Tag Archives: Seventies

The Essential TV Guide Fall Preview Issues of the 80s, Part 6: 1979!

I think winter is finally passing in my area and the theme for Spring here at Branded in the 80s is certainly spring cleaning.  Along with diving into my mostly un-read collection of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style books, I’m also going to try and dive back into some of the other projects I started on Branded awhile ago, namely looking at my collection of TV Guide Fall Preview issues from 1977-1990.  I’ve already covered the 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, & 1982 issues, so this week I thought I’d fill in the gap by taking a look at the 1979 issue…

       

As you can read in the short segment labeled Changes in the pages above, 1979 was all about change, not only as the decade came to a close, but in the TV landscape as well.  A number of beloved and new hit shows were experiencing drastic cast changes, from the majority of the cast of All in the Family taking a proverbial hike, to Kate Jackson and Radar (Gary Burghoff) leaving Charlie’s Angels and M*A*S*H respectively.  Mork & Mindy also saw the dismissal of the matronly but fun Elizabeth Kerr, as well as a diminishing role for Conrad Janis who played Mindy’s father in lieu of new cast members including Jay Thomas and Jim Staahl.  Heck even the Ropers left Three’s Company making way for Don Knott’s return to prime time as Mr. Farley.

       

On a side note, and I think I’ve mentioned this sort of advertising in the TV Guides before, but I am still surprised to see the Coke brand so prominently displayed in the above Bacardi rum ad.  I know rum & Cokes are pretty damn common, but it just goes to show how much more loose companies used to be with their image and branding. Also, it’s kind of awesome to see dueling tampon ads.  I guess feminine hygiene companies think alike with the same ideas when it comes to promoting just how well their products work.  Honestly, I have to agree that if it works for a gymnast, it’ll work for anyone… As for the slate of new shows in the ’79-’80 season, though there were only a few stand-outs that would go on to become TV classics, we were introduced to a ton of emerging actors and actresses that would graces our screens for years to come.   Right off the bat we have the show Working Stiffs which features the first big roles for both Jim Belushi and Michael Keaton.  Keaton had done some walk-on and guest star roles before, but this was his first starring role (as Mike O’Rourke, brother to Belushi’s Ernie.)   Belushi, though he hadn’t done a whole lot of broadcast TV yet was certainly an up-and-comer having done a stint at Second City and of course as the heir-apparent to his real-life brother’s insane comic styling.

         

Some other stars getting their initial breaks were a young Rob Lowe in what looks like a dra-medy (in the vein of 8 is Enough) called A New Kind of Family, Martin Short and Joe Regalbuto (of future Murphy Brown fame, though I’ll always know him for his role on Street Hawk) in the Associates (also starring Tim Thomerson who graduated to a ton of great B-movie work in the 80s), Mark Harmon (hot off his appearance in the ginormous mini-series Centennial) in the show 240-Robert, a young Lorenzo Lamas in California Fever, Kim Basinger & Don Johnson in early roles in the adaptation of From Here to Eternity, as well as Rosanna Arquette and Tracey “Growing Pains” Gold in Shirley (yet another widowed mother with a bunch of kids vehicle for Shirley Jones.)  Though none of these shows lasted more than 1 season, all of these actors and actresses would go on to become pretty big stars in either television or on the silver screen in the subsequent decade.   Just goes to show that everyone starts out at the bottom…

       

There were also a lot of other shows that featured some more established actors and actresses, though none of these lasted all that long either.  Brian Dennehy played single father and hotel detective Arnie Sutter in Big shamus, Little Shamus, James Earl Jones took on the titular role of detective captain Woody Paris as a part time criminology professor, part time sleuth in the show Paris, Robert Conrad put on his best James Bon impression for the spy thriller A Man Called Sloane, Claude Akins headed up the semi-successful Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, and Louis Gossett Jr. took on the Lazarus Syndrome.

       

There are a couple of shows that I never got a chance to watch and am really interested in.   One is the Mork & Mindy spin-off Out of the Blue starring James Brogan as an honest to goodness guardian angel to a family of five orphaned kids in Chicago.   I find it fascinating that the writers and producers decided to take an wacky science-fiction comedy and pair it with a wacky theological comedy.  The other sounds like it was scripted just for me, Struck By Lightning, which is a sitcom about the further adventures of the Frankenstein monster (played by the perfectly odd Jack Elam who I know mostly from the Cannonball Run film as the doctor you don’t want sticking you with anything, but he was also in Once Upon a Time in the West, at least for the opening credits) and the descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, science teacher Ted Stein.  Basically Stein inherits an Inn, and while inspecting the property he meets the caretaker Frank who claims to be the 229 year-old monster from Shelly’s novel.  Hilarity ensues, at least I assume as I couldn’t find any video on youtube to back this assumption up. I’m also glad to see an ad for an ancient 26″ Sony Trinitron television set.  It’s like seeing the grandfather of my current 27″ Trinitrin that I’ve had since I first moved out on my own 14 years ago. The Proud-As-a-Peacock NBC T-shirts are pretty neat as well, though honestly, who was rushing out to pick up an NBC T-shirt?  Granted, they’re only five bucks, but c’mon, these should have been free considering all the free promotion and all…

   

Similar to the insane plastic jogging suits of the 70s and 80s, we also have and ad for Slim-Sleepers, pajamas made out of the waterproof Tyvek material that basically makes you sweat while you sleep.  Now I’ve used Tyvek for years, not to lose weight mind you, but to ship out packages.  Pretty much most Fed-Ex and USPS “paks” are made of the material which is great for keeping paperwork safe and dry in transit, but seems just this side of insane to consider as sleepwear.  Besides, even if it does work, who wants to wake up in a pool of your own sweat! Not every new show was a bomb in ’79 as we got to see the start of a handful of successful series including Hart to Hart, Trapper John, M.D., Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the much more down-to-Earth spin-off of Soap, Benson.

Next time I dip into the collection I’ll have some highlights from the 1983 Fall Preview issue.

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The Essential TV Guide Fall Previews of the 80s, Part 3: 1977! Yeah, I know that makes no sense…



Well, I finally got around to throwing a banner together for these TV Guide posts.  Makes it seem more official I guess.  Anyway, I was planning on getting to the 1982 Fall Preview issue, but I received the ’77 and ’78 editions in the mail this week, so I think I’ll go ahead and get to them first.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I sort of have this odd Quantum Leap-centric idea about the time period I want to cover on this site (nostalgia and ephemera-wise that is.)  I like the idea of covering stuff that has taken place over my own lifetime, much in the way Sam could only leap (time travel for all those non-initiated Quantum Leapers out there) throughout the timeline of his own life.  Honestly, I think this was a coy way that the writers could keep the show relevant for the viewing audience’s experiences, straying away from the idea of leaping into medieval or prehistoric times for instance.  It provides a bit of grounding I guess.  Anyway, it worked well for that show, and I think it’ll do for me as well.

So with that in mind, I present the highlights from the 1977 TV Guide Fall Preview issue.  Again, the first thing I noticed about this issue (like the 1980 issue) is that the digest itself was folded and stapled instead of being perfect bound like a book.  This makes for very difficult scanning; well difficult while trying not to destroy the issue as well as trying to keep relevant pages together.

