Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Swim, my pretties! Swim and conquer the world!

When I was a kid it seemed that every American comic, from Superman to Sad Sack, was teasing me. There were adverts for the coolest things. Toy soldiers that came in lots of one hundred or more, and not just WWII and Romans, but Civil War as well. X-ray specs, Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies, which were recommended by Superman himself, so you knew they had to be good for you. Oreo Cookies, American Football simulation games, and don't forget Sea Monkeys!

Perhaps it's just as well we could never buy these things in New Zealand. Sea Monkeys, as I later found out, were just brine shrimp. There were not going to build castles under the water, or be trained to be my unholy army capable of taking over the world (mwah ha ha ha!).

When they finally imported Oreos into this country we discovered they only tasted like burnt biscuits--that's biscuits in the English sense of the word. My wife can attest to having eaten a Twinkee when visiting the US ... it wasn't anything to write home about (unlike Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream, which she still craves).

Then there were the seed-selling adverts, where if you sold hundreds of packets of unwanted seeds you could get bikes, tents, telescopes, and other items of unimaginable coolness. I can still see the crude artwork of those pages in my mind's eye ... in many ways the ads were more memorable than the comics they appeared in.

But it was the plastic soldiers I wanted the most. I'd never even see Roman soldiers for sale in New Zealand, and here a comic book was offering to sell you two complete Roman armies! Any comic I owned with that ad was never going to last ... too much drool on the page. Heck, I still want them, even today, but only if they are still $2.25.

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