Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Remember When They Advertised Comic Books on TV?

One reason I knew there were comic book shops is that a local shop advertised on TV, which eventually led to me going to comic book shops, which led to my obsessive hoarding of comics.  I know there were other times that comics advertised on TV, but I’m going to talk about two ads that a local shop used about 25 years ago that led to me visiting them for the first time.

OK, with this one, you’ve got to believe me.  I can’t seem to find a version where a comic shop advertised at the end of this one, but I swear it is true.

This is the opening of the “Pryde of the X-Men” pilot cartoon, and my local shop advertised using most? all? of this intro with a “get your X-Men comics here” type sting at the end.

I just remember that “X-Men!  X-Men!” chant throughout.  It’s haunting, isn’t it?  Thanks to “rigmutton” for posting this on the YouTube that the kids all seem to like.

But I do not need to convince you of the legitimacy of this next one.  This is one where DC definitely advertised on TV.  It appears to be a short spot created by DC that allowed a local shop to add in their own info when they advertised on the local TV or cable channels.

Thanks to “Keith Richardson” for posting this one and confirming I’m not insane.  Well, not on this one, at least!

Let’s look into this one more.  There’s a neat little easter egg of sorts in that what’s playing on the TV appears to be the beginning of the ’89 Batman movie.  Actually, listening to this a few times, I think that’s the Danny Elfman soundtrack playing underneath the narration.  There’s also a Batmobile on the floor under the lamp, too.

I’m so amused by the “cool” stuff this dude has, too.  There’s the guitar, because he serenades his lady, obviously.  His great TV and audio, and he’s filming this on his own camcorder, so that’s very hip.  An old-timey radio in the corner, where the Killing Joke et al are resting on.  Apparently he couldn’t afford any lights, however.

And the voiceover…DC was on their “comics aren’t for kids!” kick then, so it’s a bit ugh-inducing, as well as defensive — “no, really!  Comics aren’t just for losers!”.  Which is also shown by the “girlfriend”.  Not only is she attractive, but she reads comics too!  I don’t know about the “sophisticated horror” or “action stories”, but they were definitely selling some science fiction here!

I’d like to point out as well that in the draft of this before I found the posted ad, I wrote that the voiceover talked about the “sophisticated horror of Swamp Thing, dark fantasy of Sandman”, so I definitely remembered that “sophisticated horror” bit, but forgot which comic it applied to.

Let’s look at the GNs that are featured here.  Make clicky on them and you’ll get the Amazon links, and you’ll send some scratch my way if you buy anything there.  The first batch, in the corner, feature from left to right: Ronin, something too dark for me to see clearly and which I therefore have absolutely no guess about, and Batman: The Killing Joke (and man, either they have something sitting on the comic that’s made up to look like the Joker’s left hand and arm, or Bolland did an amazing job of making it look 3-D)

Batman Killing Joke cover Hoarder advertised
That does look 3-D-ish here

Then below that, you’ve got, left to right, Batman: Digital Justice… and then I can’t tell with the other two.  I thought the one in the middle might be a Piranha Press book, but I can’t seem to find it.  And the one on the right looks almost like a Bisley Lobo cover, but it could be a Swamp Thing?  It’s driving me nuts!

At 11 seconds, we’ve panned down to the coffee table, and we see Dark Knight Returns (with something to the left of that?  Maybe the back cover of Watchmen with the bio pictures?), 2 open comics with what appears to be McKean art, so maybe Arkham Asylum or Black Orchid (probably the latter, as I haven’t read that one), and then Sandman: The Doll’s House trade (I actually have a copy of the 1990 edition, I believe!).

Then at 15 seconds, we have Watchmen, y’know, one of those… “action stories” (ugh!), with Arkham Asylum to the left and an open Batman: Digital Justice to the right.  There’s also a mysterious blue thing to the left of Arkham, but I can’t tell what it is when the camera moves in those few seconds from 11 to 15.  And of course Tina is reading Black Orchid.  Holding it really close to her face, too, if you look carefully.

cute black orchid reader comics advertised on TV

Man, I wonder who did that narration, and who “Tina” is.  Did they film this at a DC employee’s place, or did they make up an “apartment” on a sound stage somewhere?

