Ad Nauseam: Night Thrasher #4

Oh, hey there, I didn’t see you come in. What’s that? Oh, I was just thumbing through my eighteen issues of Night Thrasher comic books. “Who” you ask? Ah, well Night Thrasher is basically Batman without cool villains but makes up for it by riding a skateboard. Now I’m going to talk about the advertisements in this particular 27 year old issue. I do this semi-regularly. 

Hey, where are you going? You just got here! Why don’t you get comfortable and stay for a while. I have sweet tea in the fridge. 

NIGHT THRASHER #4/ NOVEMBER 1993

Tonight we’re looking in between the action of Marvel’s Night Thrasher #4 released in November of 1993. We’re going to hit all the nostalgic topics you’d expect: defunct toy stores, bad video games, and fast food tie-ins! What’s that? Why am I doing this? Well…why don’t buses have seatbelts? Why doesn’t McDonald’s sell hot dogs? Why is he called The “Lone” Ranger if he always has Tonto with him?

“Defensive”, you say? Well, kiddo, I only have one thing to say to you: Remember Seaquest?


seaQuest DSV!

First of all, DSV stands for Deep Submergence Vehicle. Glad that’s out of the way. Anywho, Seaquest (I’m typing it like this from now on) was a television show that ran for 3 seasons from 1993 to 1996. It took place in the scientific super-future of 2018 and was basically underwater Star Trek. It starred Roy Scheider (of Jaws fame) adding to my theory that he was clearly some sort of amphibious man-fish that needed quick access to salt water at all times. 

I included this ad as it was something I haven’t given a single solitary shred of thought since I last “watched” it. Seaquest, alongside Stargate SG-1, provided involuntary background noise that polluted the backroom of my grandfather’s currency exchange during my summer break days. I couldn’t tell you if this show was good or not (research shows it was popular for a hot second) but boy did it seem boring to an 11 year old. Apparently not even Darwin, Seaquest DSV’s genius talking Dolphin, could keep my attention for a full episode. And Darwin was mentioned so matter-of-factly on the wikipedia page that I had to do a double take. 

Nowadays Seaquest is some sort of aquatic zoo franchise throughout the US where you can book corporate events and birthday parties to touch otters and curse stingrays for taking Steve Irwin from us. Regardless of what Seaquest DSV means to people, it’ll always be sleepy television droning to me. Beats All My Children though. 

That last sentence sounds kinda dark. 

KayBee Toy Stores Ghost Rider Deal!

I’d like to point out that this issue of Night Thrasher stops dead in its tracks for a TWELVE PAGE ad for Ghost Rider’s comics and coupon deal. If anything, I’d say Night Thrasher himself acts as a mere husk for the Spirit of Vengeance and his aggressive marketing. It was around this time that Marvel paraded Ghost Rider quite a bit. Besides his main comic title, he was featured in SEVEN others! Not to mention his own toyline. So why was Marvel suddenly pushing the decades old Ghost Rider, you ask? SPAWN. Todd Mcfarlane’s series was the hottest comic on the planet. This new indie creation about a human unwillingly bonded with a demonic force under “Satan’s” power? Heck, that sounds like Ghost Rider. Well, that’s what Marvel thought too. And that’s why ‘ol Flamehead was everywhere in the mid 1990s. 

The ad featured is for a H O T D E A L in which you can bring the attached coupon into a KayBee toy store and get $5 off any Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis (when I was dead broke, man, I couldn’t picture this) game cartridge PLUS a Ghost Rider collectors comic issue! The combination of Ghost Rider swingin’ his chain near a Street Fighter II SNES box all below the KayBee Toys logo promotes this ad to the MEGA 90S NOSTALGIA HALL OF FAME. If there was some sort of physical shrine to my childhood memories…it would all be encompassed inside of a KayBee toy store. 

