Flipping through pages of retro comic book ads is kinda like opening a time capsule. They are usually full of pop culture icons, products that are fondly remembered, and some that jar no memory what so ever in our brains. Being a big fan of retro advertising in all forms, I am especially fond of slowly browsing the pages of comic books looking for those ads that make light bulbs goes off overhead. In this edition, I found a couple of those.
All of the ads in this article are from the comic book, X-Men 2099 #2, cover dated November 1993, from Marvel Comics. I picked this issue up from a quarter bin at a comic book convention recently, with the sole intention of using the ads within it for an article.
The first ad I came across, was inside the front cover and is for Quaker Instant Oatmeal Kid’s Choice. It looks like it’s a variety pack that features four different flavors, that would hopefully please even the pickiest of us kids / pre-teens / teens or whatever you were in 1993.
I’ve written of my love for a bygone instant oatmeal in the past, and while I have always been a big fan of Quaker Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, I don’t really remember this Kid’s Choice pack. It appears to be mostly just a variety pack that had been re-branded to appeal to a younger generation instead of the adults. A quick watch of a commercial for this oatmeal has enlightened me to the fact that at some point there was a “CinnaMagic’ flavor included that would change color instantly when water was added. I’m guessing that flavor came after the Cinnamon Graham Cookie that is featured on the box in this ad.
Above and beyond the cereal, check out the clothing on the models in this picture. You have the preppy kid up top in his khakis and sneakers, the cool street kid rocking the backwards hat, sweat shirt and sweat pants, and the best touch of all….the striped athletic socks with the sweat pants tucked into them! On the side it appears we have another Zack Morris wannabe, and with a ‘Daddy’s little angel’ on the floor next to him. And the best is on the other side of the box. Corporate America’s vision of what a 13 year old hippy chick would dress like.
The next ad we come across is for the Bram Stoker’s Dracula video game, available for both Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Dracula was a hit movie that came out in 1992, grossing $215 million, so I guess adapting it into a video game kinda made sense.
The game was a side-scroller where you took the role of Jonathon Harker. It featured six levels, and various bosses to defeat, including Dracula himself in various forms. I never played it myself, but it seems like it would be a lot like the CastleVania series.
Man oh man! This is a classic example of retro comic book ads from the early 1990’s. It’s an ad for football trading cards. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, when I wasn’t reading and trading comic books, I was trading cards. Baseball, Football, Basketball, and non sports cards all filled my collection. Even though most of my collection was always just temporary due to trading, there were always a few that I set the trading price way too high so I could keep them in my collection. If I remember correctly, Pinnacle cards were always a little more pricey that Topps, Fleer, and the others.
Looking at the names on the cards featured in this ad really takes me back to the early days of my serious football fandom. I remember being scared of Sterling Sharpe every time the Packers played my beloved San Francisco 49ers. Barry Foster was a beast running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had some big games in the playoffs in this era. And then we have the iron man of the bunch, Morten Anderson. While I’m not sure how old he would have been in 1993, I know he didn’t retire until 2008.
Another ad for sports cards, this time for Score Hockey. It’s actually a well thought out ad that features #1 draft pick, Alexandre Daigle in various outfits. All of which are definitely NOT his Hockey uniform, and the hook is the only way to see him in his uniform is to buy the cards and hope to get his rookie card.
Alexandre Daigle had a lot of potential, but unfortunately never lived up to all the hype. He eventually ran out of luck and was out of the league after the 1999 season. A quick check on the value of his Score Rookie card reveals that it is considered just a ‘common’, and has a value of $0.05.
The next ad in this comic is another video game, but what a game it was. Mortal Kombat hit the arcades and almost single-handedly created a shortage of quarters in North America. It wasn’t long until the game made the leap to home consoles, and I remember all the hype surrounding the release day, as they dubbed it ‘Mortal Monday”.
This ad lists the game as being available on Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Nintendo Game Boy. Apparently, you could get it at Kmart. That definitely had to be back in the days when Kmart was still a major player in the retail market.
Now that we’re getting towards the back of the book, we hit the ad for other comic books. You would see these in almost every comic book you bought, and most of them were for comic book stores that had ‘rare’ comic books for resale. This one however is an ad from Entertainment This Month, which was a rather large company that I myself ordered several books from.
Breaking down this ad for deeper retro goodness, the first thing that catches my eye is the ad in the top left corner for the ‘new’ Marvels series. That 4-issue series may be my favorite comic story off all-time. I also see a listing for the Batman Animated Series Trade Paperback. I used to have that as well as it was the comic adaption of the awesome Batman: The Animated Series. I see the Ultraverse logo featured prominently as well, and I was a huge fan of most of the books from that universe.
We’re back with another ad for sports cards, and this time it’s for Fleer Basketball cards. This set of cards in particular was a large part of my collection in that era, as it was one of the few sets of cards that I could count on being able to pick up at my local store.
I guess they had an endorsement deal with Clyde “The Glide” Drexler since his mug takes up a large amount of space in the ad.
So apparently there are 240 basic cards in this set, and three action packed subsets: NBA League Leaders, NBA Award Winners, and Pro Visions art cards. Subsets were the life blood of any card set. Without appealing subsets, you would be hard pressed to get kids to buy. And as a collector and trader, if you didn’t have subset cards in your collection, you didn’t have much trade bait.
Ahh, you can always count on the Cap’n to bring the goods! For many years, kids, pre-teens, teens, and adults that are still kids at heart have enjoyed the delicious flavors of Cap’n Crunch. In this ad, which appeared on the back of the comic, Crunch Berries are the featured flavor, and brings this article to a fitting end.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, going through retro comic book ads and seeing the products they are pitching is like opening a time capsule. As I went through this one, I was transported back in time…a time in which I had a blast trading comic books and cards with friends and school mates. A time when I loved to get up on a lazy Saturday to a bowl full of cereal and a day of video games. It’s those kinds of memories that keep us living with one foot in the past while we are stuck in the present world of adult life. The silver lining though is that we have plenty of sources for these retro comic book ads so we can continue to go back in time, over and over again.
For more, check out Retro Comic Book Ads #2