Karen: Perhaps the best, or at least most exciting, house ads were those put out by Marvel for Marvel merchandise. Whether you ever got the stuff or not, it was fun to look at all the different types of items available. Although the comics had ads for superhero and other merchandise from a variety of sellers, we're focusing just on those items offered by Marvel itself. Well, except for our opening one, because it's just too cool!
Karen: Yes, it's what everyone wanted back in 1974: these scintillating collector's medallions! Spidey, Hulk, and Conan on these groovy solid-bronze medallions. And so many ways to wear and display them...all you needed to complete your look was a Hercules wristband and bell bottoms!
Doug: Let it not be lost on anyone, faithful readers, that to have worn one of these bad boys around one's neck would certainly have invited a look of disdain from the ladies!! I fondly recall this ad, but must admit to never actually desiring one of these medallions. But they were cool-looking, even if I would have drawn that sideways glance!
Karen: I'm a little surprised that they went with Conan over Captain America. When I think of Marvel products from the 70s, there were three main characters who were represented: Spidey, Hulk, and Cap. But there's no denying Conan's popularity either.
Doug: Oh, that all-powerful marketing machine! You are correct in your assessment of the Big Three... well, Four.
Karen: Of course, another accessory that you couldn't be without was your Marvel belt buckle. I have to say, if that's the actual art that appeared on the buckles, they didn't put a lot of effort into making it. I mean they just took images from existing covers, and not necessarily good ones either. And the 'Hulk" buckle is actually a Defenders buckle. Of course, what do I know, I never wore a belt! This ad is actually for two products, the second being posters. Those posters are pretty cool, particularly the ones from actual magazine covers. I love how it reads. 'Because Stan (the Man) Lee has heard the word, you can get any of these posters for a mere $2.00". Like Stan had anything to do with the merchandising! But again, this was Marvel's way of telling us, "We're all one big family!"
Doug: You know, I've seen the next generation of these for sale in comics shops. They're just as spiffy. Much cooler than sporting some big honkin' John Deere logo (and probably more comfortable, too!).
Karen: Doug, I know this is one of your favorites, and one of mine too: Mighty Marvel calendars! This one is from 1975, although it says it will still be valuable "in the year 2,001"!! That must have seemed a long way off back then.
Karen: I think my favorite calendar was the bicentennial one, where a lot of the Marvel characters were inserted into historical scenes.
Doug: Now you're cooking in my kitchen! Yep, I have the 1976 calendar you reference, as well as calendars from 1978, 1979, and 1980. You can find a group shot here, and a pic of the July 1976 page featuring Cap here. I did display them, and later went through a period when I regretted doing so. Printed on heavy stock, January and February often began to tear at the pinhole. My mom's solution was to put transparent tape over the hole, thus reinforcing it. But nowadays I'm just glad to have had (and still have) these gems. They were really neat, and the new art dedicated to them was very cool. You also can't beat knowing the birthday of your favorite Bullpen personality!
Karen: Of course, the calendars were great, but this was the one thing I simply couldn't live without: Stan Lee's Origins of Marvel Comics! I got this for Christmas and it completely blew my mind. Not only did you get the origin tales of the FF, Spidey, Thor, the Hulk, and Dr. Strange, but the book also had text from ol' Smilin' Stan himself, explaining how these characters were created (although his recollections might not jibe with others, most especially Jack Kirby's!). This was one of my most treasured possessions -in fact I still have it today! - and I'm sure many folks had the same feeling. Although the ad shown here portrays a slightly different cover than what was finally produced.
Doug: I believe the Surfer was put on hold until Son of Origins. I loved this entire series as it progressed annually. Even though I got Son of Origins first, I nonetheless enjoyed this entire series and Stan's "recollections", as you put it. And yes, the more I read about Stan and Jack, the more their accounts seem to differ. Stan really makes no apologies for his "memories", and of course from Jack we'll never really know -- I guess whatever Mark Evanier says is all we'll get.