Based on the time period of when the featured GNs were released (and it’s interesting that they actually do use the term “graphic novels” in there), I’d say this commercial was made around 1990 or possibly 1991 (despite the YouTuber saying it was from 1994 — apparently some stores still used it until at least then).  I know I saw it by about the end of 1991, or very early 1992, as I had convinced my mom to take my sister and I to the local shop advertised with this commercial in January of 1992, 25 years ago.

But that’s a story for next time….


  1. M-Wolverine

    Now I’m trying to remember…did the old GI Joe comic book commercials they ran during the cartoon eventually have “now available at your local comic shops everywhere” type thing? Because I can’t remember how I found my comic shop. It was well before the early 90’s though. So I don’t know if a commercial clued me in, or just found it in the phone book or something.

    Memory is a funny thing. I always remembered it as “X-Men, X-Men, SAVING THE DAY, X-Men, X-Men, Coming Your Way!” Because it is an ear worm. But that’s not the second line at all. Though I think mine is better. But then this was from the people who made Wolverine Australian, so yeah.

    I think it’s pretty surely through, but that’s absolutely the Batman theme during the end where the logo comes up. And damn standard definition, because I keep watching it over and over to try and figure out that Joker arm. At the very least it gives the optical illusion of being 3D. But I can’t find anything on the web about there being a Killing Joke bookstand (even just a retailer one), so I don’t know. I’m pretty sure the original or some edition had embossing on it, but that looks like a lot more.

    I take less offense at the “comic books aren’t for kids” thing because really back then outsider really did think of Batman ’66, the Superman films (which had gone all the way through IV by then), cartoon (some quite good actually), and cheesy TV movies. When Batman ’89 came out a lot of people who hadn’t seen Batman since the 60’s complained it was too dark. So there was still a lot of that to fight.

    But yeah, the girl was over the top. There were certainly exceptions, but there weren’t too many women period, no more women like that, reading comic books back then. Now it’s common place, but that was a different time.

    1. Le Messor

      Yeah, when I read the article title, I thought this would be about the famous GI Joe ad.

      Hearing that ear-worm, I really hear the anime in it for some reason.
      “But then this was from the people who made Wolverine Australian, so yeah.”
      I can’t think of a single suggested casting for him who hasn’t been Aussie. Has somebody suggested Clint Eastwood? If so, then him.
      That includes the two guys who actually got the role (Dougray Scott, who had to pull out, and Hugh Jackman, obvs).

      Looking at the left edge of the The Killing Joke cover, it really looks to me like that arm thing goes off the page.

      One of my LCSs advertised on radio once, but never TV that I know of. (Okay, this should’ve been in my general reply below, but I forgot, okay?)

      1. Le Messor

        (PS: the way I wrote that is unclear: I’m aware they actually gave Wolverine an Australian accent in the show, which is different to casting an Australian to play him. It’s just something I’ve noticed.)

        1. M-Wolverine

          I always thought it was funny that they got an Australian guy to play him (and play him Canadian, whatever that means), after there was Australian cartoon Wolverine. Which was actually predated by Australian Spiderman and his Amazing Friends Wolverine.


          Maybe they should have just made him Australian lol.

      2. M-Wolverine

        Being the Internet and all, you can watch all those GI Joe commericals-


        To add to your Australian actors to be Wolverine, I’m not sure he’s ever confirmed the role, but Russell Crowe has long talked about turning down a super hero role (much before becoming Superman’s father) and it’s been wildly speculated that it was Wolverine. So that’d be 3 guys offered the role.