Till this day, if I’m visiting my childhood mall, I’ll always glance and visibly frown where the KayBee toy store used to be. I can recall the sound of electronic toys chirping ,grinding, performing on display as you walked in. Stepping onto that dirty royal blue carpeting stained from sugary Icee spills. Surrounded from floor to ceiling with various boxed toy trends spanning multiple eras. KayBee never got rid of anything. Employees just caked on those tiny white and red price stickers until the toy was basically free. I can place the three claustrophobic aisles leading to the back wall where you’d nearly be squashed by towering Care Bears and other assorted plush. Shuffling up to the cashier with your purchase, the entire counter area was littered with assorted candy, gags, keychains, and trading cards stacked at eye level for one last impulse purchase. I’d eagerly glance behind the cashier at the carefully lined wall of video game cartridges sitting in those hefty plastic cases. Scanning for suggestions I can rattle off for my birthday or Christmas. Man. What a vibe. I’m there, y’know? 

Pizza Hut X-Men Pizza Packs!

Pizza Hut has pizza with all the X-TRAS this ad boldly claims in an eye-catching two page spread that I would have framed hanging above my roaring fireplace. In my deep (dish) personal (pan) opinion, Pizza Hut was never the place to go for tie-in trinkets. Yet when they wanted to, Pizza Hut truly delivered (not only pizza) but some awesome X-TRAS as illustrated here. X-Men were as hot as the mozzarella on your slice with an awesome cartoon, toyline, and rebooted (sorta) comic series. For just $2.99 you can order a Kid’s pizza pack that consists of a personal pan pizza in a X-Men pizza box, One (of four) collector’s cups, an activity mat, and an X-Clusive X-Men comic (new issue every two weeks!). 

Around this time, the X-Men truly had a set of colorful characters brought to life by some amazing comic artists like Jim Lee, Andrew Wildman, Stephen Baskerville, John Herbet etc. that really made them stand out. From the logo to the backdrops and action poses…X-Men all came together and cemented the 1990s comic aesthetic many tried to duplicate. It’s a look and style that’s just so alluring to children and artists alike it’s no wonder why it was incorporated into toy, VHS, fast food, and trading card packaging. It just looked so intense and fresh. Personally I was never taken to a Pizza Hut unless it had to do with a Book It! coupon. And I was not aware of this promotion at the time. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t just go to eBay and see if someone had a set of these cups to purchase. Because, in my reality, nothing broadcasts culture more than one sipping from a 27 year old plastic Beast cup. Who would’ve thought the X-Men paired as well with pizza as the Ninja Turtles did? 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula THE VIDEO GAME

Man, seeing this ad made me remember how Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula was everywhere. It truly was considered a “blockbuster” in its time. I recall seeing that “gargoyle” Dracula head plastered in every comic, magazine, billboard, bus stop and movie theater for months. I even spotted toys of Dracula in his red armor and “wolf” form at my local Suncoast video. But being in my “afraid of everything” phase there wasn’t a chance I was going to see this movie anytime soon. I didn’t find out there was a video game for it until ages later. And growing into a monster fanatic I had to play it. 

I remember it being about as “good” as the film. I don’t know what the general consensus of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is. I sat down thinking I was about to watch the ultimate Dracula film experience. And although the sets, costumes, and effects were all top notch…I felt pretty unimpressed when it ended. In the same vein (ha!) The game was nothing special either. The ad boasts “photo-realistic graphics” and “awesome soundtrack”. I’m sure they’re referring to the Sega CD version, while I only played the Super Nintendo game. The ad challenges me to “Play It If You Dare” and I suppose it did what Dracula is known to do…suck.  

There’s actually a better version of this game called Nosferatu released on the Super Nintendo in late 1995. I never heard about it until I ventured into emulating. The only negative is knowing I’m not playing as Keanu Reeves. That being said, the Dracula “gargoyle” head and title design still gives me the heebie jeebies. That’s great design work. Just wish the movie could’ve lived up to that. 


Well, that’s another installment of Ad Nauseum in the books. What’s that? You enjoyed that more than you thought you would? Well, you know what? I thought you just might. 

And you can always find articles on the remnants of comic culture right here on ChrisDoesComics. What am I talking about? Oh, you just let me worry about that. Just don’t forget to leave your empty sweet tea glass by the sink before you go. Pardon? Oh, that’s right, your ankle chain. Let me just grab the key. 

