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 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.
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.
The second and third advertisements in Star Wars #1 are for the collectible toy retailers Order 66 Toys and Brian’s Toys, respectively.
Also, the back cover of Star Wars #1 is a Hasbro ad featuring the Star Wars Black Series 6-inch figure collection.
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”).
Unlike this year’s Star Wars #1, Star Wars #13 has ads for fishing gear and a free booklet about increasing muscularity.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
Nabisco advertises prizes to promote its Sugar Daddy, Sugar Mama, and Sugar Babies brand candies.
(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.
A 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.
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.