too thin.
Well, no, I take that back, you are actually way too fat.
With the exception of those parts of you that are disgustingly thin.
Oh, let's face it, you big tub o' goo, you're a blimp!
No no, that's a weight-loss device and is not to be used for any other purpose that might benefit from, shall we say, 'vibration'. No ma'am.
While we're at it, our market research has also determined a few other pertinent facts about you, dear reader.
For one thing, you're going bald!!
And you're probably some kind of loitering slacker badly in need of meaningful employment. Who will help by smashing through walls? Comic books!
Also, I know this is embarrassing, but... you're a bed wetter, and not in the "right-wing talk show insult" sense, either.
Hey, if I was fat, jobless, and balding, I'd wet the bed too.
But you can solve all these problems with the simple application of whatever devices and methods are advertised in the back of "Heart Throbs" or "Homer The Happy Ghost!" Trouble getting that big promotion at work? Comics can help!
Not only has "Vic" used his new muscles to gain control of the "Crusher Gang", his new physique - thanks to something called "Black Beauty" - has enabled him to become a television wrestling star and develop Real Ultimate Power, while possibly flipping out.
Meanwhile "Dotty" gets some patronizing advice from the personnel department - seriously, human resources is giving her boy advice? - and uses the Joe Bonomo system to regain her girlish pep and LAND THAT MAN, who incidentally owns an auto the size of a DC-10.
But how to pay for all these marvelous comic book self improvement schemes? I bet there's a comic book ad that can help us with that too!
ALL AMERICA IS GOING CRAZY FOR THE GREAT NEW FAD OF "SHOES". SELL SHOES TODAY. Tell them you're from "The Masons (mumble shoe company mumble)" and if you know the secret handshake, that's a guaranteed sale.
But let's face facts; if you've got enough money to waste on this junk you're probably too old to be reading comic books in the first place, which means there's only one category of advertising that fits - advertising that says flat out, YOU HAVE NO LIFE.
ARE YOU INTO COMIC FANDOM? WELL, ARE YOU? BECAUSE IF YOU AREN'T, I HAVE NO TIME FOR YOU AND YOUR SO-CALLED "CAREERS" AND "FRIENDS"! And ironically enough, as the bed-wetting pills and Electroman and vibrating reducing machines fade into obscurity, comic book fandom marches on. Probably with that same haircut.
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