Monday, March 23, 2009

Comic Book Ads: The Timeless Bass Secret (…Yes, Really!)

Once upon a time – and thankfully no longer – comic books had full pages devoted to tiny rectangular ads packed many to the page. The items being advertised varied widely, but this one (from a Marvel Comic circa 1980) is certainly one of the oddest I’VE ever seen!
The Timeless Bass Secret
For thousands of years, Oriental fishermen have had the task of providing food for the village. The fish they seek are called Koh’Beh. The Koh’Beh is the Oriental version of our American Black Bass.

While on duty in Vietnam, I watched in amazement as a 10-year-old boy, using the fishing secret handed down to him from the ancients, landed 10 Koh’Beh within 30 minutes! This timeless method is equally effective on our Black Bass.

For complete details on this exciting Bass method, please send a self-addressed envelope and 5.00 to… [ SOME POST OFFICE BOX IN MICHIGAN ].


29, almost 30, years later, I wonder how “timeless” this big bad bass secret has proved to be?
Beyond that, did anyone ever trade FIVE “1980 Dollars” for the ability to catch a container-load of Koh’Beh? And does Kobe Bryant know that there’s a FISH out there that might phonetically share his name?
This was a time, after the end of the Silver Age and before the rise of the Direct Market, where I am convinced that comic books DID NOT KNOW WHO THEIR AUDIENCE WAS! (Yes, there were similar pages during the Silver Age too… but they primarily ran ads for novelties, magic tricks, joke items, old comics, and stamp collecting! Never did we see something this “out there”!)

Publishers were content to make whatever they could by turning full pages over to “Ad Brokers” who carved up the space (into sometimes uncomfortably small rectangles) and sold it piecemeal to whoever had a “wish or a widget” to sell to the (demographically undetermined) public.
On the same page, were ads for “Learn Nunchaku!!!”, “Become a Juggler!”, “Write, Sell and Publish Your Own Songs!”, “Have an Atlas Body in 7 Days!”, and “Self Defense: Kung-Fu, Karate!”
Odd by today’s standards? Yes. But, in comparison, “The Timeless Bass Secret” made them all look like those unforgettably ubiquitous “Hostess Twinkee Ads” of the 1970s!

Honestly, ads like these seemed more at home in the back of trashy magazines, than mainstream comic books. As the ‘80s wore on, this practice was diminished and discontinued.

Some things, it seems, DO change for the better! In this case, I’ll bet even some BASS agree!

BELOW: A Comic Book Ad Page Circa 1971. Novelties galore. …What? No "Timeless Bass Secrets"? What a gyp!


Chuck Munson said...

I'm sorry but "ancient Chinese secret" is what is twirling around my mind, although I do well recall those, to me, annoying explosions of tiny type and bad graphics shmeared across an entire page. I need more Calgon.....

Byron said...

I've been inventorying my collection for (yes, I really am giving my collection away) and I think I have enjoyed the ads almost as much as I have enjoyed the stories and the artwork. I love old comic books.