Monday, March 31, 2014

Worth a Second Look - X-Ray Specs and All Those Cool Prizes in Comic Book Ads

So they were a rip off.   

They were then, they are now and they always will be.   

But boy, were they fun to sit and stare at and dream about.  Those old comic book prize ads, you know the ones where you had to sell cards and gifts to earn cash or prizes?  Well, I remember sitting outside Mrs. Appel's studio door, waiting to be called in for my piano lesson.  I'd spend the entire time looking at the comic book ads and dreaming about owning my own TV.    Yeah, I know -  be sure to drink you Ovaltine; buyer beware; too good to be true - isn’t that always what your mother told you?  But the idea of selling cards and gifts sounded so easy and I so wanted to earn those cool prizes they were pushing on me.  Things like:
Telescopes, race tracks, backpacks, TV's and trampolines..etc. and Captain O at The Olympic Sales club was ready to take your call.  It sounded all so easy.  Or you could earn prizes or $1.00 for an item sold.  That bright yellow and blue ad found in most comic books had me planning what I'd pick if I sold 100 items.

Or remember these from other ads?

X-ray specs, Sea monkeys, Fake poop, Fake vomit, Stink bombs, See-behind glasses,Secret Spy scope, Onion gum, Itching powder, Trick black soap, Joy buzzer, Whoopee cushion, Atomic smoke bomb, Money maker, Throw your voice, Boomerang, Phoney Cast.

But you know, times really haven’t changed that much.  It's just that now the kids are selling magazines, Christmas wrapping paper and trinkets as a fundraiser for their school or club and if they sell a certain number of items they get a particular prize - the more desirable prizes being rewarded for the most sales in items - same as back then. 

I guess the only difference now is that the kids nowadays are missing out on those cool ads that kept you dreaming for hours about those crazy, dollar store, cheese items that had you believing if you chose the X-ray glasses, you could see your friends’ underwear!  Wouldn't that have been fun!

Check out Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads! by Kirk Demarais