Horror Comic Book Ads we Adore!
Advertising for comic and horror related swag is something I’ve always had an interest in. I never got into super hero comics (which isn’t to say that the MCU is totally lost on me); but I read the hell out of stuff from Vertigo, 8-Ball, and anything with a zombie or serial killer on the cover. I read comic book versions of X-Files, Twilight Zone, Psycho, and anything that even remotely whiffed of William Gaines. Something about horror comics just makes me want to read them hidden under a blanket with a flashlight. Sure, in the beginning it was about hiding that I was reading when I should have been sleeping. These days though—I’m allowed to stay up until all hours. Yet I still have the urge to treat my comic book reading like an indulgent secret.
Few things filled me with the high level of nostalgia as the ads. People never seemed exactly sure how to market products related to horror or pop culture. That’s why many of these ads ended up being about as effective as those anti-drug PSAs where someone’s poor kitchen gets bashed with a frying pan. It’s your kitchen on drugs or something. Do any 98-pound weaklings really need mail order products to help them kick sand in the bully’s face? Will Sea Monkeys really wear funny clothes and play volleyball? It doesn’t matter—comic book ads make you want that stuff, and want it bad.
Every so often, I still get the urge to order Sea Monkeys even though I know how it’ll turn out: with me staring intently into the chemical-laden distilled water, wondering how long it will be until the brine shrimp get knocked over, drunk by the cat, or die because the replacement food packet never actually showed up. That doesn’t stop me from ordering them, and it certainly doesn’t stop me wanting to give them as gifts to unsuspecting children (or adults).
Comic book ads have their own style and are an art form unto itself. Even when I try my best to emulate classic ads, I just can’t seem to nail it. What am I missing? I just don’t know. Maybe you can tell me.
In the end it’s hard not to be at least a little enchanted with comic book ads—especially the scary ones. When I was running Under the Bed magazine, I tried hard to bring a nostalgic, Tales from the Crypt-ish feel to it. That included modern versions of old-school comic book ads. It’s hard to say whether or not I succeeded. But I will say that I’ll never stop trying. Future The Horror Within anthologies are sure to strive for that same comic flavor, horror nostalgia, and love for the good old days (even though they happened before I was born). Wanna create your own versions of classic comic book ads? We’d love to see them, so hit us up!