Calling Dick Tracy!

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Time Spent: About 8 hours

Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy artwork has to be some of the most anatomically incorrect and downright amateur drawings I’ve seen professionally published. Yet there’s a certain charm them.

I decided to reference one of Gould’s flat iconic images and paint it in a traditional sense complete with value and shadow.  About 8 hours of painting throughout the week and I ended up with this.

Dick Tracy is one of the earliest comics I’ve ever read. And the main reason I’d dig through my grandfather’s Chicago Tribune every Sunday. The 1990 film, toy line, and Nintendo game hold a special place in my heart even though they’re proven to be nothing special.

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Some detail work on Tracy’s suit and watch. 

The character was cemented as a personal favorite of mine as a high schooler. I e-mailed the Dick Tracy Museum located in Woodstock, Illinois to ask about visiting hours when I received a reply saying that they were in the middle of packing up and closing shop for good. It made me realize how easily your legacy can be swept away no matter how iconic your creation may seem. When I explained my sadness and fandom the Museum sent me a Dick Tracy t-shirt on the house. It was something I’d never forget.

I didn’t want Dick Tracy to be forgotten. So I always try to show my support whenever I can.

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Ad Nauseam: Fantastic Force #2

Welcome back, Space Ranger, to another “stomping” edition of Ad Nauseam! It’s the only article on the web published at 12:53 PM that features old comic ads likely forgotten for a reason written by someone with arrested development!

Tonight we travel back to December 1994, a time where the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers ruled our televisions and Cookie Crisp rotted our teeth. Also Big Daddy Cool  Diesel was WWF Champion and you can do what you will with that information. Among all the radical comics featuring popular antiheroes like VenomWolverine, and Jughead I present you with none of those characters! Instead here’s a comic I found in a dirty clearance drawer between 2 issues of Witchblade!

Fantastic Force Vol. 1 Issue 2 December 1994

Fantastic Force is a group of intergalactic heroes led by none other than Mr. Fantastic’s son, Franklin Richards. Fantastic Force ran along side Marvel’s first family, Fantastic Four,  for 18 issues (1994-1996). In 2018, You can find issues of Fantastic Force‘s adventures in the 25 cent bin of any comic convention or as a makeshift rug underneath a cat’s litter box. According to the cover, this is their “2nd Stomping Issue!” which is an interesting (non)adjective to use. Not “explosive!” or “exciting!”. Perhaps they have a “3rd Sleeping Issue!”. 

So join me and the little dignity I have left as we delve deep into the mysterious cosmos and spaceways of the world’s greatest fighting team: Fantastic Force! (Wait, if they’re an intergalactic team what “world” are they the greatest fighting team on?)

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Sport Pak

I’m not going to lie to you: This advertisement is the reason I purchased this issue. I mean, there’s some cool stuff advertised here but this? This is nostalgic pornography to me.

For a mere $14.99 ($1.95 S+H) you could become the baddest kid on the playground. As you’ll realize with the following ads, The Power Rangers were peak popularity and merchandise gold in late 1994.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze had faded and the Power Rangers took the preverbal ball and ran with it. Personally speaking, at the time I was completely engulfed in all things MMPR. You know that famous scene from Scarface where Tony Montana is sitting in his mansion surround by piles of cocaine and loyal henchmen? I was like that, except with Power Ranger merchandise and Kool-Aid Jammers.

I had toys, clothes, a lunchbox, and I was even a member of the Power Rangers Fan Club (I used to kiss an 8×10 of Kimberly before school). But seeing this particular ad actually gutted me with a emotional Dragon Dagger 24 years in the making. I could’ve whipped that football at my dog’s head, I could’ve gotten bored with that kickball within 5 minutes, I could’ve accidentally threw that frisbee on the roof, I could’ve chugged chocolate milk for a unique experience through that bottle, and I could’ve lost that sports bag on the 3rd day at school. Sure, it’s just a bunch of  marked up dollar store toys, but that’s the point! An ad like this is why I write these articles.

Power Rangers…you mighty morphed your way right into my heart.

