Saturday, June 4, 2016

Discuss: Giveaway and Promotional Comics

Redartz: Today, let's look at a little sidebar of our hobby, promotional and giveaway comics. After all, if there's anything better than comics, it's gotta be free comics!

The history of promotional comics is a long one; some historical examples include Little Orphan Annie's Popped Wheat giveaways, Motion Picture Funnies Weekly  (with the first appearance of Sub-Mariner, a movie theater giveaway) and "Donald Duck's Atom Bomb" (a scarce Carl Barks story, given away by Cheerios). Many continue to be produced up to the present; "Free Comic Book Day" provides many freebies each year at brick-and-mortar comic shops everywhere. Many of the current films and DVD releases feature promotional comics as enticements. 

Personally, I have found promo comics to be a lot of fun; often being produced in odd sizes and formats makes them unique and attractive. Here's a few of my favorites, with thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for some of the images.

 
I got one of these as a kid with a bag of chips. Still recall asking my Mom for that particular brand, just for the comic...

Fairmont Potato Chips Giveaway, 1970


Cartoon Network Comic given with VHS Tapes, 1996
On the left: This little gem adapted a great episode from the cartoon series. It was given away with the VHS tape of another episode...
On the right:
Planned Parenthood giveaway, 1976
Spider-Man and sex education; not a combination one would generally expect...























Adventures of the Big Boy 92, c. 1964
On the left: No doubt many of us have picked up one of these at some time; usually with food and drink stains...
March of Comics 293, 1966
On the right: Or maybe taken one of these home with a pair of new shoes...

























How about you?  Share your comments and memories of these humble yet appealing freebies, while I go pursue that elusive Pop-Tarts Batman mini from 1966...


Free Comic Book Day giveaway, 2008

Aim Toothpaste giveaway, 1980




























Pizza Hut giveaway, 1978
Chicago Tribune giveaway, 1980

10 comments:

Rip Jagger said...

Love these little oddball comics. They can be quite difficult to gather up. Many of the Spidey ones above I had at one time or other and many of the others as well.

Perhaps the promotional giveaway I've spent the most time tracking down were a collection of Popeye vocational comics produced by the Charlton staff under the direction of the recently deceased George Wildman. These appear under the King Features label and came out about the time Charlton took on the license.

Here's a link to a post I did about a wonderful collection of vocational information comics and other goodies I found connected to these delightful books:

http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.com/2011/09/labors-of-popeye.html

Rip Off

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martinex1 said...

I had that Spider-Man / Hulk from the Chicago Tribune. In fact I had about a dozen of them. As part of my paper route we had to stuff the flyers, ads, and extras into the body of the Sunday main paper. The parts would be dropped off separately and once the "news" arrived we would put in the filler, comic pages, TV guide etc. I still remember that Sunday because we always had extra stuffer parts so I had some additions to my collection. The story wasn't much to remember and it was only about 8 or 12 pages if I recall correctly but I liked the cover art. Great memories.

Humanbelly said...

I have to confess that I was never a big fan of these gimmicky promo comics-- and never held onto them for long. Even as a little kid, I had a sense that they weren't "really" the characters I liked in "real" comics, 'cause they were out of continuity. (Heck, I was devoted to continuity even before I could pronounce it.) They fell into the same category as commercials (like for Pebbles) that used licensed characters to do their shilling. Meh.

That being said, I do think I still have somewhere the tiny "comics" that came with the Hulk and Spiderman plastic model kits that came out in the early/mid 70's. Hulk was fighting, I think, Hydra-- and it may have been penciled by Herbie himself-- looked pretty good.

And our local-ish (22 miles away) AZAR'S franchise did give away those promo BIG BOY comics. In fact, they tended to build up quite a supply of back-issues, so we'd get several whenever we went there. (Infrequent, mind you. Going to our village's semi-condemned A&W drive-in was considered "eating out" in our family. . . heh. . . ) Those Big Boy comics were so hilariously lame, even by little kid in the 60's standards, but we did love them somehow.

