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

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Charles Atlas promising to make wimpy comic book readers into he-men. Right: The notorious Sea Monkeys. Sources: (imgur.com; mentalfloss.com)

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.