Ad Nauseam: Nightwatch #4

Welcome back inside the nostalgic bubble that I’m afraid to leave because change can be scary. But I want you to know it’s going to be okay because I have a Super Nintendo and a VCR.

In this installment we travel back to July 1994 where we gaze at ads featured in between the pages of comic books you could find stacked next to the overpriced Star Wars Micromachines at your local flea market. Worthless paper to some yet a wondrous time machine to others, these advertisements were probably something you skipped over when reading back in the day. But now they serve as reminders of simpler times through sweet sweet capitalism.

NIGHTWATCH Vol. 1 No. 4, July 1994

Our comic in question tonight is Nightwatch. A character with an obnoxiously long and overly complicated backstory, much like the blog posts you’re reading. Born from the pages of Web of Spider-man, his name was Dr. Kevin Trench, who witnessed a superhero die by the hands of terrorists.  When he unmasked the corpse he realized it was an older version of himself! Trench avoided becoming a superhero at all cost, but due to uprising crime, he decided he couldn’t avoid his destiny and donned the outfit becoming NIGHTWATCH.

Got it? Cool. Now let’s look at 24 year old advertisements together!

Disney’s The Lion King

The Lion King is quite possibly the peak of success for what has been coined The Disney Animated Renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid back in 1989.  From music and story to animation and art direction, this movie was A grade all around. Even with my humorous cynical outlook, I really can’t find any way to rag on The Lion King. Even the poster featured in this comic is captivating. It’s like Disney is looking down on every single animated film that came before it…and unleashing a solid tinkle stream upon it.

I remember the trailer being the Circle of Life opening of the film. I recall myself not wanting to see it because “it looked too realistic and boring”.  Of course my feeble childish brain was wrong. I didn’t know of any kid who didn’t see The Lion King that summer. Many use historic moments/tragedies to pinpoint where you were in life at thatmoment in time. I was staying with my aunt in Clearwater, Florida. I had a Lion King popcorn bucket in which the character of Timon was colored too dark of a brown. That bugged me more than it should’ve. I went to Burger King afterward, and my cousin was jealous that I got a Scar toy in my kid’s meal.

So I ask you this my friends, where were you when The Lion King was released?

Castlevania: Bloodlines on the Sega Genesis

I want to live in this flipping advertisement. 

It meets every single credential for the ChrisDoesComics lifetime achievement award: Spooky, 16 Bit Video Game, Dracula is involved, Headline is a Pun. 

The Castlevania series was something I got into at a much later time because I was an enormous baby that was afraid of everything. But I am grateful for getting into it at all. There’s just something about whipping bats and skeletons into flames that just really appeals to me. This installment was exclusively for the Sega Genesis and told the story of Dracula’s niece starting World War I by trying to resurrect him to take over the Earth. Can you smell Oscar? Can video games get Oscars? Can Dracula himself  at least get an Oscar?

There’s a very slim advertisement aesthetic that truly appeals to me, but I assure you, pumpkin farm spook house meets The Undertaker is IT. Finding this Castlevania: Bloodlines ad is like finding the best kind of pizza with no heartburn repercussions. I think I’m in love.

Beavis and Butthead Fleer Trading Cards

It wouldn’t be a comic ad article without trading cards!

What we’re witnessing here is peak popularity Beavis and Butthead. Untouchable Beavis and Butthead, if you will. While certainly a product of its time, Beavis and Butthead followed our titular heroes in various crude and trashy animated “adventures”  often being strung together by the two riffing popular music videos of the time. While it was crudely animated and the humor teetered on raunchy 4th-8th graders, I was the demographic and I thought it was top-of-the-line cutting edge comedy. Also having the show be “outlawed” by your mom and aired on MTV made it insta-cool.

Beavis and Butthead had everything from toys, video games, comics, and coffee mugs to beer cozies,  an album, underwear, and trading cards. I was barred from having any merchandise in its day (I was even reprimanded for saying the word “sucks“).  And though I was never into trading cards in my youth, you bet your sweet bippy I’d try to be sneaking a pack of these into the shopping cart. The series featured 150 cards featuring artwork pulled directly from the show’s animation cells with additional art and text.

MTV actually brought back the show in 2011. It ran for a season and while it was still “good” and refreshing to see Beavis and Butthead riff on modern pop culture, it’s simply a novelty that had its time.

Crunch ‘N Munch Marvel Edition

You like shoveling garbage into your face? I like shoveling garbage into my face too. You know what I like even more though? Getting rewarded for shoveling garbage into my face. And when you think about it, that’s kind of a bygone era. I mean, eating a peanut butter sandwich, a handful of Crunch ‘N Munch, and a Coke for lunch was never a nutritional thing, but if it led to some Wolverine trading cards and a Spider-man hat? I’ll eat that trash everyday. Difference is I can recognize the longterm health problems now.

The 1990s were a time where breakfast cereals seemed to compete for “Most Cavities Created“, Happy Meals still came with a cheeseburgers, and there was no drinkable water only soda. That’s not bragging, in fact, it’s kind of embarrassing. And having ads like this coupled with a soft impressionable child mind may be why my bones have the consistency of Ritz crackers and my pee smells like french toast. And while junk food is still stocked on our grocery store shelves, “rewards” like this aren’t slapped on the box.

That being said, I’d still gladly down a bucket of greasy chicken skin if it meant I can get a cheap Gambit keychain or Darth Vader flashlight. I don’t know if that’s the American or 90’s kid in me.


And just like that, our time together has come to a close. Listen, I really like seeing you and everything…and I realize just how special our bond is over 24 year old comic books ads. I mean, just coming out and saying that gets you a lot of rejections. So I tell you what, sometime soon we do this again, okay? Maybe it’ll be 25 year old ads…heck maybe 17 year old ads. Either way, you meet me right here. Promise?  *Boop!*

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Spiderbites

Spidey
Time Spent: About 4 hours. 

I’m rarely ever happy with how my stuff comes out. So much so that I don’t even refer to it as “art”. See my first sentence? I called it “stuff”.  Though once in a while I’ll look back to see my progress when it comes to my lines, color, composition etc. If you head over to my instagram you’ll see the difference from a similar Wolverine drawing I did in 2012. Is it worth the 6 years of progress? Maybe. But I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I turned to my favorite Spider-man artist, John Romita Sr., to mimic his colors. Spidey will always be my guy.