One side benefit of the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY phenomenon that I had a one-time benefit from is that a few years ago someone up and left a stack of remainders from one of our LCS's at my shop. They'd done a thing where they taped a "Free Comic Book Day" logo right onto the cover of a bunch of un-sold issues as giveaways-- making them, of course, reading-only copies. But-- amongst those were the first issues of THE STRANGERS, which I rather liked, and of THE HYPERNATURALS, which is a solid pull-you-right-in issue. Ultimately, I know that I'll pick up the rest of those runs at some point based on those first giveaway books-!

HB

J.A. Morris said...

I have a few of those.

I had the Spider-Man/Dallas Cowboys comic, which was given away as a supplement to the Dallas Times Herald. Somehow a copy ended up on sale at a Safeway in Richmond, VA in 1983, I remember my father bringing me home a copy. He said something like "I know you like comics and football, so I thought you'd like this, even if you hate the Cowboys." FWIW,I still like comics and I still don't like the Cowboys. It was a fun little story, similar in tone to what you saw in 'Spidey Super Stories'. I just looked up the credits, creative team was David Anthony Kraft, Marie Severin and Kerry Gammill.

I've always been a fan of Christmas comic book stories. In recent years, I started collecting them and discovered that the Dallas Times Herald gave away two Spider-Man comics that were holiday themed. I love this cover, featuring Kingpin in a Santa suit!
https://blogintomystery.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/smxmas.jpg


Redartz said...

Rip- I vaguely recall those Popeye issues. Good luck with your search. Also thanks for the link- I will definitely check it out.



Martinex1- great story about your paper route. My sons had routes, but never got any cool inserts like those...

HB- that Hulk model would be fun to see. I've never seen it or the accompanying comic, but I do have the Spidey issue (courtesy of a lucky model kit find at a recent flea mkt.).

Your Azar's rings a bell; think we may have been in a couple. Mostly, thouhh, in our area they were Frish's Big Boy. Still love their Hot Fudge Cake...

J.A.- Christmas comics are a great niche. Lots of holiday- themed promos out there. And a Kingpin Santa? Gotta love that! Seems like one local 5-and-dime used to give out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer comics. Wish I'd kept one.

Edo Bosnar said...

I had two of these giveaways, and both of them were given out at my school. The first one was Mickey Mouse and Goofy Explore Energy which was actually an educational pamphlet, i.e., it wasn't an advertisement for any product or company. This was when I was in the 4th or 5th grade, in the late '70s, when we were covering the energy crisis in social studies or something like that. That was actually a pretty entertaining book, I remember reading it several times.
The other was one of those notorious Superman RadioShack giveaways, which we got because my school bought one of those TRS 80 computers, so Radio Shack also threw in a whole box of the promotional comic books. I recall finding that one a bit silly, because at that point (about 1980), I was deep into comics and continuity and this one just wasn't as sophisticated as the stuff you could find on the spinner racks. However, I remember thinking the art was pretty good, and according to the GCD it was by Jim Starlin and Dick Giordano - impressive.

Anonymous said...

I had the Spiderman comic about the toothpaste. I must have been about 11, I guess, and I think I just threw it away. I expected an action-packed comic and instead I got lectured about proper dental care.
Talk about a buzz-kill.
M.P.

Redartz said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! Much appreciated.

Rip- your link was amazing! I had no idea there were so MANY of those Popeye books! And the supplemental materials are wonderful; Popeye Career Bingo...

Edo- those Superman/ Radio Shack comics were everywhere for awhile. DC inserted them into some of their regular books at the time, and of course they were available separately. Thanks for the tip on the art; didn't realize it was of such caliber!

M.P.- the Aim toothpaste comic was pretty straightforward compared to the Planned Parenthood giveaway. "Spider-Man vs. the Prodigy" presented us with a green alien trying to propagandize kids into having sex, and subsequently, babies. Spidey, of course, is having none of this and exposes the plot ( and also refers to the kids listening to their Henry Gross albums; oh those 70's). A very strange comic...

Anonymous said...

Redartz, I remember a green alien trying to propagandize me into having sex when I was a teenager. In hindsight, I think I should have married her.
She was great gal! I could have inherited the old man's farm!
M.P.

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