    

Also, as I’ve been noticing with these older issues of the Guide, most of the advertising is set aside for cigarettes and booze, but there are a few other odds and ends that are interesting.  I didn’t realize that there was a deluxe version of Kraft Mac & Cheese available in the 70s.  Mainly I subsisted on ramen during my college days, but every once in awhile as a treat I’d pick up the deluxe Mac & Cheese dinner (in particular the one with bacon bits included, you know to simulate eating something a little more substantial.)  At first glance I thought the plated dinner in the ad looked a little weird with the two strips of bacon and the paltry makings of a BLT on the side of the plate, but right now it actually sounds pretty good.  I do have to say that it throws off the illusion of a quick and easy dinner though; I mean if you’re going to fry up some bacon and slice a tomato, why not go ahead and cook?

I also dug the heck out of the Quaker Oats cookies ad.  First off I really love spot illustrations in ad work, especially when it’s quality like this (are those watercolors?)  But I also love it when the company mascot is front and center without just using the familiar iconographic image (like the Quaker man on the boxes in the coupon.)  It’s kind of interesting (and a little weird maybe) to see Quaker man fishing with some kid and his dog while enjoying a picnic of cookies and what I can only hope is milk in that thermos.  It’s kind of nice to think that Quaker man enjoys relaxing in his off time with hobbies like this, though I think in this modern world it’s a little creepy that he’s off alone with a strange kid.  Heck, maybe it’s his nephew or grandson, but then for continuity’s sake I’d like to see the kid in a Quaker outfit as well.  Also, who developed the crosshatching pattern for peanut butter cookies anyway?  My mom always stuck to this tradition when baking them for our family when I was younger.

The Toyota Celica ad is kind of cool too.  I like that the designers were trying to ape the look and feel of a Mustang with the liftback version of the Celica.  Making them feel a little more American I guess.  Did you realize that car is ‘hot’?  On the other hand we have what I believe to be one of the most annoying ads I’ve seen in a long time (barring TV and radio that is) for the Vivatar 603 pocket camera.  I get that the ad guys were trying to visually put a spin on the idea of other brands offering only ‘half a camera’ because the new Vivatar offers a build in flash, but because they cut the ad in half and shuffled with around like that on the page it’s just annoying to read.

    

As far as the previews go for 1977, there sure are some whoppers as well as some weird ones.  Above we have a preview for a show called Operation Petticoat (based on a movie of the same name) starring John Astin and Jamie Lee Curtis.  I think it’s kind of weird to have a sitcom set aboard the claustrophobic confines of a submarine (in particular with the main crux of the story surrounding the sexual tension of the crew vs. a bunch of military nurses that they are transporting.)  After doing a little research though it looks like this was truly a vehicle for John Astin as he directed the first few episodes as well as starred as the sub’s captain.  I’m not sure how well the show did though as it only lasted for a season and a half, not to mention that Astin and Curtis jumped ship after the first season.

’77 was a very nautical year as the Love Boat also launched from port.  Growing up there were two shows that it seemed like my sister never missed, Love Boat and Fantasy Island, so I caught my fare share of episodes while hanging out with her.  Looking back, the concept of the show was just marketing genius.  Having the majority of the stories surrounding the plethora of guest stars that came aboard each show is almost a way of having sweeps episodes year round.  I wish the studios weren’t being so stingy with the DVDs that finally came out this year though (only releasing half a season of a 31 year-old show and charging full season rates is absolutely piratanical I tells ya.)

The TV set in the ad adjacent to the Love Boat preview looks a hell of a lot like the TV my family had until I turned sixteen.  Same faux-wood box, and channel tuners.  I wonder if TVs are being built that can last 16 years like these old monsters did?  I doubt it.

I absolutely love the Camel ad in this issue.  It screams action, adventure, and maybe a little James Bond, though only if an actor that looked like a cross between Tom Selleck and Patrick Duffy played Bond.  I’m as interested as that bikini-clad assistant and the bearded seaman in what Camel man has found in the depths of the sea!  I am seriously considering picking up smoking now…

With these older TV guides I’ve certainly hit the Saturday Morning cartoon ad jackpot as all three major networks make a showing.  Above we have the line-ups for NBC and CBS including shows like The Adventures of Muhammad Ali, the New Archies and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Space Academy.  I really dig the illustration done for the Space Academy show as it makes it seem ten thousand times more thrilling and action packed than the actual Filmation show was.  It is kind of odd that the CBS ad is a truncated version of the ad they ran in comic books at the time (which you can see here in this post I did awhile back), and it really shows in how poorly it was translated to the digest size format of the TV Guide.  It’s also sort of weird because the times the shows are listed to air are different.  It raises a question about whether comic book printings used to feature regional ads or if this was just a mistake.  I can see the line-ups jumbling around from city to city, so the different TV Guides might have slightly different ads, but I always figured comic books were distributed country wide with the same ads.  Anyone out there know?

    

Rounding out the cartoon ads is this beauty from ABC featuring one of my all time favorite shows, the Hanna Barbera Laff-A-Lympics.  I never seemed to catch this show at home when it aired in re-runs, but I swear, every single time my family was out of town or on the road it seemed like the only cartoon that I’d find on TV in the various motels we’d stay at.  It brings back a lot of fond memories of waking up to the show, and then off to the complimentary Ho-Jo’s continental breakfast.  I could so go for some plain scrambled eggs, bacon, and corn flakes while watching Blue Falcon and Dynomutt face off against Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw in a battle of river rafting right about now.  Also, I totally missed out on everything Kroft while growing up and I am dying to see the adventures of Bigfoot and Wildboy…

One of the best parts in picking up these old TV Guides is getting a feel for what a week in the life of a 1977 TV viewer was like.  I get a little of this watching shows like Freaks and Geeks (hearing Sam, Bill, and Eli pontificate on catching the latest Three’s Company, Welcome Back Kotter, and Bionic Woman episodes), but it’s really neat to see it for myself in an artifact like this.  Again, I put out a plea to studios everywhere, get over your stupid money grubbing rights issues and put some of these shows out on DVD!  I need to see Jamie Sommers and her bionic dog fight crime.  At least they finally started releasing decent sets of shows like Welcome Back Kotter (instead of the pointless 4-episode best of discs.)  The following page is just as exciting as the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew face off against Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein, while later on in the evening the Bionic Man is captured by Killer Sharks!  You never see stuff like this anymore.  When was the last time Meredith was captured by sharks on Grey’s Anatomy?  When was the last time a bionic dog was introduced into a show’s cast?  Makes me miss shows like Buffy as it was about the closest we got to stuff like this…

There was also an ad for an odd show called Lucan about a boy raised by wolves.  At first blush I figured this was a werewolf show, but I think it’s more of a raised by animals deal.  I guess they should have thought twice before using the dripping blood font which just confused and unnecessarily excited me.


    

I thought it was interesting that the editors at TV Guide were keen on getting feedback from viewers in the premiere of CHiPs, going so far as to provide a little mail in coupon.  I wonder why this show and not all of them?  Were they being paid by NBC to facilitate it?  Well if I could have at the time, I so would have written "Heck Yeah!" on the back and sent it in.  I talked about my love for this show when I shared my set of CHiPs sticker cards a while back.  I can’t wait to pick up the second season

I was surprised to see an ad for the network premiere of the Making of Star Wars so soon after it hit theaters.  I’d have to say that for once, a crazy claim on an ad has actually stood the test of time as well.  I’d be willing to wager that Star Wars still holds the title as the most popular movie of all time.  I also thought it was cool to see an ad for the season opener of Wonder Woman which boasts the jump in time from the 40s to a modern setting.  I watched my fare share of this show in re-runs growing up and it never dawned on me that it was originally set during WWII.  Shows how on-the-ball I was as a kid.  Oh and lets all make sure not to miss the Muppet show (I really liked that the original owner of this issue circled all the shows they wanted to make sure not to miss.)

