DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL
Part Three: But First, a Word from Our Sponsor…
There have been ads in comic books as long as there have been comic books. Some of the ads have become part of our pop culture – more memorable than most of the comic book characters themselves. Sea Monkeys, anyone?
During my prime-time comic reading, I quaked in fear at the Deadliest Man Alive – Count Dante’!
I wanted X-Ray Specs and to learn to throw my voice and go on the Tilt-A-Whirl at Palisades Park (free admission with my Superman coupon) and to win valuable prizes selling Christmas cards and what the hell is Grit?
The 33 DC comics with the Bicentennial heading contained either 32 pages or 48 pages – not counting the covers (which would add four more pages). Counting those four, all the comics contained 17 pages of the same ads. They might not appear in the same places – an ad from page 12 of one comic would be on page 23 of another – and some reprint titles would have house ads at the bottom third of the page ending a chapter or a story. I will tell you about those variations when I talk about the specific issues. But otherwise the ads were all the same. The centerfold (the middle four pages) of the 32-page comics were all ads, which was traditional for DC at the time.
I’ll use the first Bicentennial Comic – Our Army At War #294 as the template.
Inside front cover: Hostess Cupcake ad: “Superman Saves the Earth” – there are websites dedicated to these classic Hostess ads. DC, Marvel, Harvey and Archie comics had dozens of them featuring every popular character you can think of – the Joker starred in three, Josie of “…and the Pussycats” fame? 19! This one is typical – aliens meet to discuss the fate of the earth. Because it is so primitive and backward, humanity must be destroyed! Superman takes the aliens to a grocery store and introduces them to Hostess Cupcakes. The aliens love the cupcakes and spare the earth (the aliens are obviously of great intellect – in this writer’s opinion the original Hostess Cupcakes are tangible proof of the existence of God…). A species that can create such spongy cake and creamy filling deserves a chance! Whew … good thing the aliens decided this in 1976 and not after Hostess went bankrupt … we’d be doomed!
A few DC Comics exchange this Superman ad with one starring the Joker called “The Cornered Clown”. He is trapped in a building cordoned off by the police. He tosses them Hostess Fruit Pies to distract them as he escapes out the back. Despite such tasty treats, the police are not fooled and are waiting to arrest him. Now if he had only thrown glazed doughnuts he might have succeeded. I will let you know which comics feature the Superman ad and which feature the Joker ad.
Page 5: a full-page ad for Charms Blow Pops.
Page 6: two half-page ads for selling social security plates (checkbook-sized holders with your number and an American eagle emblazed above it) – this was before identity theft was prevalent, obviously; and an ad for Slim Jims.
Page 11: a full-page ad for Grit. Grit is still around, you know. It’s not a newspaper anymore; it’s a glossy magazine, but still around. Did anyone out there sell Grit for big money and prizes?
Page 12: a full-page DC house ad for its latest tabloid-sized Limited Collector’s Edition comics C46 (Justice League of America) and C47 (Superman Salutes the Bicentennial) – see Part Two – the Leftovers for more about these comics.
Page 15: two half-page ads selling Isokinetics (an exercise technique – are they implying that readers of comic books are out of shape? Well, we ARE, but I resent the implication…) and another ad for the social security decorative plates/holders from page 6.
Page 16: a full-page ad for NCG Merchandise’s comic book binders.
Page 17: a full-page ad for Action Lure to catch more and bigger fish (comic book fans fish? Really?)
Page 18: a full page of house ads – a half-page ad for the Amazing World of DC Comics #11 (the Super-Villains issue – I have this one!) and a half-page DC Comics subscription form
Page 21: a full-page ad from the US School of Music – a self-taught guitar program
Page 22: a half-page ad for New American Physique and a half page of 10 S. Schwarz & Company ads of various sizes: learn vehicle decor customizing, hobby coin company sales, Universal Inc. muscle growing technique, custom bicentennial t-shirts for sale, Jack Hunt (comic book back issues), the famous X-Ray Specs, Estell (comic book back issues), Abracadabra Magic Tricks, Debt Relief solutions, and Discount Comics (comic book back issues).
Page 23: a full page public service ad for Justice For All Includes Children. This is #5 of the series. Superman instructs children on their rights and duties as citizens. Here he advises the kids not to crash a party. Trespassing is illegal and could be dangerous!
Page 27: a full-page ad for “DC Salutes the Bicentennial” reproduced in Part One of this series.
Page 28: 14 ads from S. Schwarz & Company of varying sizes: “Space 1999” models for sale, learn karate, Robert Bill (comic book back issues), Richard Alt (comic book back issues), Pacific Comics (comic book back issues), weight lifting techniques, stamps for sale, Howard Rogofsky (comic book back issues), muscle building techniques, baseball card holders (called “lockers” – now we would call them deck holders), CCCBA (comic book back issues), techniques to grow taller, live seahorses for sale, and then several small ads designed as “classified newspaper” ads for: earning money stuffing envelopes, selling t-shirt iron-on decals, secret agent pens for sale, gliders for sale, earn money addressing and mailing envelopes.
Page 32: a full-page ad for muscle building (from the same company as one of the smaller ads on page 28).
Inside front cover: a full-page ad for Monogram flying airplanes.
Back cover: Spalding gloves (with as-always-excellent Jack Davis art!)
Eyes spinning yet? I haven’t even begun to review the 33 comics yet! I’ll start with #1: Our Army At War #294…
All comic covers, advertising, characters and images are the property of their respective copyright holders and reprinted here for your entertainment and review under the Fair Use Doctrine as commentary, criticism and … sometimes … parody.
Keep in mind the actual creators probably only received a fraction of their creative worth at the time of their creation … but that is a whole other story …
Original Material Copyright 2015 Michael G Curry