Comic Book Rip-Off Ads: Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Specs, And More

By | June 28, 2019

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Left: Charles Atlas promising to make wimpy comic book readers into he-men. Right: The notorious Sea Monkeys. Sources: (;

Sea Monkeys were actual humanoids with tails and funny crowned heads that lived in a bowl. A pair of glasses enabled you to see through clothing. And a seven-foot submarine you and a friend could pilot. Advertisements in comic books have promised unbelievable products for decades.

Unbelievable! As in, don't believe it. It's not real.

If you read a comic book between the 1940s and 1980s then you were inundated by cheap-looking ads for everything from toy soldiers to girl-enticing muscles. Anyone who spent their hard-earned lawn-mowing money on any of these products knows that most of the products were definitely not as advertised, but the ads were bizarre enough to make kids keep the faith that the next ad might offer something real.

As strange as many of these ads are, they definitely hold a kind of magic. When you see these ads it’s hard not to feel nostalgic for a time when you could pick up sea monkeys from the pages of a comic. 

Attacking The Young Imagination With Advertising Copy

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The "giant monster" advertisement was a classic -- and the product was a wall hanging of some sort. Basically a poster. But to youngsters who were prone to believe what they read, the advertising copy was enticing:

Imagine your friends' shock when they walk into your room and see the "MONSTER" reaching out -- bigger than life — Frankenstein, the original man-made monster, that creation of evil genius that terrorized the world. A giant 7 feet tall, his eyes glow eerily as his hand reaches out -- as awful and sinister as the wildest nightmare. Yes -- Frankenstein is 7 feet tall, in authentic colors, on durable polyethylene, and so lifelike you'll probably find yourself talking to him. Won't you be surprised if he answers? 

Indeed, that would be surprising.