Much like my infatuation with the Rodeo Girl TV movie from the last post I made, I am now equally as intrigued by the disturbing ad for Curse of the Black Widow.  I am so speechless.  A spider-woman with huge boobs and creepy human appendages!  Wow!  I bet it has nothing to do with gigantic female spiders, but if it does, please somebody get me a copy of this film…

There’s also another, much better though just as small, ad for Sha-Na-Na in this issue.  Again, what was the draw of 50s nostalgia during the 70s and 80s?  I guess it’s no different than my current 80s obsession.  Also, on the facing page, what’s up with that weirdly sincere cigarette ad that’s playing off of a cover of the Saturday Evening Post?

    

There were a lot of cool shows starting up in 1977, but the one I’ve probably watched the most of over the years is Soap.  My mom introduced me to this sitcom when we’d both stay up late on the weekends during the late 80s and 90s watching Soap in syndication.  I was hooked on all of the spoofy storylines and loved seeing all the actors who I knew from their later work in this earlier hilarious show.  I’m pretty sure I even watched its spin-off, Benson, before I realized that this show existed.

 

Last but not least we have a couple of previews for some more sci-fi oriented shows that debuted in ’77, The Man From Atlantis and the TV version of Logan’s Run.  Though I doubt it’s as cool as I’m making it out in my head, I would really like to see TMFA as I’ve always been curious about the idea of a live action version of either Namor or Aquaman (though I’m completely un-interested in the pilot to the show that they tried to pawn off on us last year.)  Before Dallas and Step By Step, Patrick Duffy sported webbed hands and feet in four TV movies and finally this show, battling mad scientists and criminals.  Who’d of thunk it.  Also, on a totally unrelated note, I just realized that all of the preview pictures in this issue have a spotlight shining on the stars.  Nice design touch TV Guide…

Next week I’ll be back, most assuredly with the ’78 issue of the TV Guide Fall Preview…

Essential DC Hostess Ads Vol. 2, Part 2: Cupcakes 1975-1980

So for the time being this post will finish off my collection of Hostess comic ads. Like I’ve mentioned before, I think there are still about 30 or 40 more ads that I haven’t been able to find yet, so that’ll probably be a project I work on over this coming year.  Right now though, lets take a look at the last 10 DC ads in what I like to call the Essential DC Hostess comic ads Vol. 3, Part 2: Cupcakes 1975-1980.

Shazam in the Cupcake Caper 1975

Wow, that is one straightforward Hostess ad.  Bam, cupcakes are missing.  Bam, Shazam restates the obvious.  Bam, he stops the brilliant Cupcake Caper. Bam.  BAM BAM BAM.  If nothing else, I’m beginning to find some possible context clues for why the last Shazam ad was written so (to me) oddly.  So does young Billy Batson work at the TV station?  If so that would go a long way to explaining why he was kidnapped in that ad.

Superman Saves the Earth 1976

Man I never realized that Superman sat in on such universe plotting council meetings.  Thank god he eats cupcakes and not Spam or the whole planet might have gone up in a puff of smoke that fateful day.  Also, I love how in comics alien worlds are often delineated by the lack of any sort of atmosphere, having only a vast blanket of stars in the sky.  As silly as it seems, it really is a nice artistic short cut.

Batman in the Muse 1977

Besides the fact that Batman and Robin are stepping out attending a concert in full bat-suit glory, I really dig this ad. In particular I love the switch that the Muse makes from internal monologue to exclaiming his love for Hostess cupcakes mid thought. I wonder when in ’77 this ad was written as there’s a nod to Elvis in it. Not a good year for the king.

Batman and Robin in Birds of a Feather 1977

You know, I would have loved to see this ad end with Batman and Robin watching as Pigeon Person’s plan crumbled when she realized that even an army of pigeons can’t pick up a mountain…

Batman in Sable Lady 1977

“That’s giving it to her on the old chinchilla…” Um, okay.  Holy inappropriate Batman!

Wonder Woman in the Maltese Cupcake 1977

I have absolutely no idea what just happened in that comic. Seriously.

Superman in the Big Fall 1978

Wow, that was total overkill Clark! You know, you could have just stopped the elevator from falling and gently let it come to rest at the bottom of the elevator shaft. There was no call in flying it out of a building, and in assuming that it would burst through the roof without hurting the occupants who were so blissfully unaware of the danger because they had their mouths full of chocolate-y goodness. Sheesh, that seems more in line for a Hulk Hostess ad…

Wonder Woman vs. the Cheetah 1978

Well that was kind of a mean trick to play on the cats. Lure your way in and then slap them around instead of the master. I guess it was bad form to have a cheesecake cat-fight in a 70s cupcake ad.

Batman in Someone is Kidnapping the Great Chefs of Gotham City 1979

…and this is why America doesn’t give in to terrorist’s ransom demands. I wonder if the networks would ever stoop to this level of advertising on TV. I’d love to see a series of 24 one-minute Hostess ads starring Jack Bauer. In the last minute it would be revealed that Twinkie the kid wasn’t a terrorist, he was honestly trying to transport three tons of Hostess products overseas in hopes of balancing the world economy or something. I’m going to get cracking on writing those so that I can pitch them if the writer’s strike continues. I’ll make a mint.

Wonder Woman and the Barron 1980

Wouldn’t this ad have been that much cooler if instead of a generic chocolate vampire wannabe called the Baron, Count Chocula was the villain? Man, new idea, advertisement crossovers, like the Secret Wars, but with cartoon advertising icons. Again, another idea that’ll make me rich…

Essential DC Hostess Ads Vol. 1, Part 2: Twinkies 1975-1979

I’m back with my second to last round of Hostess comic book ads from the 70s and 80s. I know that there are about 50 or so more ads than what I’ve been able to locate in my collection of ads, so sometime this year I think I’m going to have to do some serious $0.25 bin diving to find the rest. I thought I’d share my last round of DC comics Twinkie ads today…

Batman and the Mummy 1975

Well, I’ve actually been waiting for a while to get to this one. I believe this is one of the first (if not the first) Hostess comic ads back in ’75, and right from the get go these ads didn’t make much sense. Granted, this comic is relatively straight forward, but there are some crazy wow moments like when Robin pulled the Mummy Ray-Gun out from nowhere. Now what is the point of a mummy ray gun if it doesn’t have an effect on mummies? I suppose Bruce was just humoring Dick when he gave him that last Christmas. Anyway, this ad also features a little bit of a history lesson thanks to Robin’s exclamation of surprise in the first panel. Turns out (and I certainly had to look this up) that Cheops was a 26th century B.C. king of Egypt and builder of the pyramids. Nifty. The only other thing I’d like to point out (besides the Daring Duo’s amazing bolder moving strength) is that in this ad the Twinkie filling is referred to as ‘creamy’ instead of creamed. I wonder if there was a creamy vs. creamed lawsuit at some point?

