Before that horrible movie and its sequel, Ghost Rider enjoyed a long run as total bad-ass and alternative for kids who liked horror comics a little more than superhero comics, so Marvel mashed the two together like what Hershey did with peanut butter and chocolate. Ghost Rider was gritty, dark, and pretty far out; since most of his issues dealt with Satan, and pentagrams, and Hell, and selling your soul. But we’re not really here today to dissect Ghost Rider. We’re here to talk about the ads in a Ghost Rider book. So let’s dig in!
This Ghost Rider issue is a classic example of bait and switch because instead of rescuing Legs McGee from a phantom WWI bi-plane with machine guns like the cover art suggests, Ghost Rider actually rescues this old guy.
In fact a woman doesn’t appear in the comic at all except for one side panel where Johnny Blaze has his obligatory flashback to how he sold himself to the Devil to save the souls of his girlfriend and her dad and blah, blah, blah, blah. There are no women anywhere else in this sausage party of a comic book. Unless you count this guy who shows up on page eighteen.
Enough about Peter Fonda up there. Let’s get to the ads! Our first gem of an ad shows up on page nine. It is for THE TOTAL SELF-DEFENSE SYSTEM of Karate, Kung-Fu, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Savate, Aikido, and Tae-Kwon-Do.
I am not really going to talk about Savate here because Savate is French Kick-Boxing, which being French, I assume means you stand around and smoke while mocking your opponents fashion sense. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Anyway, the good news is that you can learn all seven of these deadly fighting techniques and become Bruce Lee wrapped in a giant ball of Chuck Norris – all from the comfort of your own home! The print might be hard to make out, but the writers of this ad must’ve taken a few psychology courses before they dropped out of whatever junior college they were attending. The language flows and tugs right at the Freudian heart strings of every wimp who secretly wants to be a ninja. Here are a few choice examples verbatim. I am not making these up:
“In the shortest time you can learn the fantastic techniques of self-defense and you’ll never be afraid again!”
“Regardless of your age, you can master this TOTAL SELF-DEFENSE SYSTEM! It doesn’t require muscles or size to be a MASTER at self-defense.” “The Knowledge of Karate has enabled small, slight men to successfully and completely protect themselves from men twice their size.”
After hooking the small, slight man who is always afraid, but also likes to read Ghost Rider – the writers begin to turn the ad into a bloody quest for vengeance against anyone who has wronged their patsy.
“Your hands will have the power of an axe and you can use your elbows, knees and feet as death-dealing clubs!”
“You’ll reduce any assailant to cringing helplessness, in just seconds.”
“You’ll fear no man… ever!”
It goes on and on about confidence and protecting loved ones; and I’m actually surprised it didn’t start promising blowjobs and free cocaine to the soon-to-be Karate Master reading it. The little clip out portion where you give them your name and address so they can send you a free “colorful” brochure was interesting, because it also promised to send you a quarter to reimburse the cost of sending them the bottom right hand corner of page nine of your Ghost Rider comic book. Thanks, Karate!
On page 12 we come across a cavalcade of awesome where we find yet another Karate course, Charles Atlas He-Man body building, free facts on how to become a Game Warden, and the best of all: “MARKET PLACE.”
The Charles Atlas ad is pretty standard stuff that has been around since the 1920s. Charles Atlas was born Angelo Siciliano in 1892 and really did turn himself from a 97 pound weakling into walking beefcake.
With dreamboat eyes.
Atlas died in 1972, three years before this comic was published but his company still exists today and still does the exact thing it promises in this 40 year old ad. Here’s their website.
Right next to Charles Atlas we find “Free Facts” on how to become a Game Warden, Fish-Wildlife Manager, Forester, Government Hunter, or Aid/Assistant positions that require “less formal education”.
First off, I am petrified to know what a “Government Hunter” is, especially since the fine print says they’re G.I. Bill approved and I’m sure the positions were filled by PTSD Vietnam Vets reading Ghost Rider comics who were looking for work in 1975.
