Retro Comic Book Ads From 1984

Old comic books often act as a time capsule.  They’re full of advertisements of products from long ago, and can tell us a lot about the culture of the time in which they were printed.  Some of those products are still with us, while others are not.  I often like to crack open the pages of a long forgotten comic book and just browse the advertisements found inside with which to take a trip back in time to another era.  Let’s open one of those time capsules here today and see what we find….


Iceman #1


The “time capsule” for this trip back in time is a copy of Iceman #1, from Marvel Comics in 1984.  It was the first issue of his first mini-series, and I imagine this mini-series was created to capitalize on the character’s popularity from the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon.


Mario Brothers


The first ad we come across is a real eye-opener.  It’s for the Mario Brothers home video game for the Atari 2600 system.  It’s hard to think of a Mario game being on any system besides one from Nintendo, but this is from before Nintendo was launched in the USA and Mario took over the video gaming world.  This version of the game for Atari was an arcade port to the home system.

Unless they switched bibs, it’s Luigi who is really featured in this ad instead of Mario, which seems really weird to me.


Pryor's Place


Now we’ve got an ad for the new Saturday morning cartoon lineup on CBS.  I used to love these things when I would come across them as a kid.  I would get so pumped up and excited for the new cartoons, and just the fact that reruns were coming to an end and we were about to start getting new episodes again.

The CBS lineup for the fall of ’84 had some gems in it.  Muppet Babies, Dungeons and Dragons, and Get Along Gang were all favorites of mine.  I also see blurbs for Q*Bert, Pole Position, and, so the lineup was video game heavy.  The main attraction for the ad though is Richard Pryor, whose new show Pryor’s Place was solidly featured in the lineup.  I never watched Pryor’s Place, so I have no idea if I missed anything or not.


Mavel's Secret Wars


Marvel’s Secret Wars action figures hit the market first in 1984, and then a second series followed in 1985.  The action figure line was well received by kids and fans of the comics, and one of the reasons why were the lenticular images on the shields that came with the toys.  You can see this feature being demonstrated on the page above.

I was a little young for the comic story itself, but I remember having some of the figures, specifically Iron Man, Magneto, and Dr. Doom.  I may or may not have owned Wolverine.  I want to say yes, but this could be a case of me wanting it so badly, and playing with it at a friend’s house making me remember something that isn’t true.



We’ve got another Saturday morning cartoon lineup, this time featuring the shows of NBC.  Looking at this lineup, I can tell you right now that my young self was glued to NBC on Saturday mornings at this time.

I loved The Snorks, The Smurfs is easily in my top 5 favorite cartoons of all time, Alvin and the Chipmunks were a solid performer throughout it’s run,  Mister T is an underrated classic, and Spider-Man is another on my shortlist of favorites.  The shows on CBS that we saw earlier had stiff competition from this lineup.



Now we come to what I like to refer to as the “generic ads” section of the comic book.  Here is where you would find all the cool sounding stuff, but more times than not, you’d be disappointed with what you got if you ordered any of this stuff.  Matter of fact, my friend Kurt Demarais published a book about all of these toys and gadgets you’d find advertised in the comic pages.

The Karate Self Defense ad looks like something I would have been drawn too in my wimpy years, and I’m sure the ad for “Semi-Precious Gems” would have set my business mind in motion as I tried to think of ways to buy and then resell them.  And last but not least, the ad for the switchblade items brings back some memories.  Anyone who was anyone at my school had the switchblade comb.  You just weren’t cool if you didn’t.



As was typical with comics back in the day, you would almost always find an ad page inside with the publishers hawking their monthly subscriptions.  I wasn’t into comic books back when this issue was on the stands, but if I had been…and had the money, I would have subscribed to several of the titles listed.

Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Captain America, G.I. Joe, Iron Man, and Star Wars are some of the titles I see listed that I like to go back and read the issues of from the ’80s.  Having the subscription back then would have made life a lot easier.  Was this really all the titles they were putting out then or did some not make this list?


Endless Quest


Now I don’t recall ever reading any of these Endless Quest books, but I was a huge fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books, and the Lone Wolf series, both of which gave you the power of choice in your reading.  It seems like a book in this style would do really well as a blog, where readers could click on which action they wanted to take.


Frogger II


And last we have an ad for Frogger II Threedeep video game.  I played the original Frogger, but never any sequel.  It looks like this was available for Atari 2600 as well as the iconic Commodore 64 and ColecoVision systems.  Looks like it was the same basic concept, only this time you had levels underwater and in the air along with the surface which was featured in the first game.

Well, that’s another comic book time capsule opened and browsed through.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and I hope you saw something that stirred some old memories.  If it did, drop us a line in the comments and tell us what your memories are of any of this stuff.

(No comic book was harmed in the making of this article.  Actually, that’s not true.  One copy of Iceman #1 was dissected and suffered irreparable harm.)