Shazam fights the Minerva Menace 1975

I’m not all that familiar with Shazam, but he sure does seem to have a way with words. All he has to do to unravel all of that dastardly brainwashing is to tell those kids what’s what with a pointing finger for emphasis. I love the non sequitur plot point of the kidnapping of Billy Batson. I guess this is where my ignorance of Shazam really sets in. Is the whole Shazam thing secret? I’d assume no one (except maybe a dog or an uncle or butler) would know that Billy could turn into Shazam…

Aquaman Twinkies and Kelp 1976

Ha, he said Kelp twice. Seriously, sometimes I really wonder about the prowess of Aquaman. Again, I didn’t grow up on DC comics, but from what I’m gathering in these ads, and from his stand-alone cartoon, the guy is mostly harmless. He never seems to do any of the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting villains (he usually gets the creatures of the sea to do it for him), and in strips like this the writers make him out to be a sort of over reacting blowhard…

Batman Twinkieless Gotham City 1976

Man, the Penguin sure gave up that Twinkienapping caper pretty darn easily. I guess a little whining from a leisure-suited henchman can go a long way…

Wonder Woman Kookie La Moo on Broadway 1977

You know, I don’t know if I’d classify a 60 ft. tall blonde bombshell as grotesque. I thought it was kind of funny that the ad wasn’t copy edited as Steve Trevor is referred to by Giant Cooky as Steve Howard.

Green Lantern in Half the People Here 1977

Thank goodness Hal Jordan still had the ring on the right half of his body. Whew. I actually really like this ad, even for it’s zany half-witted plot.

Aquaman in That Dirty Beach 1977

Um, on the one hand I’m really glad to see Aquaman step up and sok a bad guy in the mouth once in awhile, but on the other I’m kind of lost in the horrible message of this ad. So let me get this straight, the answer to stop all the pollution humans are causing is to take a bribe of Twinkies? Right.

Superman in an Unbeatable Power 1978

Well now that wasn’t a great plan by Big Dome if it required him to keep his hands on the controls the whole time he had Superman trapped. It’s kind of hard to take over a planet when you’ve got to baby sit a powerless Superman. Sigh, I miss the Captain America Hostess ads, there was a lot more punching.

Aquaman and the Imperiled Sub 1978

Granted, I know it’s hard to get it across in a one-page strip, but that is one of the sorriest looking tidal waves ever. I think I’ve come across larger waves in the bathtub. Sigh, again, not one of the more exciting Aquaman strips.

Wonder Woman in Dilemma 1978

Superman in the Rescue 1979

I don’t have much to say for these last two though I love it in the last Superman strip where the writer thought it was pertinent to show the kids on the mountain watching the disaster unfold even though in the previous panel it was pointed out that the UFO and Superman were traveling at the speed of light. Those are some darn observant children.

Essential Marvel Hostess Ads Vol. 3, Part 2: Twinkies 1979-1981

Wow, I really have been lax around here for the past two months.  I’ll tell ya, the holidays really suck all my drive and energy, even when I’m not doing all that much. Anyway, it’s a new year, blah blah, and really want to get back to a more regular posting schedule, so I thought I’d dip back into the well a little and throw up some more Hostess comic book ads.  I have a handful of ads left (I don’t have a complete collection, but I do have another 25 or so left to get to) that I’m going to make my way through over the next week or so and then hopefully I’ll build up another modest head of steam to get me going on a more regular posting schedule.  I certainly have a backlog of stuff that I’d like to share, including getting back to the Galaxy High Cartoon Commentaries, getting started on the second year of the Peel Here column, as well as getting to some other material that I’ve been accumulating over the last year.

So with that said, lets dive back into the weird world of Hostess Comic ads with the last crop of Marvel ads from my collection.  These are all Twinkie-centric and span the years 1979-1981.

Spiderman meets June Jitsui 1979

I have a feeling that some days the writers at the Marvel Bullpen came into work and just didn’t have anything to contribute Hostess-gag-wise.  This is about as cut and dry as you get, villain intro, kick, kick, toss-a-Twinkie, gloat, and villain foiled.  I have to admit that I’m glad to see Spidey carrying a sack full of Twinkies instead of him producing them from some hidden spot on his suit, though I’m deducting creativity points since the sack isn’t made out of his webbing.

Spiderman in Hotshot on the Block 1979

All right this is a little more like it.  Granted, it’s about as thrill packed as the last strip, but at least there are a bunch of bad puns thrown about.  It’s kind of weird to hear Peter refer to himself not only as a swinger, but as a cookie too.  Well it was the 70s.  As far as dashing Hot Shot’s plan by burdening him with a package of Twinkies, well all I have to say is that I hope Mr. Hot Pants learned his lesson and in the future he’ll know that it’s perfectly fine villain etiquette to stuff the entire Twinkie package in one’s mouth, chewing it up, and pulling the plastic wrapper out later, so that you still pitch some fireballs at an silly hero that thought Twinkies could stop you from taking over the world.  I need to write a villain handbook or something…

Captain Marvel Defends the Earth 1980

Wow, I believe this ad wins the title of The Weirdest Cold War Strategy Metaphor Ever. Damnit, let those Kree bastards eat cake!

The Human Torch in a Hot Time in the Old Town 1980

This ad made me chuckle because for once the hero delivered on his pun-y plan. Johnny really does just use the Twinkies as a diversion as he ends up burning down Flame Thrower’s laboratory. Of course, I’m not sure exactly how burning down the lab stopped him considering he was just burning down the city in general, but I’ll let it slide. I guess I’m just extra glad it wasn’t a hollow pun.

Mr. Fantastic in the Power of Gold 1980

Wow, the writers of these ads really should have avoided trying to explain these strips with science. As golden as a Twinkie might appear, it’s just not gold. On the other hand, I’m so glad the there was a little social commentary thrown in with the crack about heroes not being able to afford gold in the 70s. I find it funny that Richards found it necessary to stockpile gold back in his heyday of hero-ing though; it really gives him a very Hugh Hefner-like quality. I wonder if he had a super stretchy velvety bath robe that he’d wear while counting his gold?

Spiderman in the Rescue 1980

Is it just me or does the pacing of this strip make it seem like that kid screwed up Spidey’s plan to stop those kidnappers with some sweet Twinkie action?

Spiderman in the Trap 1980

Holy crap, that is some Twinie throwing magic Peter just performed. I mean, if he couldn’t get out of that net, how in the hell did he manage to throw a package of Twinkies through it? I’m starting to think that he’s acting like a chump on purpose just so he can grease the squeaky wheels of injustice with creamed filling. What a sellout.

Captain Marvel in Flea Bargaining 1981

Flea Bargaining is one of those Hostess strips that almost defies description. It’s certainly makes me think that the writer really didn’t want to work on Hostess scripts anymore. This is also a great example of how weird it can be to merge established fictional characters with advertising campaigns. There’s no reason Captain Marvel shouldn’t just blast the giant flea into space or something, but I’d be willing to bet that there was a stipulation of not using violence in the strips (not to mention the idea of working in Hostess products to foil the exploits of the various evildoers.) I think my favorite part of this strip is in the second panel where an angry shop keep is more concerned with turning a profit (or at least getting in a little bargaining time) than helping to stop the giant flea market eating flea. It’s so out of place, yet it really helps to ham up the crazy flea market jokes. Weird.

The Human Torch in Hot Tempered Triumph! 1981

You know, stealing cold hard cash from orphans is one thing, but stealing their Twinkies, well that’s just plain evil. Evil I tells ya.

Iron Man in the Charge of the Rhinos! 1981

I wonder why the scribe of this comic was pushing Fission so hard? And why giant Rhinos? Granted rhinos are pretty tough, but it still seems like an engineering nightmare to have created them.

