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Super Tuesday: Not Brand Echh!

Here’s a peculiar Marvel house ad from 1980. Reading the copy, Marvel would have us believe their fans couldn’t recognize books like Captain America, Hulk, and Avengers as being Marvel publications.

Were there counterfeit comics in circulation at this time? Was there some upstart 1980s publisher going to print with deceptive books like Myron Man or The Mighty Thorr?

Or could it be that fans were having a hard time recognizing their favorite books because of the god-awful ad that Marvel slapped on top of the whole line in that era?

Yep, it’s one of the most dramatic and important moments in comics history … and it could be worth $2500 to you!

I recall there was an even-uglier Toys R Us banner that ran across the top of books of this era, too.

Did it bother anyone else that their comics covers were turned into strident billboards? Sound off in comments, below!

TOMORROW AT LONGBOX GRAVEYARD: Marvel Two-In-One Times One Hundred!

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Posted on August 28, 2012, in Super Tuesday and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Now that you mention it, it does drive me crazy that that huge, ugly ad is draped across one of the most important (to me) comics of all time, X-Men #137.

    I don’t remember the other ad you show, but I agree, it does seem silly to have readers make sure that “Marvel” is in the upper trademark.

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  2. Ooh. Yes. The cloak-and-dagger black market trade in counterfeit comics was a dark and nefarious Time, indeed! It was so deeply underground that many claim it didn’t exist at all. But, those in the know — as you know — will tell you otherwise. 😉 lol

    Hope you have a great day! 💋

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  3. The banner:

    I was an avid reader at this time, and I had no interest in that contest they were running. The banner still looks tacky. I wonder if Jim Shooter has any regrets over this?

    The house ad:

    It makes absolutely no sense to me. Again, this would be something to ask Jim Shooter.

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    • An interesting project would be to examine covers of this time — especially the original art, if it can be found — to see how that banner influenced cover compositions. I’d be surprised if these banners were planned far enough in advance that Marvel’s art directors could accommodate them in their cover designs. I’d bet you there were all sorts of last-minute re-draws and kludges going on as the addressable cover space shrank by a third over night.

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      • Yeah, good point. I’d be curious about the covers.

        Something else: in the issues published that month, Shooter prefaces the contest with talk about rising production costs. This was the month that cover prices rose from 40 cents to 50 cents. Guess Marvel thought this gimmick would offset any drop in demand.

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      • I have a bit of experience with production and deadlines. You can bet your bottom dollar the art room was pulling all-nighters because of editorial or advert changes. It’s different today but back in the day all-nighters in newsrooms and periodicals was the norm. Everyone else can and did miss their deadlines but the artroom still had to be at the printer’s at 8 a.m. Monday morning, hey?

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  4. Do you think this trend started with DC? I remember a very narrow “celebrate the bicentennial” banner in ’76, and they also did some on-cover promotions for the first Christopher Reeve film (maybe it was the second, but I think it was the first), including a “you can be in the Superman movie” contest, but I don’t think either of these were as blocky and annoying as these Marvel ones.

    I wonder if there is some where legalese story about the wording of the Marvel ad you referenced, about needing to show that they were actively protecting their trademark? Otherwise, the wording is totally bizarre.

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    • I had a conversation on Twitter about this, and we connected some dots — this ad was circulating during a time of increased IP paranoia around Marvel. They were keeping a keen eye on animation at the time, afraid their concepts would be cloned over there — it was also the ere where Marvel was creating characters like “Spider-Woman,” “She-Hulk,” and “Ms. Marvel” to head off copyright claims and attempts to create similar characters at other studios. Likely this was all part of some lawyer-fueled initiative of the time.

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