Sea Monkeys And The Backs Of Comic Books

Recently I was reminded of the backs of comic books — and therefore of sea monkeys, which always seemed to be on display on that crucial advertising venue focused, with laserlike precision, on a very precise demographic group.

I’m speaking, of course, of nerdy boys who like to lounge, and read comic books, and dream a bit. That demographic group was highly credulous bunch. After all, we were reading about superheroes, and the unlikely romantic exploits of ever-youthful students at Riverdale High School, and even importance pieces of literature boiled down to Classic comics form. Of course we were gullible and ready to believe just about anything that we saw on the last page of those comic books, even if all of the ads seem to have been mysteriously frozen in time around 1949.

Hey . . . could those tantalizingly displayed X-ray Specs actually work? Gee, I really could use that device that lets you throw your voice into a box the next time I play a prank on my sister Cath! How would I look with a “van dyke” beard?

The most evocative of all, though, were Sea Monkeys. There they were, lounging in front of an undersea castle, improbably wearing crowns and smiling for the illustration. Okay, they probably didn’t wear crowns, but what were those things? If you bought sea monkeys, what would you get?

Then one of your friends made the plunge, saved money from his newspaper route, and sent in for the sea monkeys. When he got them you and friends went over to take a look . . . and it was just brine shrimp in a fishbowl. No castle, no crowns, no happy smiling scaled creatures.

When you realized what sea monkeys were, and that you couldn’t trust everything you read on the back of a comic book, everything changed a bit.

X-ray Specs

Driving home from work the other day a local radio talk show here in Columbus mentioned comic book advertisements and that brought back some fond memories. In the Webner household there was no shortage of comic books to read when we were growing up, Archie, Betty and Veronica, Richie Rich and the like.

With that of course brought the comic book ads, my favorite being the X-ray Specs. The thought of being able to see through things, imagine that. Boy the advertising companies could really suck you in with their descriptions, wonderful, hilarious, funny, exciting , amazing and spectacular. Not to mention the fine upstanding companies you were going to purchase your items from, Honor House and Honesty Company.

You dreamed as a child of what you were going to get for your hard earned allowance money that you worked all week for, usually disappointed by what actually arrived. I don’t recall the Webner family ever getting the X-ray Specs, but at one time we did purchase some Sea Monkeys which I think were small shrimp that wiggled around for maybe an hour and then died. I remember the water being so foggy you could hardly see what was going on anyway.

I wonder if any one ever bought anything that really lived up to their expectations ?