At the bottom of one of my drawers in the studio I unearthed an American superhero comic from the late 70's, I was never into superheroes much but the comics at that time were not that well established in the UK and more often than not tended to be the real imported American versions as opposed to the UK versions. They always intrigued me, not because of the story lines or artwork but because of their strange adverts for items I never knew existed.
Yes we had a joke shop nearby in Mansfield that sold plastic turds and such but these adverts were a completely different league from the childish things I could lay my hands on. Take a look at the photo above, who wouldn't want a Hercules Wrist Band or 8ft high balloons? Or maybe a giant slimy snake or bleeding skull candle was more your thing? It gave a sense of mystery about it that proved irresistible to me and I always longed to send off for some of the more quirky items. Alas it never happened, pocket money never stretched far enough to warrant a transatlantic order for an inflatable gorilla or a plastic sausage so instead I put up with an incredibly realistic looking polystyrene building brick, a prized joke shop find and contented myself with pouring boiling water on my plastic turd so it steamed and looked fresh. Urgh!
It all turned out well in the end when I came across this little book, apparently it wasn't just me that craved all these fantastical things.
A book about a guy with the same dreams only this time he tracked down all the items and displayed them in all their glory, boy did I save myself some disappointment!
There was one that I did fall for though, X-Ray vision, after all who didn't want to see through walls, clothes etc it was like being superman and I hastily released them from their plastic packet after handing over my hard earned 25p.
Why yes, I can see the bones in my hand! But why can't I see through clothes? Are they faulty?
No, they were not faulty, I found out when I took them apart. Between the thin cardboard lenses I found a birds feather. Seriously, they were stuffed with feathers. The X-Ray vision was just an optical illusion, I was gutted, I paid good money for a feather.
So if you have a passing interest in this type of stuff try hunting this book down, it's a great insight to the power of marketing, the deviousness of business and the general quirkiness of something of the like we will never see again. Now where did I put that foaming lighter and instructions to build a working laser pistol from an ordinary torch?