Essential Marvel Hostess Ads Vol. 3, Part 1: Twinkies 1975-1979

Well, I was a lazy bum last night and I didn’t fix up the screen shots from episode six of the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, so instead of another installment of Cartoon Commentary!, I’ll be throwing up another Essential Hostess Ads post. C’est la vie. This week it’ll be the Essential Marvel Hostess Ads Vol. 3, Part 1: Twinkies.

Spiderman and the Kidnap Caper 1975

Wow, this Spiderman ad from 1975 almost comes off pretty normal. I mean there must be at least two dozen sitcoms with this exact same plot; loved one kidnapped, hero must scramble together money but can’t find enough, substitutes snack of choice (or stacks of copy paper, phone books, etc.) in briefcase to distract the kidnapper. Classic sitcom. Or bad movie. One of the two. Also, for once the villains seem kind of conflicted about the whole thing, which is a nice change of pace (even though this is one of the first Marvel Hostess ads.)

Iron Man in City Crisis 1976

Now that I’m really thinking about it, I believe that if there are going to be any Hostess Comic Book ads that stand the test of time it will undoubtedly be the nutty schizo ones. Like Thor vs. The Ding a Ling Family, Spiderman in Legal Eagle, Penguin in the Cuckoo Cuckoos, or Batman in the Whole World is Upside Down, Iron Man in City Crisis is perfectly insane, as insane in fact as heroes fighting crime with pastries (even if those pastries have no recognizable expiration date.) Kwirkegard is the perfect Hostess Villain, with an awesome plan; I mean who else but good ‘ol Kwirkegard would think to existentially poison New York’s drinking water with sadness? That’s brilliant! The author of this comic gets an extra five points in my book for using the word existential, as well as making a loose reference to the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, in…a…freaking…Hostess Twinkie ad no less.

I also love how secondary the Twinkies are; they’re included less to foil Kwirkegard’s plot than to help the children of the city bring back hope and happiness to everyone through their laughter, their sticky, gummed up with half chewed Twinkie laughter, which we all know is the best medicine. Why can’t all the Hostess ads be like this?

Spiderman and Madam Web 1977

I have to admit that this ad is pretty fun too, though not as crazy as the last one. I love the disheartened Peter pepping it up with smarminess just long enough to use make Madam Web do his job for him (even though she did create the whole mess.) Hell, I think if I were Peter, I’d of given her the Twinkies and sent her off to 3rd world countries to do all of the cleaning up she eluded to. Damn, he could have introduced the work to a new Mother Teresa, a saint that can spin a mean web, and if you’ve got a Twinkie or two and about fifteen minutes, I’m sure there’s a lot more she’d do for you as well.

Spiderman in the Spiderman and the Fly 1977

This comic, though pointlessly wordy and well pointless, is tops in my book for introducing me to the phrase, “I dispense justice, sometimes tempered with Twinkies!” By the way, did the writer just copy and paste the Hostess references into this ad, ’cause he sure does make ‘Twinkie’ plural in odd places. I think I might have to start referring to my single Twinkies, as Twinkies regardless. At least it’ll be funny to me.

Iron Man in an Irresistible Force 1978

It’s pretty sad when a car outfitted with a sheet of metal on the front is an even match for Iron Man. Maybe that’s why he started drinking…

Captain America and the Time Warp 1978

Okay, what did I lean from this comic, hmmm? Well, for starters that the writer is utterly bewildered by the concept of time travel. Do you really think that Caesar would think our future world was populated by ‘creatures’? If he did would he bother eating whatever was left in all those picnic baskets? Actually now that I’m on that, why were there so many people in the park with baskets full of Twinkies? I mean, that’s a little weird right? It’s funny how pushy Fury can get when he’s got a bunch of Romans in the park eating Twinkies, I mean he could have asked Cap a little nicer. I wonder what was shared, “much discussion” wise between Cap and Caesar? I wonder if Cap tried to make him beware the ides of March?

Spiderman Puts Himself in the Picture 1978

Okay, I apologize in advance for this, but this ad is screaming for some ass jokes. Well, two ass jokes. Okay, first ass joke (well more of an ass question really): Why did Photoman reach into Peter’s pants, and when he did, why did he pull out what must have been a seriously warm and squished pack of ass Twinkies? Sigh. Okay, ass reference number the second: When Peter squirts his webbing at Photoman and says, “Here’s web in your eye…”, is he referring to Photoman’s brown eye? ‘Cause that webbing is no where near his eyes. What an ass-er-iffic Hostess ad.

Thor meets a Glutton for Gold 1978

If it’s better to enjoy the golden goodness of Hostess Twinkies snack cakes than storing up gold that does naught but gather dust, why did they even care that the actual gold was gone? Greedy bastards. Hey, I thought the trademarked heroes weren’t supposed to be seen eating the damn Twinkies?

Captain Marvel vs. Professor Sneer 1979

Oh man, that ad is just boring. Boring and sad really. I mean, what kind of a hero is Captain Marvel if he needs to basically beg a villain to eat his tasty Twinkie in order to stop his dastardly villainy. Sad, sad, sad. And Boring.

Mr. Fantastic in a Passion for Gold 1979

Is it just me or did Reed reach across the city and steal a pack of Twinkies to distract that villain? Man, there’s not much to this ad either. I miss Kwirkegard. Now he would have posed a much more interesting problem to Mr. Richards, like he would have devised a ray that could distract every one in the city by making them all of a sudden hear a tree falling in a forest they couldn’t see. Then he’d steal all the Twinkies and impregnate all the city’s women with sadness and dispair. Or something more interesting than becoming selectively intangible, only then to be defeated by a pack of Twinkies that, for some reason, caused him to lose his selective intangibility. Pshaw.

Essential Marvel Hostess Ads Vol. 2, Part 1: Fruit Pies 1975-1979

Well, it’s time to dip back into the world of Hostess ads, this time we’ll be taking a look at some Marvel fruit pie ads from 1975-1979.

Spiderman in The Trap 1975

You know, I don’t want Peter to think I’m losing faith in him or anything, but Phil Spector and his crew seemed to capture him easily enough the first time with their patented Super-Steel Spider-Net. I think he’s being a little over confident. In fact, move over Doc Ock, I believe Spiderman has a new arch-nemesis in town.

The Incredible Hulk and the Green Thumb 1977

I think this takes the crown for the most pointless Hostess ad ever. I mean first “Hulk want sit near shady tree with lady”, then he’s all, “Screw you lady and your stupid plant people, ARGHHHHH!!!” The fruit pies are so tertiary to the ad it’s almost not funny. In the end I like to think this is really an ad starring the mighty Green Giant and he’s punishing the vegie people for cannibalizing their fruity brethren. Green Giant SMASH!