Ad Nauseam: Wizard Magazine #78

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Look! Up on the internet! It’s another installment of Ad Nauseam: tediously long articles where I take the form of an elderly man sharing his geeky recollections of “the good ‘ol days” that nobody asked to hear! It’s been a while since I buckled down to write one of these, so I figured my subject matter better have quite the fat to chew. And our issue today is nothing short of obese, folks. I mean, I can practically hear it wheezing.  Let’s set the scene for February 1998:

You’re bummed on the bus ride home from school because your Tamagotchi died for the sixth time this year. As you prepare to get off on your block, Josh the bully, compares your body shape to that of a Teletubbie. Embarrassed, you scurry off with clenched fists. It’s Monday, so you look forward to a new episode of WCW Nitro to cheer you up. You get home and open the door to your room, admiring the new “I Want To Believe” X-Files poster you bought at Spencer Gifts last weekend. You carelessly throw your backpack to the floor, pick up your Gameboy, and fire up your newest savepoint in Pokemon Red. The music of the Spice Girls hum from your clock radio. You hope they play some of The Offspring next. Nope, it’s Alanis Morissette

Frustrated by the sleeping Snorlax ignorantly blocking your way to Lavender Town, you turn off your Gameboy and decide to finally study. But just as you’re about to open your backpack you spot the newest issue of Wizard Comic Magazine on your nightstand. You begged your mother for it, just as you do every month, during another insufferably mundane grocery store trip. “Homework can wait” you think as you delve into another issue, losing yourself in a world of halftone fantasies where you always felt more accepted.  

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Wizard Magazine #78: February 1998 

Wizard was a monthly magazine about comic culture featuring news, previews, and interviews. It boasted price guides, advice columns from industry professionals, and contests packaged in its own slew of offbeat humor. It was also a spotlight on the comic community with monthly sections showcasing fanart, costumes, collections, polls, and reader mail. It ran from July 1991 to March 2011. To admit that “Wizard Magazine was my bible” would be a severe understatement. From my preteen years until my early twenties, it was a respite from the norm. This was long before cinematic and television “universes” and the ability to connect through social media to discuss them all. This was a time where mentioning “Iron Man” was met with blank stares, collecting action figures was a dark hidden secret, and no one noticed you quoted Yoda in your cover letter. 

You can download a PDF of this entire issue here! Although I don’t remember having this issue in particular, you bet your bippy I transformed into my childhood self (sans a Godzilla ‘98 shirt) thumbing through it’s digital pages. Understand this is a 200+ page magazine. I’m not going to cover every advertisement offered. I’m certain that would kill me. But I did cherry pick what I could gab about most complete with bad jokes and embarrassing childhood memories. I recommend reading this while sipping your favorite beverage from a Disney Animal Kingdom McDonalds Collectors cup for a true 1998 experience…

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Tomb Raider II Video Game 

Looking back, it’s sort of wild realizing nearly every male with a Playstation crushed hard on a video game mascot that looks like she’s made out of cardboard boxes. But that’s Lara Croft, baby. Of course, as video game consoles progressed to increase polygons, Lara increased on the Babe-O-Meter. But even in the early days of Tomb Raider, she was still viewed as the sex icon of gaming. Maybe if Samus and Zelda wore some booty shorts and showed off the midriff they’d be in the same discussion? I was aware of Tomb Raider even though I had yet to play the games, and that’s mostly due to seeing ads like these…which involved Lara in some sort of cheesecake-pinup-pose. They certainly get your attention…but, at the time, I didn’t know what these games were about.   

If you never played the Tomb Raider games…imagine an Indiana Jones adventure presented through a mosaic filter…but the protagonist is a rich British babe…and she controls like Frankenstein. Take note this wasn’t just Tomb Raider II…this was Tomb Raider II starring Lara Croft. The character had become so hot that her name became part of the title. And, on top of that, she was getting her own action figure just 2 years after her initial debut! Sure, she ended up looking like Michael Jackson’s mugshot, but it was the only way you could finally wrap your Dorito crusted fingers around a real physical Lara Croft. She’s at her peak, boys. And it’s simply not the late 90’s without Tomb Raider. 