        I think a good bit of Old Man Logan was Eastwood. But back before it was cast in the “if you could cast anyone, ever to play the role” I always thought Wolverine should be played by Charles Bronson. Tough guy, dark, weathered, mysterious, and wasn’t Logan short but wasn’t really very tall either. (In much the same way that Patrick Stewart was great as Professor X, but to me Professor X from the comics was always Bronson’s Magnificent Seven co-star Yul Brenner).

        And this site has a TV program that airs locally, and the stream doesn’t include the commercials I don’t think, but a number of the local comic book shops air commercials during it.



        1. Edo Bosnar

          Hmm, I’ve always thought the ideal actor to play Wolverine is Fred Ward – he looks the most like Logan, especially the way Byrne drew him, and he’s even about the right height, i.e., short.

        2. Le Messor

          “Maybe they should have just made him Australian lol.”

          Maybe. ‘cept we don’t have Wolverines here*, and ‘The Tasmanian Devil’ would give the wrong impression. 🙂

          I watched some of The Magnificent Seven last week. (But I had to go to bed – it was late at night and I’m usually an early sleeper / riser. Nothing against the movie itself.)

          * Technically, there’s no reason he couldn’t be from Australia and still be called ‘Wolverine’. We’ve heard of them here.

          1. M-Wolverine

            Tasmanian Devil? Wrong company. 😉

            It’s funny how “international ” heroes have to be named after animals around there, but American heroes can be named after all sorts of animals, native or not.

            Hopefully the original 7. Though the remake doesn’t look too bad.

          2. Le Messor

            Original. Definitely! 🙂

            I’ve noticed that about international heroes. I then look at sports teams around here with names like Vikings… etc… not particularly Oz. (We also have names like ‘Wallabies’, which are, and I’m not sure if we call horses ‘Broncos’ here or not.)

  2. Le Messor

    “Ronin, something too dark for me to see clearly”
    Looks like the word is ‘TITANS’, but it looks nothing like the team of that name that one would normally associate with DC. Maybe it’s a sci-fi set on that moon?

    On top of Digital Justice looks like an issue of Sandman. It certainly starts with ‘SA…’ but you can see that yourself. The black bar on the spine says something “press”.

    “the one on the right looks almost like a Bisley Lobo cover,”
    Doesn’t look like Biz to me (the proportions are too human). I see a woman on the right-hand side, background, and a smaller guy in the bottom left corner.
    That doesn’t help, does it?

    All I see to the left of Watchmen is a black rectangle.

    “There’s also a mysterious blue thing to the left of Arkham,”
    If it’s a small blue thing, it’s Suzanne Vega.

    1. Corto

      Hey, Greetings from Germany here. Excuse my English, it’s a bit rusty.

      “On top of Digital Justice looks like an issue of Sandman. It certainly starts with ‘SA…’ but you can see that yourself. The black bar on the spine says something “press”. –
      No, if I remember it correctly, it would be Kyle Bakers “Why I hate Saturn”, the Piranha Press Edition.
      “the one on the right looks almost like a Bisley Lobo cover,” –
      This would be the Cover of Issue 2 from the original Books Of Magic Mini-Series by Neil Gaiman.

      Bye, and thanks for this delightful Website. Keep up the good Work everybody.

      1. Le Messor

        Danke schön.

        Deine Englieschen ist besser zu meine Deutsche.

        (Since that was so garbled, I was trying to say ‘Your English is better than my German’. I used the familiar. Apologies if that was presumptuous.)

  3. Tim Dennie

    I just can’t resist a challenge, although most of these I recognized right away.

    At 9 seconds: Ronin, New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (I had to cheat and look this one up), Batman: Killing Joke, Batman: Digital Justice, Why I Hate Saturn, and Books of Magic.

    The “3d Joker arm” is something they set in front of it to hold the books up. The poor lighting just makes it look like it matches the arm.

    12 sec: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, ?, Sandman, and Black Orchid.

    16 sec: Watchmen, Arkham Asylum, and Digital Justice.


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