Sweetarts Marvel Superhero Contest

I think I’ve mentioned in nearly every Ad Nauseam article the drastic change of marketing junk food towards children in modern times. You no longer get rewarded with points, prizes, or giveaways. Eating healthy is a reward within itself and that’s the route a lot of these companies have taken as well.  This isn’t a bad thing whatsoever and it does make looking back at ads like this much more interesting and nostalgic. And over the years there have certainly been some interesting and unique techniques to market these treats.

In the ad featured we have Sweetarts which was a personal favorite candy of mine when I was a kid. You mail away a form found on select Sweetarts packaging and you could win to a trip to New York, tour Marvel Comics Studios, and get drawn as a superhero by a Marvel comic artist. Pretty dang cool. Runner up prizes include a ton of X-Men and Spider-man merch as well. My favorite aspect of this ad has to be all the Marvel characters explaining how they became Superheroes. I’d love an alternate ad that would have The Punisher stating, “Get Your Family Murdered…”,  or Ghost Rider explaining, “Make A Deal With Satan…” or Man-Thing mumbling, “Escape from Terrorists After Being Betrayed By Your Wife…”.

Perhaps the kid in the superhero garb could have a gaunt regrettable look on his face. I think it really nails the experience of eating Sweetarts: At first it’s great, then you feel bitter. Kind of like going on Facebook.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on Sega Genesis, Game Gear, And Sega CD!

I never had a Sega console until the Dreamcast. I purchased it used for $60 at a store called the Music Recyclery in the early 2000s. A friend of mine had a Sega Genesis but we rarely played video games when we hung out together. I was a Nintendo kid and concerning The Power Rangers, I had rented their two video games on the Super Nintendo a number of times. I can only describe them as Diet Streets of Rage with some Dollar Store Street Fighter Megazord levels thrown in-between.  But, as a diehard fan, they did the job and were passable games even till this day.

Concerning the Sega versions, the ad pictured shows screenshots of the Genesis game. This version was a Street Fighter-esque fighting game strung together by some cutscenes to present a by-the-mill MMPR story. You picked your Ranger, fought a monster, monster grew, you fought the monster as a Megazord. The Game gear version was similar except, you know, downgraded for the Game Gear. But the Sega CD version? That was interesting. The Sega CD often boasted about it’s “full motion video” which often led to “lazy boring games” and this Power Ranger “game” was no different. It was a full episode of the show. Button prompts would pop up on screen during the fights and you’d press them. Hit the right button you’d get points. Hit the wrong button you wouldn’t. But the video would continue no matter what you did.  So, essentially, you paid $50 for a 22 minute episode of the Power Rangers in 240p. Sure glad I had my Nintendo.

In the video game category, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had The Power Rangers beat.

Double Dragon The Movie!

In 1993 we were gifted the Super Mario Bros. movie by cinema gods. The following year we were to be treated yet again to another game-to-film masterpiece we simply were not ready for: Double Dragon . I find the Super Mario movie to be a guilty pleasure. It’s like Dark City meets Lost World: Jurassic Park in the best and worst way possible. I wish Double Dragon were in the same category but it’s simply not. It’s just bad in a power glove type of way.

Double Dragon is based on the popular arcade game and it really blew up once it was ported to the NES. Your girlfriend gets punched in the stomach by a gang and you either pick Jimmy or Billy (they share the girlfriend?) to karate your way through the mean streets and get her back. And somewhere in time somebody thought that was 95 minute movie material. The T-1000 from T2 plays Koga Shuko, the dime store Gary Oldman villain who transforms into Bib Fortuna, Billy and Jimmy only wear their trademark outfits for 5 minutes, and production made Alyssa Milano at her peak-babeness look like a feminine Eminem cosplayer. It’s also to note that Paul Dini co-wrote this film. And if you understood what that means it’s quite shocking. I seen this film in theaters. I cannot tell you what I thought of it, but I remember wearing a Chicago Bulls windbreaker. My brain functions like Goofy’s jalopy from an old Disney cartoon.

But it’s good to know that a little over a month later we’d be given yet another gift from the cinema gods. Another wonderful game-to-movie masterpiece that human eyes couldn’t comprehend. Double Dragon may have been a financial and critical bomb but I view it as sacrificing itself for the greater good: Street Fighter the Movie. And it’s been a while since I referenced it.

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Gratuitous JCVD muscle cinematography.

