Book Review: Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!

Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!

If you were around in 1954 you'll recall my heading to this review as the title of Frederick Wertham's stinging attack on the comic book biz. A lot of folks in high places took note and forced the industry to create the Comics Code Authority to clean up the product. Fortunately for advertisers in comics none of this applied to them and they continued to promote cheap rubbish as they had done since comics arrived.

Kirk Demarais has written a wonderful tongue-in-cheek review of these novelties. The clever format allows you to see a picture of the original ad, full of glowing rhetoric and a photo of the real thing. The text nicely breaks it down as this: We imagined; They sent; Behind the mystery; Customer satisfaction. The eight chapters cover 150 items that no boy's room should be without and Demarais admits, in the Intro that he has spent big bucks collecting these 'treasures' from past decades.

I enjoyed looking through the pages helped by the breezy, colorful layout, Demarais designed them, too. In the back pages six ads are reproduced from comics, typical examples that seduced the Nation's youth (mostly boys of course) and if you want to see more of these check out Hey Skinny! Great Advertisements from the Golden Age of Comic Books (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP), a large size paperback that reprints in color comic book ads from the forties and fifties. 'Mail-order mysteries' and 'Hey skinny' are both instant nostalgia.

Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads! is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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