Thor in the Ding-A-Ling Family 1977

Oh man. Who’d of thunk that a fruit pie ad starring Thor and a bunch of inbreed hillbillies could be so damn wordy? By the By, I do believe hilarity ensues when you get two sets of folks together and each has a sho’ nuff funny way of gabbing on. I think I might need a secret Hostess Hillbilly Decoder ring to understand what exactly in going on here. Okay, so like Hillbillies in space (or what ever that area is on the rainbow bridge between Earth and Valhalla) is pretty cool, but when there are wonder powered twin cousins, who are strong enough in their redneck love connection to take down Thor (not to mention a smack on the noggin from Mjolnir), it just becomes so over the top cool that it starts back over at boring again. Okay, maybe it was all the words that made it boring, I mean these are Marvel Hostess ads which by definition should have at least 60% more action than the DC ads. Where was I? Oh yeah, wandering hands is like kryptonite for hillbilly twin cousins. I’ll have to remember that on my next trip to Hazzard county…

Captain Marvel meets the Dreadnought 1978

I don’t remember seeing a villain dispatched so quickly in a Fruit Pie ad before. Captain Marvel is apparently the man, no nonsense, screw the fruit pies, it’s men’s destiny that he’s concentrating on.

Spiderman meets the Home Wrecker 1978

What an odd villain. It isn’t everyday that we meet a guy whose purpose as a villain is nothing any more grand than destroying buildings for destruction’s sake. No master plan for world domination, no money-making scheme, just plain old wrecking ball on concrete action for him. This is actually oddly refreshing.

Thor in Good Overcomes Evil 1978

I’d be pissed too if my magically charmed super warrior was freed of my evil grasp by a few fruit pies. Curses indeed! By the way, is this a Jack Kirby Hostess ad, or just a look-a-like artist?

The Incredible Hulk and the Ultimate Weapon 1979

I really wanted to see Hulk grab one of the fleeing humans and throw them at the Ultimate Weapon (or ordinary tank if you prefer.) So, um, where did the uber huge bag of fruit pies come from? I’m assuming Hulk fruit pie ads are hard to write or something.

The Human Torch in the Icemaster Cometh 1979

Seriously Johnny, I think the Icemaster was making a pass at you. Once again, much like in his cupcake ad, the Human Torch doesn’t seem all that concerned with actually capturing the villain. Maybe they hook up off panel or something. He’s such a player.

Iron Man in the Hungry Battleaxe 1979

So, uh, was Battleaxe going to eat the uranium? Honestly, I do think that’s an awesome set of adjectives for a good villain, Big, Mean, and Hungry. Take a gander at the cop’s dialogue though, the dude was paid off by the board of overweight pastry company owners to slip in a nasty bit of not having to be hungry to eat. See, it’s comic ads faults that I struggled with childhood obesity!!!

Iron Man in Brains Over Brawn! 1979

Dude Tony, way to go yelling out your secret identity there! Next time, thought bubble it why don’t ya. So why does every crack pot in the marvel comics universe think they can take over the movie with one weird looking tank? I guess they spend their childhood reading up on Rommel and developing a time portal device that only showed future movies, and even then on the C. Thomas Howell flick Tank. That’s got to be it.

The Thing and the Ultimate Weapon 1979

First off, robots only like Twinkies. Second, I wonder who took the time to gather all the scrap parts from that Hulk ad and rebuild the Ultimate Weapon into this fruit pie swilling, cape-less, Doctor Doom wannbe? Third, how in the hell did those two cloaked dudes manage to get the Thing in such a tight spot? Oh Ben, just give them a damn fruit pie already. Oh wait, considering how he reacted in the whole cupcake caper, I guess I have to assume that Mr. Grimm only gives Hostess stuff to friends and not enemies. Stingy bastard.

Essential Marvel Hostess Ads Vol. 1, Cupcakes 1976-1981

Well, it’s that time again, time to jump back into the wonderful world of Hostess comic book ads for some much needed advice on how to defeat both evil and our insatiable hunger with snack cakes so tasty that Batman refuses to eat them (for if he did, you know he’d spoil his bat-dinner and Alfred would have to scold him something awful.) Today though I’m going to switch gears a bit and take my first look at how the Merry Marvel Marching Society deals with the incredible power of moist chocolaty cake, topped with fudgy icing, and its real creamed filling. Without further to do I present the Essential Marvel Hostess Ads Vol. 1, Cupcakes 1976-1981.

Spiderman in The Champ 1976

So after reading my firs Marvel Hostess ad all I can really say is, holy crap that was action packed! Well compared to their DC brethren, which tend to roll between lazy to just plain weird. Every single panel in this ad has a beat of action; knife impact, the bell ringing the start of the fight, a real whammy of a punch, a cupcake in the mouth, and explosion on the mat, and faces stuffed with snack cakes. ACTION. I guess this is why I was a Marvel kid growing up, even their advertisements were action packed. On weird note, what nationality does the surname Moomjay fit into?

Captain America in Sore Sir’s Appetencies 1977

“…and that and that and that and that…” This Cap ad from 1977 is sort of a beast with two natures. At the beginning it’s all bif, bam, pow, and then it completely crumbles with Cap’s cupcake cunning. Did I mention that the alliteration was out of hand in this ad? I love the extensive back story as well, though I think the Sorcerer’s Apprentice reference was muddled to a point of, well, pointlessness.

Spiderman in Legal Eagle 1977

I Object to this ad! Actually, that’s not true, and my fake true nature is shinning through because I love this ad. Holy crap, I didn’t think there would ever be a more convoluted Hostess ad than the World’s Upside Down one, but this one is right up there. I’m not sure if the writer intended for the “legal speak” to be quite as confusing as it actually came out. But before I can deconstruct that, I have to mention that this has to be the worst rip-off of an already existing character yet. The Legal Eagle? Really? Was the writer so desperate to use the Vulture that he had to stoop to this level? Things I absolutely love about this ad: LE’s manical mid-sentence laughter in panel 2, Today I’m on it, Tomorrow I’ll be in it (just sounds dirty), “…trapped by your own false true nature…” What does that last line mean?

Spiderman in Spoils a Snatch 1977

I swear, the word snatch is so ruined on me. Anyway, this is way more in line with the DC versions of these ads as total insanity replaces any semblance of natural plotting. You know, it’s kind of disconcerting to hear Peter thinking in the third person. Maybe eating too many Hostess cupcakes can do that to you, leaving you with a brain that functions just above the level of the Hulk’s. Also, way to go on winning MJ’s heart and trust by excusing your “ditching her” with stories of a crazy cupcake craving.

The Incredible Hulk Changes his Mind 1978

Speaking of the Hulk, here’s a weird ad from 1978 where the big green gut gets to exhibit his penchant for punching and karate chopping trees. I hear it’s great for anger management, and oft times you’ll be rewarded with falling kids and Hostess cupcakes to drive those evil puny humans away. Hey, I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but if you throw a bunch of cupcakes to some guys you want to stay away from you, won’t this have the opposite effect? Oh crap, now I think the hulk is gonna get pissed at me because I dissed his little friend’s brilliant plan…

The Human Torch in Blown About 1980

So, um, are they like, going to do it? I mean, Johnny didn’t mention prison or anything. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Oh, and last I head fire lives on oxygen, so like, that’s just a silly plot point.

Spiderman’s Dream Girl 1981

Remind me to refer to my wife from now on by her first and last names. Seriously, who is writing the dialogue for Peter in these ads? Witty my ass. Also, what was the aim of that gang of thugs? Like I mean, were they going to like take Lisa Skye out for coffee and a movie, or where they going to like, gang rape her? This is just sort of an odd and somewhat inappropriate version of the bully kicking sand in the nerd’s face I guess. Man, in the 80s whole gangs of bullies stole your girl I guess.

Spiderman vs. the Human Computer 1981

Jesus, just stop saying “chip” already, and way to go mixing your metaphors to an insane degree. This ad lost me when Spidey repeated the plot set up narration in the first panel.