We’ve reached the last page of wonderful ads straight from December 1994‘s issue of Fantastic Force: The World’s Great Fighting Team! What literary garbage will I be polluting your eyes with next time? Well, there’s just so many awful comics offered for mere shillings, how can I resist not feasting my eyes on those capitalistic endeavorers and write extremely overblown blog articles that nobody will read? You’ll always find articles on ancient comic culture right here on ChrisDoesComics. Until next time friends!

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Ad Nauseam: Toxic Avenger #3

You can read the last installment of “Ad Nauseam” here. 

The Toxic Avenger No. 3-June 1991

The 80’s and 90’s were an interesting time in American pop culture. It seemed like nearly every license (no matter how grossly inappropriate) was marketed to children in some form. R rated films like Robocop and Rambo had popular action figure lines, video games, and cartoons. Freddy Krueger had his own bubble gum. And I swear The Terminator was a step away from his own breakfast cereal (Cinnamon Furlongs).

Take our current subject: The Toxic Avenger. A janitorial nerd turned toxic superhero, the film was a crude, violent, and campy trip released in 1984 by (now infamous) shlock movie producer Troma Entertainment. It led to a franchise of movies, video games, toys, even a musical! Not too shabby being based off a B-movie that climaxed in a taco joint.

Toxie also starred in his own comic book series published under Marvel. Which brings us to The Toxic Avenger No. 3: Night of the Hardbodies! Published in 1991, Toxic Avenger was standing on his last radioactive leg of relevance. His prior success of meta-camp had run its course and while Toxie was “kiddfied” for his Toxic Crusaders animated series and comic, kids didn’t care for teenage mutant non-ninja people. Especially when they looked like Hulk Hogan fused with a stale green pepper.

But it’s whats on the inside that counts, right? And in our case it’s A D V E R T I S M E N T S.

So join me and this June 1991 issue of The Toxic Avenger (supplied by The Graveyard Machine ) as we crack open yet another “captivating” comic to casually stroll through a cacophony of capitalism captured in time! Thank Christ for Thesauruses.

Battletoads for the NES

Battletoads was great. Battletoads was hard. I love Battletoads. I hate Battletoads. Released for the NES in 1991, Battletoads was a game that positively reeked of ‘tude and being rad, man. As evidenced in this single paged ad, they knock the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and went on to declare that their game “TOADALLY KICKS BUTT!”. A bold move, yet Battletoads backed it up. This was a regular rent for me at Lion Video and when they had to make room for the Super Nintendo games, I was able to purchase the used copy of Battletoads I had rented so many times before.

Even though it had a stellar and popular game series (even a crossover with Double Dragon!) a pilot for an animated series was made in 1992 but never picked up by a network. The backstory for the game is oddly complex (lab techs made a Battletoads game, got sucked in by evil game developer, became the Battletoads to fight an evil queen) but the animated show took a much simpler approach in a way roided out frogs punching in outerspace only could. Perhaps a network didn’t want to bank on something that seemed so similar to TMNT, perhaps Street Sharks and Extreme Dinosaurs were simply better (how?), perhaps their names being RASH, PIMPLE, and ZITZ wasn’t endearing enough to executives.

I do not have these answers. But when it comes to the journey of the Battletoads I think we can all agree on one thing: They had the best pause music ever put in a game.

Disney’s The Rocketeer

In the summer of ’91 Disney released The Rocketeer based on Dan Steven’s nostalgic comic series. Since then its become a bit of a cult classic, and if you were outside at all in the Spring-Summer of 1991 you seen this beautiful art deco poster. The visual marketing for The Rocketeer was nothing short of artful. Posters like the one pictured were paraded on bus shelters, movie theaters, and billboards. It harkened back to suggest a “classier” time of marketing as the poster is not only alluring but could be displayed even if you didn’t care for the film its representing.

As for the film itself? It was okay. I wanted to love it. But I only liked it. Personally speaking, making a film with the flavor of Indiana Jones meets Iron Man sounds like a match made in heaven. Throw in Jennifer Connelly at her peak major babe-ness and a restaurant shaped like a giant Bulldog and what’s there not to like? Well, a decent amount unfortunately. The pacing was bad if I remember.

