12 Comic Book Ads That Taught Us To Be Cynical

12 Comic Book Ads That Taught Us To Be Cynical

Kids are stupid. It's well known, and there is a whole industry that thrives on it.

This is why as kids, every so often we'd come across an ad in a comic book, for something we knew was too good to be true. But still, we'd put money in an envelope and four to six weeks later, get something amazing that would make the rest of our lives whole lot easier. That thing? Disappointment.

Here's our salute to all the great products that taught us to be cynical.

X-Ray Specs

Ever wish you could see through walls? Or ladies clothes? Or men's clothes? Dog's clothes? Don't worry we won't judge you. But we will offer you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually have X-ray vision!

As the ads says, all you have to do is buy these special X-ray glasses and you can become the disgusting leering pervert you've always wanted to be. Also you'll presumably be able to diagnose certain illnesses at a glance.

The reality ...
You waited six to eight weeks for delivery, only to find out that, no, these X-ray glasses did not in fact use real X-rays (probably a good thing since everyone who used them would have developed massive brain tumors) and wouldn't let you see through anything, not even them.

These old fashioned X-ray spec lenses consisted of two pieces of cardboard with a feather between them to blur your vision, causing two slightly offset images which appear similar to an X-ray photograph. So in other words they give you blurry vision which could have been obtained for free by squinting. What we're saying is if your doctor declares you to be tumor-free using a pair of these, get a second opinion.

The Money Maker

All right, so your eight years on the planet have established that hard work is for suckers. But you still want money to buy things like comics books. There's got to be an easier way.

The reality ...
Then you find this little ad. It's so small it's almost as if it's a "secret."

A machine that turns ordinary paper into money ... just turn the knob and real money comes out. Sounds good. Sounds down right amazing, in fact. And probably illegal. Even if it is illegal you're just a kid, you'll never do any hard time and by the time you get caught you'll be stinking rich and can hire the best lawyers. What can go wrong?

You have to put money in it first. Sure it looks like paper is going in and coming out as money but it's all a despicable, cheap ruse.

No, the only way you'll make money with this thing is to demonstrate it for some local mobsters and try to get them to buy it from you. They wouldn't whack a little kid, right?


Think about it: You could have the power to bring the all powerful Superman to his knees, in the palm of your hand. Nobody's been able to beat Superman and you'll be the first. Think how awesome it will be to go around and have everyone point at you and say, "Hey that's the kid who beat Superman."

People will respect you, they may even fear you! For a total of $3.50!

The reality ...
Somewhere behind this amazing product was an entrepreneur who had some extra rocks, a can of green paint and a vision.

You may wonder what kind of bastard would cheat kids out of their money by selling them green painted rocks. But that same man may rightfully point out that you deserved to lose your money, because what kind of a rotten kid dreams of killing Superman?

We like to think of all the terrified little kids who, upon discovering their rocks were fake, decided the whole thing was a sting operation by Superman to get the addresses of potential supervillains.

CB Receiver

You heard them: It's absolutely vital for every driver, housewife, shut-in, teenager, sportsman and law enforcement agency! If you don't fit into one of those categories, buy one anyway and maybe someday you yourself will become a teenager or even one of those illustrious shut-ins we always see on TV and in the movies!

You'll be alerted to coming fires, floods, blizzards, riots, criminals on the loose, airplane crashes, tornadoes and even poor traffic conditions! You'll know what's going to happen before everyone else, you'll be like God! Plus you'll also receive a 10-page book on trucker code! And we can't emphasize enough that it's absolutely vital for shut-ins!

The reality ...
When it comes time to warn us about "FIRES, FLOODS, HURRICANES TORNADOES" we like to think that the regular radio will do that, with the added bonus of also playing music on it's many channels.

But hey, teenagers can attach them to their bicycles so they'll be warned about dangers ahead! All dangers except the many well-deserved ass kickings they'll get for being the dork who rides around with CB receiver on his bike.

Though there is one upside, which is the fact that you can listen to truckers and if there is anything truckers know, it's prostitutes. Truckers have over a dozen slang terms for prostitutes, none of which are included in your handy 10-page trucker code book.

Never Look Short Again!

Sick of being short? Let's face it, tall people get more dates, more respect and better jobs. But if you can't afford expensive body-lengthening surgery, you can simply get yourself a pair of "liftee" height-increasing pads.

The reality ...
Yes, they're just wedges you put in your shoes. Sure, according to the picture up there, they'll make you about eight-inches taller, but at the price of making you feel like you're wearing high heels.