The Thing in A Lesson to be Learned 1981

I’m walking away from this ad with the firm belief that something evil is about to happen to that mugger. Look in the background of that last panel. Thing is giving that guy the “Hey, welcome to prison, and I’m so glad YOU’RE going to be my bunk-mate” look. It’s clobbering time indeed.

Well don’t you know that there are plenty more of these Marvel Hostess ads on the way? We’ve still got plenty of Fruit Pie and Twinkie puns to wade through, so until then, Make Mike Marvel!

Essential DC Hostess Ads Vol. 3, Part 2: Fruit Pies 1979-1981

So here we are again with another installment of the Essential Hostess Ads, Vol. 3 part 2 1979-1981. I hope to start work on compiling enough of the Marvel versions of these ads to put together some Essentials of those as well.

Wonder Woman Saves the Astronauts 1979

You know I don’t want to continue ragging on all of these Hostess ads, but c’mon man, a trail of fruit pies is the solution to this space dust problem? If they can’t see out of their windows to see a giant blue planet, how they hell are they going to see those fruit pies? Wonder Woman would have been better off flying up to the shuttle and wiping the windows with one of the damn tasty pastries!

Green Arrow An Arrow in Time 1979

Oh my god. The first speech bubble in this ad is the definition of obvious. It’s the equivalent of witnessing someone get shot and saying, “Look, that guy got shot, no wonder he’s howling in pain with a big bloody hole clear through his hip!” Come on Green Arrow, I thought you were snarkier than that. You know, now that I’m thinking about it, it’s probably not a bright idea to be slinging fruit pies on arrows towards a bunch of kids. I can just see little Suzie, who didn’t make it out of the tram because there’s an arrow through her head with a fruit pie on it.

Flash The Stony-Eyed Medusa 1979

Okay, here’s the problem with super heroes in a nutshell, if you don’t strip the villain of their powers somehow, how do you expect to keep them captive? I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen villains like the Rhino or the Scorpion (Spider-Man comics) in some sort of holding cell, completely suited up but in manacles or something. Dude, strip them down so they can’t break out. If you arrest Mr. Freeze, destroy his freeze gun; don’t store it in a box next to the manacled Mr. Freeze. I’m not clear as to how tying up Medusa will keep her from proceeding to stare that parade into stone after she’s done eating that tasty pastry. Lazy, pure and simple.

Superman in the Ionic Storm 1979

Man, the entire strip here is such a MacGuffin. I mean, Supes didn’t use the fruit pies for crap. In fact, this is the perfect example of the no eating Hostess products clause DC had in their contract. “Screw you and your Hostess fruit pies, I’ve got shit to do. In fact, let me fly around Planetoid RM a few times to turn back time so that I can watch that ionic meteor shower tear your dumb picnic to shreds.”

Aquaman and the Space Capsule 1980

Once again, Aquaman proves that he’s about as useful as an anus right here (pointing to my elbow.) Why is his first thought kidnapping the capsule? Why not help it get to the surface of the water? And why in the hell are those astronauts so dumb that they thought that after coming down on Earth, into the sea no less as protocol would dictate, that they would be confronting aliens? As for the payoff to the whole strip, I’m sorry Aquaman, but didn’t you read the Superman strip about the family picnicking on Planetoid RM? Didn’t you see them eating their tasty fruit pies at the end? Hostess doesn’t in fact equal Earth, it equals bad storytelling.

Batgirl Fruit Pies For Magpies 1981

Sigh. So where exactly did these girls think they were going to stash their pick-pocketed loot? These chicks are about as brilliant as that group that wanted to steal the city’s oil supply. Hey maybe they’re the same super intelligent theft outfit. Also, is it just me, or is this like one of the most sexist Hostess ads ever?

Penguin in Penguins on Parade 1981

First off, this strip was doing pretty well up until the end. Straight forward with a slightly silly bent to it. Then the gag had to be emperor penguins and an emperor sword. You know, I believe the Penguin’s gag is that he involves ornithological elements in his crimes, not regal ones. I love that the writer (like the writer of this Batman Hostess ad) broke convention and has the Penguin munching on that flaky, tasty pastry. I hope it’s the same dude, some young buck of a writer thumbing his nose at the bureaucratic ad department establishment at DC. “Ha ha, you bourgeois panty waists, I’ll have the whole DCU eating fruit pies before I’m done!”

Superman in the Laughing Gas Bandits 1981

Okay I’m lost here. Didn’t the crooks cover themselves with the whole Superman angle by disseminating Kryptonite into the nearby area? I mean, Clark changing into Hostess fruit pie salesman duds doesn’t counteract the effects of the fabled green rock does it? Anyway, I have to give the writer some credit on this strip, it’s freaking weird and fun and I was so hoping the bad guys would win with a plot this thick. I mean do you know how much it probably cost them to secure that Kryptonite? More than they would have netted picking pockets. To me that just means that these thieves are more concerned with quality than quality; the act itself is reward enough.

I can wait to start breaking out with a bunch of the Marvel versions of these ads, as it should be enlightening.

The Essential DC Hostess Ads Vol. 3: Fruit Pies, 1975-1978

There really were a ton of these Hostess ads published between 1975 and 1981. I keep finding more, and I haven’t even gotten into the Marvel series yet. I think I’ve mentioned this, but I still think it’s really funny how on the one hand, since DC writers and artists took the time to script and draw these full page comic ads starring all the major (and some minor) comic characters, that DC would seem to be fully behind the Hostess product. I mean it’s one thing to sell ad space, but to have the ad feature so much of the creative DC content, it just screams that DC endorses Hostess. When you think of it, the modern equivalent would be something like a series of say Frito Lay commercials starring the cast of C.S.I Las Vegas, set in their world with the crew trying to find corn chip thieves based on analysis of snack food finger dust or something.

But still, on the other hand, these DC characters never ever come into contact with any unwrapped Hostess product, and if a villain does, then it’s invariably one created specifically for these ads, ala Cat Man or something. It actually sort of makes a statement for anti-advertising, where subconsciously maybe kids think that the product isn’t all that good because it’s obviously not good enough to cross Batman’s lips. Of course, much like bad press, I’m sure negative advertising is just as good as any other advertising, getting the word out in any manner possible. I’ve had this argument a lot, but I tend to fully agree that even the most vile and annoying commercial is doing it’s job well, because that one time you need that product it’s the first thing you’ll think of. There are these horrible jewelry store ads all over the radio here in Atlanta (much like everywhere else I assume) that make me want to strangle the store owners, all of ‘em, but I guarantee that the first time I ever needed to (I say need but I mean want) buy a ring or something that would be the first place I went even though I’m sure there are plenty of independent jewelers that have fine product. I think I prefer my product placement/food ads to lean in the other direction. Like in the horrible Ghost Rider movie for instance, when Nic Cage/Johnny Blaze is promoting Jelly Belly jelly beans, he really promotes the hell out of ‘em. Eats the damn things by the bucketful and everything.