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Wizard World Chicago ‘98 Convention

Besides magazines, Wizard also held some of the largest countrywide comic conventions in the 1990s through the 2000s. Chicago Comic Con started back in 1972 and was purchased by Wizard in 1997. Rebranded as “Wizard World Chicago”, it became the homebase for Wizard Magazine and its award ceremonies. It grew to the third largest pop-culture event in the country, only behind New York and San Diego Comic Con. The first comic book convention I ever attended was Wizard World Chicago (though I was late by a couple years to this particular con) and it was something that rocked my fandom to the core. It was as if the world I had been reading about came to life and charged me money to go inside of it. And although I’m used to paying to go inside things, I always got more than my money’s worth in terms of fond memories and special moments when it came to Wizard World..  

With this ad, you can’t get more “1998” than Todd Mcfarlane’s dramatic mystery face. The guy practically was the comic industry at the time (for better and for worse). Spawn disappointed us all with his big silly Hollywood movie the summer prior yet was still hotter than Hell (ha!). Mcfarlane’s toy company was busting out affordable collector figures with detail like we’ve never seen before. And Image comics was puffing out its chest to bigwigs like Marvel and DC boasting some of the most popular comic characters at the time (#YoungbloodFan4Life). Nowadays, unfortunately, Todd Mcfarlane has been less “let’s revolutionize the comic industry!” and more “My mouth writes checks that my ass can’t cash!”. There was a time where I daydreamed about being this guy…but now I sort of treat him like grandpappy saying racist things at the family Christmas party. Smile and politely excuse yourself.  

Believe it or not, this was a time when comic book conventions were about the comic book industry. A big convention like this would cost you $10 a day or $25 for a 3-day- pass. And you could actually walk around once you were inside. Today, a comic convention is an event in which you put a 2nd mortgage on your house to wait in a line for 16 hours to get a picture with one of the kids from The Stranger Things. It’s worth the “likes” though, isn’t it guys? 

I’m not bitter you’re bitter.  

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Toyfare Magazine Ad

Imagine Wizard magazine but it’s 100% about toys. That’s Toyfare magazine. It’s published by Wizard, so it literally has the same flare, humor, and layout. In fact, I used to get these magazines mixed up all the time. The main difference? I would never buy Toyfare Magazine. Why? Because I was too embarrassed! I could never convince my mom to slap down some hard cash for a subscription, so all my copies of Wizard came straight from the grocery store magazine rack. And this was before the days of self checkout. At the time of Toyfare I was clearly a boy that was approximately “Too-Old-To-Play-With-Toys” age. So the embarrassment of walking up to the cute checkout girl and give her five bucks in exchange for a magazine exclusively about spandex clad plastic people was too much for a shy nerdy 13 year old to handle. 

I had to quickly rifle through the magazine in the store. Quickly scanning each page and absorbing it’s information like a Johnny Five robot obsessed with capitalistic garbage. I had no time to be taken aback by surprising figure releases. Excitement was saved for a safer time. My precious moments were spent cementing release dates in my brain for action figures I pined for. Triple H Wrestlemania 16 Attire? Summer 2001. Now Playing Series 1 Darkman figure? Spring 2005. Scanning. 12 inch Power of the Force Boba Fett with real cloth costume? February 1998. All this data processing being absorbed before my mom waltzed around the aisle with her grocery cart. When she entered within range to command a “C’mon, lets go…” little did she know my knowledge of future action figure releases increased tenfold since we entered the store prior. I had an updated list of future figure daydreams. I could not simply abandon the mission. The future of creating new and robust playtime adventures was at stake. 

I’m pretty sure typing that reinstated my virginity. 