The promise that the shoes will "invite romance" seems a little dubious, as the effect only lasts until you take the shoes off, so you better have, ahem, another way to impress the ladies once the disrobing begins. Like if you take off your shirt and have an Olympic gold medal there.

The claim that you'll "Find and qualify for the best jobs" seems even more questionable. Find, maybe, but qualify? "Well sir your resume doesn't show any gynecological experience and your background check revealed you're a convicted sex offender, but your tallness is very impressive. Congratulations you're our newest gynecologist! Here's three company pens, try not to lose them."

Though we don't doubt these shoe inserts worked better than the GROW MAN GROW program ...

Which offered a series of "courses" that would add up to six inches to your height. That's right, kid, the reason you're a head shorter than anyone else in your class is because you didn't study tallness like they did.

Frontier Cabin

You! Yes you! Could own your very own frontier cabin just like Abe Lincoln, Grizzly Adams and all those lunatics who thought Y2K was going to end the world and coming soon--all those lunatics who think 2012 is going to destroy the world! You can reenact all those great things you've seen happen in cabins in movies!

The reality ...
Sure it's only 23-square-feet big, but a studio apartment in Manhattan that size would cost $2,000 a month. No, the major problem with your frontier cabin is that it's made of 100 percent cardboard, which is a less than sturdy housing material. Especially if you're living on the frontier, where you need a home that can stand up to things like bear attacks, strong winds, rain and the occasional light kick.

Though it is cool that they sold them in bulk ("5 for $4!") so that if your cabin should be destroyed in a natural disaster or peed on by the family dog, you can just whip out a replacement. In fact, with these things on the market for a buck, we're wondering why a homeless man would ever opt for a refrigerator box.

BF Goodrich Bear Escape Shoes

Maybe your frontier cabin won't protect you from bear attacks, but with these shoes, you can outrun a bear! How could a shoe help you perform such a feat of miraculous speed? Well that's simple you money-squandering brat! It's all in BF Goodrich's design!

See the PF Flyer shoe has a rubber cushion for comfort and an amazing "rigid wedge" in the middle of the sole to keep your foot in place. Never worry about being able to outrun escaped circus bears ever again when you're out in the woods "trail blazing" with your two young male companions!

The reality ...
This is one of those situations where they know they'll never have to process a refund since they knew that any kid who wound up in a footrace with a bear wouldn't survive to complain. Hey, business is a ruthless game.

Regardless of your athletic ability or lack thereof, the shoes boast the claim of a miracle "rigid wedge" stationed in the middle of the shoe to hold your bones in place ...

Between this and the height-lift thing earlier, we have to ask what the hell was the deal with comic book advertisers wanting to torture children's feet. Was this a big front for a bunch of foot doctors trying to drive up business?

The Shocker

The Shocker is a state of the art, nearly invisible hand-held self-defense system that will allow you to cripple your victims without the need for exercise or years of martial arts training!

It was invented by Kiyo Mi Gawa, a highly trained master of unarmed combat who has won over 21 titles. Gawa saw a need for average people to have their own hand-held crippling device without going through years of training to learn boring things like "responsibility" and "proper use." The Shocker works on the pneumatic "Cripple Cushion Principle" which allows air hammers to smash through solid concrete!

It promises "EVEN DEADLY" results, and comes with a "Sign Of The Split Skull" lapel pin to show everyone you're totally ready to kill a dude!

The reality ...
The shocker allegedly worked on "pain waves" and despite the name, isn't actually electrified, it's just a thing you hold in your hand like the call button from your hospital bed, the kind of which you'll be using after you attempt to defend yourself with this device.

The ad really likes to hype up the idea of crippling people, which it actually does do. Just try to break a brick holding it like the guy shown in the ad, you'll definitely cripple your hand.

Our favorite part has to be the disclaimer on the order form which certifies that "you won't allow the shocker to fall in the hands of anyone dangerous or irresponsible." Dude, you put an ad for the thing in a comic book.


Buy our Hypno-Coin/device/instruction guide and you can make anyone do anything you want! Hypnotize a bully and have him give himself a wedgy, or have that gal you've been givin' the eyes to give you a kiss! Or go even further! Makes date rape a breeze--there's no need to buy pesky pills and slip in her drink!

Heck, why stop at date rape when you can have your school principal hand you their wallet while doing the funky chicken! Hypnotism will allow you to control any brainless drones you want, you'll be like God with that sort of power! You'll be better than God! You'll be exactly like Oprah!

