I was never going to be Spider-Man—no matter how I tried to swing from washing lines or scale neighborhood walls or tumble out of trees. My enthusiasm for imitating Peter Parker always ended in disaster and bruised limbs. Obviously being a superhero was not all it was cracked-up to be. And when I thought about it further it seemed a rather silly career option—there was no pay, no pension plan, and the insurance premiums, well, they had to massive. Before hitting double-figures in years I’d given up on joining the the Avengers or the Justice League and was happy just to read of their incredible adventures in the pages of comics.
Being born and raised in Scotland meant an intermittent supply of such comic books capers. Most of these magazines way back then were brought over to Glasgow as ballast on cargo ships delivering goods and produce from America and beyond. This premium ballast would later be sold in the likes of a wee crammed kiosk near Queen Street Station, or the local newsagent and grocer (McGregor’s) in Blairdardie. Yet, the pleasure of the action-packed panels in every Spider-Man or Batman, was equalled (and often bettered) by the thrill of the adverts for toys, goods and services posted in every issue.
America was known as “the land of plenty,” and going by the vast range of toys and goods advertised, this seemed to be true. Toys were not only plentiful over there but cheap, bewitching and utterly exotic. Coins to hypnotize your friends. Sea monkeys that could live in a goldfish bowl and be trained to perform tricks! X-ray specs guaranteed to make everything see-thru. A Polaris submarine—more than seven feet long—which I dreamt of traveling in along the Forth-Clyde Canal, avoiding the ghostly weeds, the garbage, discarded shopping trolleys, and the imaginary gangsters—pale, bloated and tethered to weighty blocks of concrete. But of course I knew—just like my failed attempt to imitate the web-slinger—that these adverts of youthful dreams were equally illusory and would always seem far, far better in print than ever in real life.
These are the ads I salivated over most—and to be frank a part of me still does hanker after them.
This was top of my list as must have.
Kinda looks like that monster from ‘Night of the Demon.’
I eventually bought a rubber skull mask from a joke shop—it gave me… er… minutes of fun.
More comic book ads, after the jump…