Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Paneled Goods: Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos VS the Half Ad

Don't you hate being advertised to? You go see a movie and there's a commercial for Coke. You watch a video on YouTube and get 5 to 30 seconds of car spiel. Applications sans ads cost extra. DVR's and Tivo were invented so you could watch your favorite programs whenever you wanted AND skip over commercials selling you soap. Comic books have long subsided on lots of random advertising. Most ads consisted of  How to Get Girls and Muscles or sending away for X-Ray Glasses. I always love reading old comic books versus graphic novels because you get some great advertisements sometimes, my favorite being Hostess brands shelling their delectable cupcakes and fruit pies. Reading through a stack of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos I'm getting a lot of ads targeting young men who need to finish high school, get taller, get girls, learn karate or lift weights.

Comic books are a tough racket. We're experiencing a growth of young readers but for decades it was the 30 and over crowd who started reading as kids still supporting the market. In the 90's, comics were good for flipping through but not exactly high quality, costing $1.00 with an extra .06 in tax. Nowadays, 22 pages of panels, art and balloons runs $4 bucks but comes with cardstock covers and glossy pages. Advertising is always changing so why should comic book marketing be any different? Some publishers pushed ads to the last pages while I remember being shocked by an issue of Batman in the mid-2000's where every other page was an ad. Detective Comics ticked off some readers again when an excerpt showed a page of half content and half Nick Lachey Twix bar ad. While I couldn't recall seeing something like that in the past, I wasn't all that surprised by the development.

Cut to me reading Sgt. Fury # 86 from April of 1971 when I saw it, two pages of half content and half ads! In this case, Centre Coin out of Sherman Oaks, California would pay you $10,000 bucks for a certain Lincoln Penny or I could gain Strong Man Sex Appeal in only 10 minutes with no weights or bars using Mike Marvel's Dynaflex Method instead! Huh, sounds kinda familiar doesn't it? You still see $$ for Gold and BeachBody's P90X and Insanity guarantee results in just 30 minutes a day. As far as the ads go, I can't recall ever seeing the half page format like this during my formative years and it was the first to show up in vintage Fury.

Doing a quick search, Centre Coin didn't come up but there was a surprising amount of information on Mike Marvel's Dynaflex Methods available. Basically, like Charles Atlas, Marvel taught a variation of isometrics. Not even advocating bodyweight exercises that can be done with little or no equipment like push ups, body squats or chins mind you. No we're talking stretching, flexing your muscles, crumpling newspaper for your forearms and breathing exercises. There's even sections on how to drive a nail into a board and lift a car! The course is pretty thorough and includes a basic diet plan that still holds up today; eat frequently and in moderation, take in vitamin rich foods and stay away from deep fried or excessively sweet offerings. REMEMBER: MILK AND MEAT MEAN MASSIVE MUSCLES!

Thanks, Mike Marvel. Until the next Hostess Fruit Pie ad, MAKE MINE MARVEL!

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