Disney fully embraced The Rocketeer for that summer. His helmet and jetpack adorned candy, comics, posters, and toys. He even flew into the sky for Disney’s MGM Studios fireworks show! But the film brought in a $6 million profit leading to future plans for The Rocketeer being cut short. Fans could still find little nods to the film in the current Disney Studios theme park but it’s simply not the same. If there’s a property to be rebooted, I’d go all in on The Rocketeer.

Exclusive Marvel Comics T-shirts

I can get myself a Groot shirt in 15 minutes. Yoda? Even less time. I’m not talking about clicking some buttons either. I can get in my car and drive 10 minutes to a Walmart, Target, Kohl’s etc and have a variable selection of nerd shirts for my purchasing needs. In Adult sizes mind you.

It wasn’t always like that.

If you wanted a Darth Vader shirt you had to order one through a Star Wars catalogue. If you wanted The Hulk you had to thumb through new issues, hope they had a design you liked, and fill out the order form. Then in 6-8 weeks you’d get your shirt in the mail. Maybe you had a local comic book store that carried some apparel. That was always a plus. You want a character like The Vision or Black Panther on a shirt? Good luck with that, buddy boy.

There was no insanely profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe or marginally profitable DC Red Headed Step Child Universe. Comics and superheroes were for kids. And besides a Batman or Superman logo on a shirt, nerdy apparel like that was limited especially for adults. Sometimes I have to step back and be grateful. I own a friggen Monster Squad shirt. How would you even begin to go about that in 1991?

So which one of the designs in this ad would you go for? Personally I’d be all over Silver Surfer. He was always a favorite of mine.

So when Spidey tells me to order a t-shirt, I order one. Spidey knows.

3 Musketeers Candy Bar

I always enjoyed when ads in comic books were also short comic books. It’s like a Big Mac interrupting your Whopper for a couple bites. Whatever, you know? I remember M&Ms, Crest Toothpaste, and various cereal mascots stepping into the titular adventure to direct my attention to whatever little BS they were doing. Werewolf By Night was just impaled with an ancient sword by Morbius The Living Vampire but, hold up, Toucan Sam’s gotta open this treasure chest on a pirate ship. Oh, it’s Fruit Loops? Because of course it is.

In the ad pictured we have NOT Indiana Jones discovering a lost Mayan tomb which houses a (historically accurate) giant 3 Musketeers candy bar. I’m not sure if you noticed but it says, “No. 5 in a series” and it really makes me wonder if there’s people out there who collect these ads. Or if there was a kid that was all, “Damn, I missed No. 4!”.

SleepWalker Comic Series

This one really caught my eye. Mostly because I assumed this was a spinoff in which Newt Gunray cosplayed as Skeletor. I have never heard of Sleepwalker but I was intrigued none the less. 27 years later and this ad still works. This character debuted in his own series which ran from June 1991 to February 1994.

So Sleepwalker is actually his race. He exists in The Mindscape. And essentially they’re the dream police. Please listen to the Cheap Trick song when finishing the rest of this article. Sleepwalker was tricked by a foe and mind-bonded with a New York college student and it created an excellent premise for a situational comedy on NBC. So the student goes to sleep and Sleepwalker takes over and fights crime.

That sounds pretty awesome. Cooler than when I sleepwalk but instead of fighting crime I put bananas in the dishwasher. Unfortunately, Sleepwalker doesn’t make many appearances outside of his 33 issues from 1991-1994. So if you’re reading this, that means this can be the character that you could latch onto and form a really underground hipster opinion of. I’m telling you, jump on that Sleepwalker train to coolsville. I did it with Dreadstar and I’m pretty cool (?). I’m spending way too much time typing about old comic ads that nobody will read. Ice cold cool. 

I’ll also throw out some names of 90’s superheroes because there’s space on my website: DARKHAWK, TERROR INC., QUASAR, NIGHT THRASHER, NAMORITA.

So many foil covers.


So that about covers the tantalizing toxic tidbits of what you’d find being advertised in The Toxic Avenger No. 3: Night of the Hardbodies! Thanks for reading my dumpster thoughts about garbage ads found in a 27 year old comic book. I’ll be back with another installment of Ad Nauseam in the future about things in the past. I’m sorry you wasted your time.

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