Monday, May 11, 2009

Comic Book Ads: Recording From the Future! (…Cue scary music!)

The 1970s thru early ‘80s was a very weird time for comic books.
With Gold Key as a notable exception, art was arguably better than it had been in the preceding Gold and Silver Ages… and, for all publishers in general, story content was not.

Beyond story and art, a constant of the period were full pages devoted to tiny rectangular ads packed many to the page. One of the oddest I’ve seen was “The Timeless Bass Secret”, about which I posted HERE.

Today, we highlight the mysterious Recording From the Future (…Cue scary music!), as seen in THE JOKER # 3 and, presumably, other DC Comic Books cover dated October 1975.

I’ll eschew any further introduction, and let the ad speak for itself:

“On February 11, 1969 a recording was found on a New York City elevator. It purports to have been recorded approximately 125 years from now. For copy, send $3 to: The Record, (Some Post Office Box in New York, New York, etc., etc.).”
As we so conveniently abbreviate these days… WTF?

So, lessee… For those originally reading the comic, this recording would have been found about 6 ½ years ago – and about 40 ¼ years ago to us, here in May 2009.

The recording’s “purported” origins would place it as having been made in the year 2094 (…Cue scary music!)
…Yet, somehow, it was recorded on a device its discoverer could play in 1969? Or, for, that matter 1975… or even 2009?

Considering all the “dead-or-near-dead” recording formats among those that have come and gone in a mere 40 years – Vinyl records, Reel-to-reel tape, 8-Track tapes, Cassettes, CDs, Beta, Laserdisc, VHS, DVD, H-D DVD, Blu-Ray DVD, Digital downloads… and those yet to be discovered in the coming 85 years – how could the individual behind this ad ever authenticate his claim?

Did George Jetson or Mister Mxyzptlk tell him? Maybe DC’s Rip Hunter Time Master, Jay Ward’s Mr. Peabody, or Irwin Allen’s Time Tunnel guys!

In comparison to what was heard on the recording, would our 1969 English (or whatever language it was) sound as stilted as Shakespeare – or Silver Age comic book dialogue? Maybe it was recorded in INTERLAC – DC’s common interplanetary language of the future.

Was this message from the future some insightful knowledge that, if properly applied, might change the course of all mankind… or was it just a toothpaste ad?

And, how many people actually parted with three whole 1975-era dollars to find out?

One can but wonder… (…Cue scary music!)
Hey! Maybe one of OUR DESCENDANTS might actually be the one to MAKE THAT RECORDING in 2094!!! …Wouldn’t that be a hoot and a half?


Chris Barat said...


The fact that this appeared in THE JOKER strongly suggests that it may all have been an elaborate practical joke! (Worthy of Freakazoid, I'm tempted to say!)

Hopefully, IF it really was a "message from the future," it cleared up the "Timeless Bass Secret" once and for all!


Joe Torcivia said...

Chris writes:

“Hopefully, IF it really was a "message from the future," it cleared up the "Timeless Bass Secret" once and for all!”

That’s GREAT, Chris! I wish I’d thought to say that in my original post!

I’m afraid, though, the only “practical joke” was on the folks that sent in their three bucks!

Did anyone actually DO these things, I wonder?


Chris Barat said...


"Did anyone actually DO these things, I wonder?"

Given the ubiquitous presence of ALL of those dubious ads in comics of the day, I think you know the answer to this question! Makes repetitive ads for Twizzlers and Kit Kats seem a little more benign, doesn't it!


Joe Torcivia said...

Chris writes:

“Given the ubiquitous presence of ALL of those dubious ads in comics of the day, I think you know the answer to this question!”

I’m not so sure, Chris. Perhaps those tiny ads cost so little to run that they were worthwhile to the folks behind them, even if almost no one responded. At worst, you could sell the names and addresses you received to some other sham marketer.

Kinda like e-mail spam is today! It costs nothing to send, so ANY response is gravy.

We’ll never know, of course… but I’m glad their day has passed. If only we could say the same about spam.

“Greetings from the year 2094! Here’s some free-three-dollar-advice, true believer! Never respond to any of those little ads you find in comic books! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Over and out!”