One thing I have noticed in reading the issues from the 1970's into the 1980's is that the adds just aren't there today. The novelty adds, the back issue adds, the toys... just sort of faded away.  Anyone know how much of a hit this caused financially?

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As I said I doubt that sort of advertising could ever been reproduced today.  The web can give you just about everything and more.  Still it's fascinating to find out why they started to vanish. 

I wonder if the ads were always a loss leader.  Shooter seems to be implying that was the case.  If the "national ads" brought in more revenue but still not enough to be profitable, I'm guessing the novelty ads brought in peanuts.  Marvel was probably taking more of a hit financially with them versus when they went away.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

I wonder if the ads were always a loss leader.  Shooter seems to be implying that was the case.  If the "national ads" brought in more revenue but still not enough to be profitable, I'm guessing the novelty ads brought in peanuts.  Marvel was probably taking more of a hit financially with them versus when they went away.

Maybe the "novelty" ads cost Marvel a lot less?

Most parties that bought full page ads will have wanted the ads to be in colour. Many of the old-style ads were in single or limited colour. (There were exceptions, though: there were the Sea Monkeys ones, for example.) Possibly it was cheaper to print B&W ads or single colour ones than colour ones. But I'm not sure of that. Presumably the comics were printed on continuous sheets from rollers. That could mean if part of the comic was colour the whole thing was as far as the printer was concerned. But it may not have worked that way: I can think of mostly B&W comics with colour pages from Britain and Australia. The covers of US comics were printed separately from their interiors, so perhaps the page sorting machines could mix pages from different batches.


It seems to vary according to year and company.  A quick look at Action Comics from 1964 shows an add for selling Christmas cards, adds for Trix, Cheerios, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Lucky Charms, an add to visit the Worlds Fair Walters International Wax Museum (with Superman punching a cyclops), 100 toy soldiers and 204 revolutionary war soldiers, Silly putty, a make you into a he-man (not Charles Atlas) and a 132 Roman soldier kit for only 1.98.  I don't see novelty adds really start to appear until later in the 1960's.

The cost of a black and white ad would not involve doing color separations, so it would cost the publisher less which probably allowed them to charge slightly less, even if it was on the same large sheet as color pages.

Luke Blanchard said:

Why did the issues have to be 32 pages, if they were losing money printing the ad pages? Would the printers not take smaller per unit orders?

Books, magazines and newspapers are printed in large sheets that have to be folded and cut to eliminate the folds. This is why some comic books over the years have had pages that have to be separated to be read if they were not cut properly.

An excerpt from Wikipedia page Basic Book Design/Number of Pages:

"Offset presses print books in signatures of eight, sixteen, or thirty-two pages. E.g., a book can be 224 pages, but not 220 pages. Ask your printer what their presses do.It may be cheaper to print a 224-page book instead of a 216-page book. 224 pages is seven thirty-two-page signatures (a signature is a set of pages printed together). 216 pages is eight signatures: six thirty-two-page signatures, one sixteen-page signature, and one eight-page signature. I.e., the printing press needs to be set up only seven times for a 224-page book, but has to be set up eight times for a 216-page book. Each set-up costs money."

Thanks, Richard: for both points. I imagine colour separation was time-consuming. So a B&W white page likely took less time to set up, which probably means it was cheaper.

Lots of ads trying to get you to sell something, promising great prizes. Flower seeds. Grit. Anybody ever actually seen an issue of Grit? Lots of TV shows including The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days made episodes showing those things were scams and you'd end up having to buy the product yourself.

Looking it up, Grit went to all glossy in 2006. That worked out really well for CBG didn't it? Says Time Warner is distributing it. Does that make Grit part of DC?

Mark (and anyone else reading this), you should get Mail-Order Mysteries, a $20 HC (but less on Amazom). It features close-up color photographs of every novelty sold from comics you can remember. Each iten is described in terms of "We Imagined," "they Sent," "Customer Satisfaction," and, when applicable, "Behind the Mystery."

I didn't order too much stuff from these ads, but I did order some. I was usually disappointed, but nevertheless still curious about other items. (How did those "x-ray specs" work?) I'm not disappointed with this book at alll, though. All mysteries solved and all questions answered!

There's also a book on all the MMMS and Marvelmania stuff but last I heard it was sold out.

Wikipedia has a page on the X-ray specs here. Don't click through if it'll break your heart to hear they weren't really X-ray specs.

Yes, once. Early 1980s, I was coming out of a grocery store in West Columbia SC with my wife and son, and this teenage boy asks "Mister, would you please buy a Grit newspaper?"

Very soft sell, but what a blast from the past.I felt incredibly sorry for the kid and so bought a copy. Don't remember anything about the content.

Ronald Morgan said:

... Anybody ever actually seen an issue of Grit? ..

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