Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

A bit of the past I still don’t get

In my Silver Age Reread, I’ve made use of my old comics, reprint comic books, TPB collections and most recently the DC and Marvel apps. Much as I prefer reading comics in print, the apps are more cost effective than shelling out for, say, Sgt. Fury or Hulk TPBs (plus some material isn’t TPB-available at all).

Part of the fun of rereading my own old comics, when that’s possible, is looking through the pages outside the main story. The BEM public interest strip. Seeing a sudden spurt of Lucky Charms ads in 1964 and realizing that yes, the cereal debuted that year. The Henry Boltinoff gag strips such as Moolah the Mystic, Super-Turtle and Casey the Cop. The letter columns, though I skip them if I’m pressed for time.

Then there are the toy ads, which didn’t grab me as a kid and don’t appeal to me any better now. Which is good, because I’m sure getting classic 1960s toys would probably take money I don’t have—but that’s not the point, is it?

Lionel Trains, for example. I’ve never understood the appeal of building a track and watching a toy train go round it. Nor Hot Wheels, though those are still a few years in the “future” (I’m only up to mid-1965; they started in 1968). I’ve only had a couple of toy cars and they were special ones, such as the Matchbox version of James Bond’s Goldfinger Aston Martin or the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

Model kits, the same. DC 1960s comics are full of ads for things like Aurora’s monster model kits or the assorted car model kits of the day such as this one with the Kat from AMT (like him I’m jumping the gun as he didn’t appear in ads until late in 1965).Seriously, what was the point of building a tiny copy of a car? The monster model kits were way more interesting, just like King Kong and Frankenstein were more interesting than my family’s car—or, well, any family’s car. As a bonus, the kits came with backstories on the film characters—I’m fairly sure the King Kong kit is where I first learned Kong’s story.I had the Phantom of the Opera and King Kong kits and I think I may have put the Phantom kit together. But I never painted it. I didn’t see the point. I never felt the urge to buy more (the two I had were both gifts). I’m glad the kits were there for kids who were into them but I’d much sooner have spent the time reading or watching Doctor Who or the Richard Greene Robin Hood series than applying glue to bits of plastic.

Which, come to think of it, pretty sums up my priorities today.



  1. Le Messor

    Hah! Funny you should mention The Phantom Of The Opera; I’m reading the original book at the moment. (Not, y’know, right now.)

    I kind of see the point of toy cars, kind of, but mine are all special for some reason – a DeLorean; a model Batmobile that was a gift, a Lego Bughatti Chiron that was also a gift. (Plus several that transform into robots, or are MASK vehicles.)

      1. Le Messor

        I was just at a shop that was selling (second-hand) a whole series of Bond cars and magazine; one of those subscription things you get at newsagents. there were at least 80, and I didn’t think there were that many!

  2. JHL

    At this point I’m almost exclusively digital when reading comic. The only physical comics I get are trades of things I have already read on my iPad that I want a physical copy of so that I am able to loan them to friends to read. That said, to me digital copies and TPBs of older comics most certainly suffer by not having the ads that originally ran in the first run floppies. I always find seeing the various ads, whether they be for toys, movies, Saturday morning cartoon line ups, snacks, or house ads for other comics add an awareness of and context for the time the stories originated. And they are often fun to peruse in their own right. A while back I was flipping through a very early Avengers comic and scanned through one of those ad pages that was set up with a ton of text ads in the style of a newspaper’s personals section. Smack in the middle was one of those couple of line ads from a comics shop said they would send you their back issue catalog for a dollar. Thing was it was for Clint’s Books and Comics in KC, the go to comics shop from my childhood back in the 80’s. Which led my to do a bit of research and discover that Clint’s was one of the counties earliest dedicated comics shops. Still open as far as I know.

  3. jccalhoun

    I did a couple model cars as a kid. It was ok. I guess it is a challenge of manual dexterity and you get the sense of accomplishment when you complete it. I also guess it is a way to inculcate kids into car culture at an early age. I never got the people that had tons of them though. Once you built them they just sat around. it wasn’t like a remote control or matchbox car that you could really play with.

    I think it is a shame that reprints of old comics leave out the gag strips, text pieces, and backup stories. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to get permission for reprinting ads but they are fun to look at.

    I wonder if there could ever be enough interest in a reprint of the gag strips and PSAs?

    1. Le Messor

      I think it is a shame that reprints of old comics leave out the gag strips, text pieces, and backup stories.

      Depends on the reprint, but yeah.
      I’ve always felt hypothetically sorry for people who, (as an example), are New Warriors fans and want to collect all of Firestar’s appearances – but those include Marvel Comics Presents #81-83; which also had Weapon X in it. So now the fan can pay the collectors’ price for that run, when Weapon X has been reprinted but Firestar’s story probably won’t ever be.

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