The Advertisements in Marvel’s Star Wars Comics

Star Wars 1
One of the many covers for STAR WARS #1 (2015)

Marvel Comics published licensed Star Wars comic books from 1977 until 1986.  Last week, the franchise returned to Marvel Comics with Star Wars #1, and the Nothing But Comics! team shared multiple perspectives on this debut issue.  Reading a print copy, I noticed the advertisements published in the comic.  These ads showcased toys, a book, toy retailers, a comic shop, and other Marvel publications. Thinking it would be interesting to compare the modern advertisements in Star Wars #1 to the ads published in the earliest vintage Marvel Star Wars comic book in my collection, I dug out my copy of Star Wars #13 (dated July 1978).

The cover of my vintage copy of STAR WARS #13 (1978)
The cover of my vintage copy of STAR WARS #13 (1978)

SW1FC

The first ad in Star Wars #1 is for the New York-based comic shop Midtown Comics.  Today most comics fans purchase their printed comics from local comic shops, or order their copies online from large comics retailers like Midtown Comics, which ships new and vintage comics through the mail.  In 1978, most comics were still purchased through local newsstands, but fans seeking back issues could always contact the comics dealers who advertised in comic books.  Check out the bright yellow ad for comics dealer Howard M. Rogofsky at the bottom left of the advertisement in issue #13 below.

Misc Ad

Of course, in 1978, to ensure that you didn’t miss any issues of your favorite comic, you could also get a mail-order subscription directly from Marvel Comics. Oh, and if you got hungry while reading your comics, you could eat a Slim Jim.

Marvel Slim Jim

The second and third advertisements in Star Wars #1 are for the collectible toy retailers Order 66 Toys and Brian’s Toys, respectively.

Order 66 ToysBrians Toys

Also, the back cover of Star Wars #1 is a Hasbro ad featuring the Star Wars Black Series 6-inch figure collection.

SW1BC

The target audience of these modern toy retailer and action figure advertisements is presumably adult toy collectors.  The toy and sports equipment advertisements in the 1978 Star Wars #13 are clearly aimed at kids, and showcase basketballs, skateboards, and Star Wars action figures (although there is no indication that these action figures are “collectibles”).

Park-Rider SkateboardStar Wars 13 BCStar Wars Action Figures

Unlike this year’s Star Wars #1, Star Wars #13 has ads for fishing gear and a free booklet about increasing muscularity.

Star Wars 13 IFCNiresk

Star Wars #1 has ads for upcoming Marvel titles, including next month’s Star Wars #2, previews of future Star Wars comics titles Star Wars: Darth Vader and Star Wars: Princess Leia, as well as the new Marvel title Spider-Gwen.

SWNextIssueDarth Vader PreviewPrincess Leia PreviewSpider-Gwen

In addition to upcoming Marvel titles, Star Wars #1 features ads that promote omnibus collections of past Marvel Star Wars comics, and one ad that promotes a licensed Star Wars book published by DK Publishing.

Omnibus Ads

An advertisement for a licensed STAR WARS book from DK Publishing.
An advertisement for a licensed STAR WARS book from DK Publishing.

 

Star Wars #13 also has ads that promote other contemporary Marvel titles, including comics featuring Godzilla, Devil Dinosaur, Star Lord, Tarzan, and John Carter of Mars, as well as the Marvel kids magazine Pizzazz.

Godzilla Devil Dinosaur Star-Lord Tarzan John CarterPizzazz

Star Wars #13 features a type of advertisement that is completely lacking in Star Wars #1 – food ads.  In addition to the Slim Jim ad discussed above, Star Wars #13 has four pages of advertisements promoting the Clark Bar Superhero Sweepstakes, which features various Marvel superheroes, including the Hulk, the Thing, Spider-Man, and Captain America, as well as the licensed fantasy warrior character Red Sonja.  Note that the candy bar contest offers prizes that depict characters from Marvel’s competitor, DC Comics (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc.).

Clark BarClark SuperheroClark Bar3

Nabisco advertises prizes to promote its Sugar Daddy, Sugar Mama, and Sugar Babies brand candies.

Nabisco Candy Bars

(Editor’s Note:  At this point in the article, Reed stopped writing and went to his local Walgreens pharmacy to purchase some Sugar Babies candy.  He returned home to write much later, clearly under the influence of a sugar high.  The remainder of this article was heavily edited.)

Also in issue #13, Spider-Man uses Hostess Fruit Pies to foil the villainous Home Wrecker.

Hostess adA look at the advertisements in two Marvel Star Wars comics, published almost forty years apart, provides an interesting confirmation of the changing demographics of comics readers.  No longer aimed at an audience of kids, modern Marvel Star Wars comics connect with adult collectors and fans.  Of course, modern readers would not encounter any advertisements if they chose to purchase digital copies of Star Wars #1, a technological option that was not available in 1978.

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The images above are the property of their respective owner(s), and are presented for not-for-profit, educational purposes only under the fair use doctrine of the copyright laws of the United States of America.

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “The Advertisements in Marvel’s Star Wars Comics”

  1. Love this post! One of my favorite things about going back and reading old comics is checking out the ads, the stuff they sold/advertised in comics back then are often times hilarious and the ads are usually a lot of fun. I’ve noticed recently that some ads in current comics are paying homage to some of the frequently featured ads from back in the day.

    1. I agree. One if the best things about reading back issues is old advertisements. For me it feels like traveling back in time. It can be fun and strange to experience this time warp. Now with digital and trades these experiences will be lost.

      1. When I was a kid a lot of my initial comics reading experience was with old issues that my cousin gave me. These ad’s were five years, ten years or sometimes older and even then I found it really fun. I always wondered what would happen if mail ordered any of that stuff would I still get it? Probably not in hindsight but I was crushing on some sea monkeys

          1. I remember asking my Dad to buy Sea Monkeys, and he was like “No, they don’t look anything like this picture.” I was so disappointed. 🙂

            I would love to know how much money these people made off of kids.

  2. A lot of these look so familiar. Particularly the Dracula Slim Jim, the Dr J Basketball, Spider-Man fruit pie and the body building ads.
    Other ads not shown that used to stick out to me: Bonkers candy, x-ray glasses and ET Reese’s pieces.

    1. I grew up In a foreign country so I always wondered what those fruit pies and hostess Twinkies tasted. I imagined they were really good for heroes and villains to fight over them.
      When I moved here to US years later and got to finally taste some, it was the embodiment of disappointment.

      1. I think some of the villains in those ads are cool…uh, interesting is probably the better word. I would love to see some of them appear in regular comics, with a modern twist. Just image what Dan Slott could do with the Home Wrecker. 🙂

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