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Julie Strain Posters and Lithographs

I decided to include this ad for several reasons…the first being it’s colorfully ugly…the second being I don’t understand what any of it means…and the third being it features an awkward looking Mark Hamill drawing. It’s three ads in one. Each one being more confusing than the last. So let’s try and make sense of this together…

After some research…Julie Strain was a Penthouse babe in the early 1990s. Think of Penthouse as Playboy’s younger not-as-classy coke addicted brother. And if you really wanted to bring that “sexually frustrated” aura to your room , you can buy some racy original artwork featuring her likeness. But if your parents believe the “Miami weed dealer” aesthetic has no place in their house …well you’re in luck! Because artist Rob Prior replaced all that nudity with 90’s sci-fi fodder! We have some laser guns, Vampirella attire, probably some power crystals (pretty sure she’s wrestling a dinosaur in one). They’d look great hanging next to your gas station velvet tiger painting. The pinups have a bit of an ugly retro charm to them. As for Julie Strain, she made “headlines” earlier this year by simply being alive. God bless, Julie. 

The two other comics advertised have little to no online presence to be researched. I can find next to nothing on the artists either. The “Lost Heroes” comic starring Mark Hamill is pretty interesting because, despite being a futuristic setting featuring demons, Hamill is just drawn wearing a t-shirt on every cover. It’s clear they reached out to license his likeness for marketability, and Hamill just sent them 4 modern 8×10 headshots and cashed the check. 

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Hangar 18 Toys & Collectables 

Wizard issues often featured some ads for “local” businesses such as this one. Of course, with this magazine being nationwide…”local” was a matter of opinion. Although I can’t recall ever seeing a store from my neck of the woods, I still loved seeing what others had to offer. Take “Hangar 18” of Wichita, Kansas offering a peripheral “Who’s who” when it came to a 1998 toy aisle. Star Trek, Babylon 5, DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Spawn. Also Puppet Master showed up for some reason. Who invited that guy? Do you kids notice anything peculiar? There’s no website! No pre orders either. If I wanted that Violator action figure, I had to call that number, get mailed or faxed an order form, send it back with payment, they process my payment, and finally ship my toy. The whole process could take months. With no guarantees if it would still be in stock either. A Violater of my time perhaps! 

Out of all the figures offered in this ad, I believe I only had a handful of Star Wars “Power of The Force” figures. The electronic X-Wing pictured here was a birthday gift I cherished way longer than necessary. It was possibly one of my favorite toys growing up. I looked up “Hangar 18” and, unfortunately, they no longer exist. What’s sad about a lot of these “pre-internet” businesses is there’s no sign of them existing unless you came across a random ad such as this. A couple years back I bought a couple dozen old Fangoria horror magazines. It was disappointing looking up so many of the “Cult Video” businesses advertised with virtually zero acknowledgement of their existence. Besides these little physically printed nuggets, the internet has been a broom to their footsteps. So tonight, my homies, pour out some Patron in remembrance of your favorite forgotten collectable store. Word up, my brothers-in-plastic-articulated-arms. Your essence lives with Wizard.


 As absolutely syrupy as this sounds, Wizard Magazine was much more than a magazine to me. It was a ticket to another world I’d visit a few hours a month. A world where my interests and hobbies were not insulted or looked down upon…but instead celebrated. An issue of Wizard was always carried in my backpack or messenger bag throughout my life. And it’s a piece of media that has very much shaped the man I am today in too many ways to list. In the words of Egon Spengler “print is dead.”, so the need for this magazine to exist in modern society is moot. But that doesn’t mean I can’t miss what it was. 

To be real, I enjoy looking back as a hobby. Nostalgia is a fun thing to experience from time to time. I haven’t looked through a Wizard since it was currently in publication. And going through this particular issue really gutted me. Every page brought a flood of memories back in a way that no “Ad Nauseam” article had done prior. This was a really bittersweet experience. And I don’t think I can go through another Wizard issue for a while. I’m a person thats always been about moving forward. But nothing has quite sent me the message of “The Past is Dead” like this issue and article.

Thanks for cracking open a 22 year old magazine with me. You’ll always find articles on the remnants of comic culture right here on ChrisDoesComics. Now, excuse me, I have to go purchase some LR44 batteries. My Tamogotchi isn’t just going to revive itself now, is it?

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