Moving down we have another home school Karate course and because I am a good journalist, I checked and this home school Karate course is indeed a different course from the one advertised on page nine. The page nine course is in Detroit, and this course is in Cincinnati. So yeah, totally different. Directly below Cincy Karate, we have an ad promising to set your poems to music. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to read the poems of someone who reads Ghost Rider comics, much less hear them turned into songs. Brrrrrrrr.
Then we come to “Market Place” which apparently is a classifieds section for the deranged. It gets weirder and weirder as you travel through each section. This may be the single most insane thing ever written.
The first classified section is for the coolest of all things: VENTRILOQUISM. You can get “exciting” illustrated information if you write to someplace in Colorado and I guess put, “make me lame” on the postcard.
The second section is MAGIC TRICKS – JOKES. Here you can “amaze, fool friends” whatever that means, with a “super-giant” magic catalog that costs 25 cents and is in New Jersey.
The third section is my favorite. It is called RECORDS and simply says “Scare the daylights out of your friends”. Send a stamp to Florida and presto! Your friends will shit their pants in fear.
In the OF INTEREST TO ALL section, if you send $2.00 to Ed Bigelow he will send you a catalog of 8×10 Planet of the Apes photos. This of course is totally of interest to everyone and I’m sure Ed Bigelow made a fortune.
EDUCATION – HOME STUDY offers free information for a Detective course because page twelve of Ghost Rider comics is generally how most P.I.s get started.
The MONEY MAKING OPPORTUNITIES section is the largest. The first is simply information on how to make money by writing short paragraphs. I have to admit, that one intrigues me. Hell, this short paragraph right here has to be worth at least a fiver.
The second classified in this section is for Fantastic Money in Unique Craft. Send them $10 and they’ll refund it. Ok….
If writing short paragraphs isn’t your cup of tea, the third classified tells you how to make money addressing envelopes. And hold on, because spiraling further down the rabbit hole, that is immediately followed by a classified for a $1.00 kit on how to make money stuffing envelopes. Lastly we finished with another classified for addressing envelopes. I had no idea the U.S. economy in the 70’s was so tied to envelopes, what was in them, and how they were addressed. No wonder Disco happened.
The next section is PERSONAL – MISCELLANEOUS and contains one classified for…gaining weight? What the mother-trucking hell? What is it, a catalog for cheeseburgers and cupcakes?
We end MARKET PLACE with the section ADVERTISERS – AGENCIES which contains the solitary classified for the “Secrets of Successful Classified Advertising“. Because remember, when you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you.
Holy shit! Page twenty-one is here to kick the crap out of anyone who wasted their time on page nine. It’s Count Dante, THE DEADLIEST MAN ALIVE.
Count Juan Raphael Dante is the undefeated supreme Grand Master of fighting arts. He won the totally not made up 1965 World Overall Fighting Arts Championship in a friggin’ DEATH MATCH and now wants to give you the secrets of the BLACK DRAGON FIGHTING SOCIETY and he wants to do it all for FREE, Bitch!
Count Dante is a real person by the way, or he was a real person because he and his magnificent sideburns died on May 25th, 1975 a mere five days before this issue of Ghost Rider hit newsstands.
Dante was actually born John Timothy Keehan in Chicago and after a stint in the Marines he changed his name and claimed that he had won a bunch of illegal and secret karate death matches in Asia. Kind of like that Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport only also imaginary and not true. Look, it’s easy to say you were the winner of a death match since your opponent is dead and can’t say otherwise. Also, any witnesses would be accessories to murder so they ain’t talking. By the way, I just won four death matches while typing this.
Anyway, Count Dante claimed he could five-finger-death punch people, but was in fact a con artist and petty criminal who was arrested for attempted arson after he was caught in the act of taping goddamn DYNAMITE to a rival Chicago dojo. Yes, he tried to blow up a rival dojo with dynamite because go big or go home. This began what was called The Dojo Wars and in 1970 Dante and some of his students went to a rival dojo, claimed to be police officers and attacked the rival dojo’s students. The judge threw that case out of court because it was stupid. (I am not making that up, the judge said it was stupid). It has also been suggested that Dante was a mastermind in the notorious 1974 Chicago Purolator vault robbery in which 4.3 million dollars was stolen.