Anyway, this is all beside the point, which is discussing the third volume in the Essential Hostess Ads series, of course this time focusing on Fruit Pies. Though I associate Hostess with Twinkies, their line of Fruit Pies must have been a huge part of their business at the time considering their large range of flavors, at least six during the 70′s (apple, cherry, blueberry, blackberry, lemon, and peach.) It’s also kind of interesting that the company focused only their Twinkies, Cupcakes, and Fruit Pies, but neglected the Ding Dongs, HoHos, and Chocodiles. I mean since a Chocodile is basically a chocolate covered Twinkie you’d think that, that would make for some awesome DC comics adventures, if not a nice twist on the villain speech, mixing dark, chocolate, creamed, and golden into a thousand possible combinations (or maybe just sixteen.) So before I write the encyclopedia Britannica of my thoughts on Hostess comic ads, lets get into the meat, er, real fruit filling of this week’s Essential Hostess volume.

Superman in The Spy 1975

Ah Clark, you sly bastard, you filled your closet with fruit pies. Obviously it would be insane for a dude to have a Superman costume in his closet, but a boatload of fruit pies? Standard operating procedure. At least he didn’t spin the world around backwards to make the “spy” forget, or kiss him. Man, all my knowledge of Superman is pretty much derived from that first Donner film.

Batman and the Captive Commissioner 1976

First off, Robin sure is being lewd in that first panel. Real, Deep, Big trouble is it Robin? Is it a Hot, Sticky, Load of trouble as well? Now did the writer of this comic just previously lean the definition of Svengali, because he sure goes to pains to both define it and massacre the reference all at the same time. I know I looked it up, because I’m a dork and I was tied of hearing the reference and not knowing exactly what it meant. This comic is also another perfect example of how Hostess Fruit Pies did absolutely nothing to help save the day, yet everyone seems to think otherwise. Apparently Batman can’t knock out two thugs without the help of real fruit and tender crust that you just wouldn’t believe.

Penguin in the Cuckoo Cuckoos 1976

What the hell is going on in this ad? There are ideas flying all over the place, the dissident cuckoos, hell, cuckoo clocks with talons and wings, double hell, talking cuckoo clocks with talons and wings, no super heroes with closets full of Hostess Pies, the police actually thwarting the Penguin? Jezz this thing is all over the place. Also what’s up with the last panel full of cats and stuff? This is just the first of a slew of villain starring Hostess Fruit Pie ads, so I guess that flaky tender crust must bring out the flaky tender headed evil of the DC universe…

Batman in The Whole World’s Upside Down 1977

Okay, this now wins, hands down, as my favorite DC Hostess ad of all time. Where do I begin commenting on this masterpiece of literature? I know that if I had the power to completely flip perception, gravity and the laws of physics as Mr. Topsy Turvy Man apparently can, I’d spend my days picking up loose change and fruit pies. Actually let me get this straight. Now, it’s not that TT man is upside down and floating in the air, it’s that he’s managed to flip the entire earth upside down, gravity-wise I assume as it’s kind of impossible to flip the earth upside down since there really is no up and down in space, I mean as I’m right side up in the US right now, Asia is technically “upside down” at the same time. So he has the unique ability to make everyone perceive that they are upside down by creating a second source of gravity working on the body, one that concentrates on clothing and one’s sense of balance, while not disrupting the normal gravity that keeps people grounded on earth. So in reality, he is floating upside down and all fruit pies and loose change are losing gravity and floating up, and since he’s upside down he can catch them, making him, well, the worst criminal in the history of stupid villains. I feel like I did after trying to describe Donnie Darko to a friend. This whole comic would have made so much more sense if TT man was making ladies skirts fly up around their heads or something.

By the way, that dumb kid never lost hold of his damn fruit pie so he should just shut his, well pie hole.

Green Lantern in the Fruit Pie Scene 1977

Two panels into this Green Lantern ad and I had high hopes. Already the writer has made both an awesome homage to a brilliant film (Bride of Frankenstein) and one of the worst “name explanation” gags ever. It started out with a high camp bang, and I was hoping it’d just get all John Waters from there, but alas it ended pretty weak. So Green Lantern’s ring can just bigify him and the others? Well what can’t it do then? Also, I’m getting to point where I believe that the DC universe of cities is populated by idiotic dorks that have no idea what they are talking about. They couldn’t eat their fruit pies because they were small and their mouths were not large enough to bite into that tasty tender crust to get to all of that real fruit filling? Well, weren’t the pies shrunk-ified as well? I didn’t see those guys straddling giant fruit pies in those jars. I guess this strip was just gnitnioppasid (spell that backwards to see how I feel.)

Joker in the Cornered Clown 1977

The fruit pies are really starting to bring the evil side of the DC universe out to play as we get the first ad starring the Joker. Now even though they probably can’t have him winning in this ad, I thought it would have been so cool to see this ruse work. I mean honestly, the reverse is true for most of the other ads. Throw a maniacal villain a fruit pie and he’s libel to not only stop the crime he’s committing but also put himself in handcuffs just to get at the damn flaky crusts and real fruit filling.

Also, on a side note, the first panel just reminds me of Spielberg’s quest to ungunify the E.T. movie. Guns are neat, an this Hostess fruit pie ad shows how pointless it is to have cops standing around with walkie talkies instead of 12 gauge shotguns. I mean these awesome flatfoots managed to hold their rifles, eat some fruit pies AND catch the Joker (possibly with other limbs that weren’t featured), all without seeming menacing, so I call bunk on you Spielberg.

Aquaman Mera Meets the Manta Men 1978

Sigh. So like why is this an Aquaman comic? Shouldn’t it be an Aqualad and Mera comic? That is Aqualad right? There’s just so much wrong with this comic. First we have some really pointless narration that says exactly what the characters will say, then there are Manta Men emitting deadly stun blows that work as mind control on sharks (jeez, couldn’t they just pick a type of ray to emit, I mean these are neither deadly or stunning, they just blow), all of which is followed by the coupe de grace of a giant hand materializing out of water (I’ll buy that as Mera’s power), but where in the hell did the fruit pies come into the picture? Okay, so there are fruit pies as well, but aren’t they freaking soggy underwater? You know, I believe I can think of about a million better things to do with my fingers, hands and mouth than eat fruit pies, Manta Men. I hate this ad.

Batman in the Corsair of Crime 1978

HA! Finally, a mainstay DC character eating a damn fruit pie! I can see that the artist on this piece was a maverick.

Joker in Clowning Around 1978

Joker, Joker, Joker, is crime paying off so badly that you have to stoop so low as to audition for the freaking Gotham circus? At least we get a tale of revenge in this fruit pie ad from 1978. Too bad there weren’t clowns dying akimbo in mass amounts of real fruit filling, now that would have made for an exploitation masterpiece. Instead we get a very cinematic story where the plot is told in monologue flashback and we see that the Joker never had a chance. Um, so exactly how does this work. See apparently the Joker hates him some fruit pies. So since Joker didn’t accept any deliciously tender and flaky pastry, and thus wasn’t distracted, when exactly did these clowns switch darts on him? I wish the ending was worth the amount of plot they put in this ad.

Joker in Laugh, Clown, Laugh 1978

In this second Joker ad from 1978 we had a writer that totally screwed the pooch on the previous built up of the back-story on Joker’s feelings towards fruit pies. Doesn’t he hate fruit pies? Why would he be so glad he kept some at the end? Has that dude in the crown never seen five clowns all together at once? These questions sadly have no answers. Oh well.

And on this sad note, I’ll end our investigation of this installment of the Essential Hostess Ads Vol. 3: Fruit Pies. Fear not though, because I have unearthed enough material for 3 more volumes of DC Hostess ads, not to mention at least as many posts on the Marvel ads (I don’t think that’s the sound of rejoicing I hear), so I’m sure we’ll continue this dialogue another day.