The reality ...
This was little kid-thinking at its finest. Why weren't corporations and dictators using this forced hypnotism technique to take over the world? Why, because they're not cool enough to read the same comics I read, obviously!

Maybe at some point later in life you realized that if hypnotism works at all, it requires the subject to be extremely relaxed and open to suggestion, therefore if someone is walking or batting that stupid Hypno-Coin out of their face chances are they're not relaxed enough to be hypnotized.

Likewise, if you were a creepy dork who bought hypnotism devices out of comic books in an effort to finally score with women, the chances of those women being "extremely relaxed and open to suggestions" around you was very slim. The chances they'd mace you when you pulled out your Hypno-Coin was, however, very high.

Life-Size Inflatable Doll

Tired of striking out with women again and again? Is your face sore from getting slapped? Restraining orders clogging your mailbox? Well there's one girl that will never reject you no matter how fat, ugly, smelly, stupid, perverted, murderous or incarcerated you are! Meet Poly Ethelene, your life-size inflatable woman!

You can name her, dress her, take her swimming, use her to plea insanity in court, do whatever you want! We mean whatever you want.

The reality ...
"So our heaviest readership demographic is males between the ages of 10 and 15. What would be a good product to promote in that space?"

"Hmmmm ... how about a life-sized plastic fuck doll?"

"Brilliant. Make some calls."

Unfortunately, any young man who saved up for this miracle device quickly found that they left out a critical feature of female anatomy, despite what the ad claims.

Though we do commend them for their money back guarantee if you're not "100% delighted." We'd like to meet the person who worked the phone lines taking refund requests from those not "100% delighted" with their inflatable women. They've probably got some hilarious, or possibly terrifying, stories to tell.

Monkey in a Teacup

Wouldn't it be cool to have your own pet money? How much would you pay to have what would undoubtedly be the coolest pet on your block?

Well how about this offer of a small, portable monkey at almost no cost! What a perfectly reasonable offer!

The reality ...
Believe it or not, the monkey wasn't a stuffed animal. It was real, and it was possible to get one.

The scam was the company would send you 20 coupons to give out for their special color photos, which were actually black and white photos the customers provided that they colored in by hand for a fee (no, it didn't make a whole lot of sense). Anyway once you handed out the coupons you actually had to bring in 20 paying customers, which was nearly impossible since the thing you were selling was retarded.

But, some kids actually did pull it off, and the company actually did send them a small monkey, usually capuchins or marmosets. See back then the exotic animal trade wasn't regulated so they didn't realize that taking monkeys from South and Central America and giving them to kids in the US wasn't such a good idea.

Also, rat-dogs

So what you got was a wild monkey that had been poached from the jungle, caged, and shipped, arriving half dead and in a mood to bite or claw the first human it ran into. Also these monkeys can live up to 45 years in captivity, so these kids were in for the long haul. Still, they got to see the looks on their friends' faces when they showed them they had a real, live fucking monkey, and that probably made the whole thing worth it.

Polaris Nuclear Sub

"How proud you will be as commander of the most powerful weapon in the world!" That's right kids you, yes you, can command a nuclear threat capable of killing millions of people! Comes with real firing missiles and torpedoes, a real periscope, an electrically lit control panel and is seven whole feet long!

Have fun sinking and surfacing and exploring the ocean floor! And becoming one of the world's nuclear powers! All that, for less than seven bucks!

The reality ...
Remember when we pointed out what cardboard wasn't a good material to make a frontier cabin out of? Well, it's even worse for submarines. We guess that's why they have all of those wacky cardboard boat races where the point is to watch everybody sink.

And don't tell us that it's just a submarine play set and not meant to be taken out to sea. Screw that, this thing offers "working" torpedoes. That means we should be able to fill the thing with food and go on a six-week voyage out to international waters to sink a Russian cruiser.

We're wondering how many kids took their Polaris sub out to the middle of a lake, only to find that it did the sinking part just fine, but without the "surfacing" and "not filling with water" that other, more expensive subs promise.

You want to know why the world is full of dictators like Kim Jong Il pushing to get nuclear programs? Because a few decades ago, they were kids. And they waited patiently for their mail order nuclear sub, only to find it was a cheap cardboard piece of crap. And they shook their fist and thought, "Some day, when I'm a grown up ... "

If you liked that you'll probably enjoy our look at 5 Retro Commercials Companies Would Like You to Forget. And don't forget to check out Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace to see which sites you shouldn't be inviting to your next intervention. Or head to the brand new Official Cracked.com Store and become a startlingly attractive walking advertisement for our site.

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?