Anyway, rush in the bottom of page twenty-one of your Ghost Rider comic and get the brochure plus a Black Dragon Fighting Society ID card. It’ll let everyone know you’re connected to a deranged psychopath criminal and shouldn’t be f*cked with at all. No need to learn Karate! Just say, “Count Dante is my co-pilot.”
There’s a lot going on with the ads on page twenty-five.
For one, the North American School of Motorcycle Repair is spending its money well, since Ghost Rider is a comic about a demonic super hero who rides an extremely cool motorcycle, taking a half page is a pretty smart move. On the bottom half of the page you’ve got more Kung Fu and learning to play the guitar in seven days or you get your $3.98 back is a nice deal. There’s also an ad for a surveying career kit which says it’s a job that pays big. I, however, want to focus on the one ad in the bottom right corner. The one that says a fake Van Dyke will get you laid.
“ENJOY AN EXCITING, ROMANTIC LOOK IMPRESSIVE ANYTIME” with a fake mustache, sideburns, and Van Dyke for the low, low price of $7.00. Just look at that magnificent bastard!
You can do quick changes with them too, or as the ad describes it: “QUICK CHANGE to suit your mood time.” Mood time? WTF… Come to think of it, “Mood Time” sounds like the perfect 70’s era cologne. “What’s that smell?” “Just my Mood Time, baby.”
Regardless, you can get your fake hair in several colors including: blonde, black, light brown, medium brown, dark brown, grey, silver, auburn, or you can send them a sample of your own hair which they will not use in any sort of crazy genetic DNA experiments.
Page twenty-nine gets us to some of the best comic book advertising of all time. It’s when the Hostess company decided the best possible cross-promotion was to show comic book fans their favorite superheroes solving crime by throwing pastries at the villains instead of hitting them with laser bolts and Adamantium claws.
Hostess employed this campaign in both the pages of Marvel and DC titles but naturally the copyrighted character properties never strayed away from their home universes. So, here on page twenty-nine of a Ghost Rider book, we get a short Spider-Man adventure called “THE TRAP“. Spidey is slinging around town like you do when his Spider Sense starts going off. He climbs through an open window and is immediately captured by two goons of a horribly dressed super criminal known only as “Boss” because Hostess didn’t pay the writer enough to give more than three f*cks.
Spider-Man is caught in a Super-Steel Spider-Net and Boss tells him that trying to escape is pointless because they have a “windowless, five-foot thick concrete security cell“.
A windowless cell is a great trap or would be because in the very next panel, we see Spider-Man in that security cell and notice THE BARRED WINDOW. A WINDOW WHICH SPIDER-MAN STICKS HIS HAND OUT OF IN THE PANEL AFTER THAT!
Thanks to window in his windowless cell, Spider-Man is able to pull several Hostess fruit pies out of his Spider-Underwear and then use them to bribe the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun wielding goon guarding the cell. The goon had just said he wouldn’t let Spider-Man out of the cell for a “million bucks”, but once he’s presented with Hostess fruit pies warmed by the body heat of Spider-Man’s loins, he can’t resist.
Spider-Man smartly then flees this horror dungeon of depravity, leaving this deranged maniac to his “treats”, because this man is clearly the most unhinged criminal in the entire Marvel Universe.
The story Ghost Rider is sort of involved in concludes on the very next page and we can thankfully have some closure as we try to drive the image of that guy eating underwear pies out of our minds.
Join us for Part Three of Classic Comic book adverts coming just as soon as I dig out another old back issue and spend three hours scanning and cropping the madness of it onto the web. If you missed Part One, you can check it out in my author archives at Long Awkward Pause.
Until next time, Excelsior!
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