I’ve been riding that Sonic The Hedgehog 2 high the past few weeks. I decided to revisit some old drawings I did around early 2020. I packaged my conceptual designs for a mock animated series I called “Sonic Spin”. Another “what if?” project where if a certain IP were in my hands, how would I pitch it? “Sonic Spin” would be aimed at very young children riding the success of the Sonic the Hedgehog films. It would be more in tone to the 1993 Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog rather than the overly complicated, often too-serious anime Sonic shows that followed. Sonic has always been a lighthearted fun colorful character. Which is why children are so drawn to him in the first place.
When it comes to my actual designs, I went for a light hearted Looney Tunes aesthetic but also simplified designs as modern cartoons tend to do. Today, you’ll see a lot of classic IPs like Ninja Turtles or Thundercats “reimagined” into a wackier tongue-in-cheek animated direction. It never bodes well with the diehards, but sometimes it can be enjoyable for what it is…even though you sort of question how it got this far in the first place.
When I shared some of these designs via Reddit in 2020, the consensus from the Sonic fan community was “Amazing skill; Terrible take.” And that’s okay. Because it’s also not aimed at them. It’s a silly fast paced, adventure comedy about a Hedgehog and his friends fighting evil robots aimed at 5-8 year olds. Personally, I loved drawing these characters. I would love to see this realized a bit more. One day maybe. #gottagofast
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.
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?
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.
When I read comics as a kid, I always wanted fewer ads so I could have more story. I didn’t care about a two page spread for grape soda since it was butting into Hulk’s smashing.
Yet now, as an adult, I thumb through my old back issues exclusively looking for ads. Perhaps to nip a little nostalgic taste to a simpler time. 9-year-old me may have scoffed at a redundant ad for Super Wrestlemania, yet 20 years later I look for details and analyze it far more than anyone should.
Tonight we delve into Marvel’s Bishop #3.
Bishop is a time traveling mutant police officer that joins the X-Men and has a hard time not killing everything. I bought this comic back in February 1995 at JJ Peppers because Bishop seduced me with his lenticular scarf and logo. Such is life.
Okay. Now let’s look at old advertisements together!
By simply opening the comic you are righteously hadouken’d by a full page ad for the Street Fighter movie. And it’s clear right off the bat that this book desperately wants you to know it’s 1995. If you don’t know anything about Street Fighter this poster makes everything abundantly clear: Jean-Claude Van Damme has to fight Raul Julia on his Dr. Robotnik flying cart all inside of an Alienware computer tower surrounded by onlookers composing of early nineties professional wrestlers.
Though this movie is famously ragged on by both fans of the Street Fighter franchise and people with at least one of their facial extremities, I happen to enjoy this film for what it is. After all, it is based on an arcade game where you can have a flame spitting rubber Gandhi face an anthropomorphic bottle of Gatorade. In what other game can you get bonus points by having a sumo wrestler punch a car into a metal dump heap?
Perhaps I’m being lenient because I simply enjoy images consisting of an overbearing composition of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s face. But when it comes to the Street Fighter movie only one thing is abundantly clear to me: M. Bison’s wardrobe gets an opening credit.
Seriously check that out.
Oh shoot. Things just got pretty real pretty quick. You’re just a few pages into Bishop’s new flippin’ mutant adventure and you’ve already come face to face with Carnage.
So, for those who don’t know, Carnage is a Spider-man villain. And at this time he was at the height of his popularity (just 3 years after his first appearance). What’s made him so enticing to comic fans was that he was essentially an NC-17 horror character existing in a PG-13 world. Imagine merging Charles Manson with a Xenomorph. That’s Carnage, baby.
This ad in particular was for a video game based on his first story arc: Maximum Carnage. It was a side scrolling beat ‘em up that directly lifted panels from the comic in 16 bit form to progress the story. The biggest draw of the game was that you had the option to play as Spider-man or Venom(who was Wolverine anti hero levels of popular in the 90s). Not to mention you could unlock superhero assistance from Captain America or Cloak & Dagger to clear the screen of thugs for you.
This game was a pretty big deal. From the print ads such as this to the creepy vague commercial and bright red game cartridge, it made a point to separate itself from the dregs of previous comic book inspired games. Plus it was really good. I remember renting this game numerous times from my local Blockbuster and playing it until my fingers were raw hot dogs.
Also let’s not confuse Maximum Carnage with Total Carnage when you’re 14 and at the register of a Music Recyclery. Because there’s nothing nearly as disappointing. No hyperbole here.
I also love the secret tip given in the lower right corner of the page. I miss when gaming was like this.
I don’t miss when gaming was like this.
Remember how I mentioned that Maximum Carnage separated itself from the dregs of previous comic book inspired games? Well, hey, here’s one of the dregs I was talking about. Wolverine: Adamantium Rage followed everyone’s favorite uber violent Canuck and not-yet-Hugh-Jackman’ed mutant as he slices and dices his way through monotonous and lackluster gameplay. If I had a dime for every minute spent wandering around some mad laboratory blasting rejected 16 bit covers of Kriss Kross I’d have, like, enough dimes to buy Wolverine: Adamantium Rage.
The ad itself is eye catching and completely enticing. That (now) classic image of Wolverine in pure berserker mode surrounded by squares showcasing such memorable Wolverine foes like: Soldier-on-fire, Silver Wolfman, little boy and Baraka in sunglasses! Plus check out those screenshot descriptions.
Wolverine battles the demon within.
Wow. Is there a level of self loathing and regret in the Wolverine video game?! Like, totally EXISTENTIAL dudes!
Frank Miller’s run in the early 80’s solidified Wolverine as a true comic celebrity. And for a guy who runs around in bright yellow spandex, he’s quite the brooding tormented soul. Which is why it was such a letdown playing this game. It wasn’t unplayable or even especially bad. It was just so mundane and uninspired, which made it completely undeserving of the Wolverine character at the time.
I always loved how some comics cut the crap and catered to their stereotypical demographic: You’re reading comics instead of doing your homework you pimply little spice weasel you.
Enter Cliffs Notes and Clearasil.
Man, if I ever wrote a book about my high school years that’s the title.
Fun fact: Writing this made me realize it’s “Cliffs Notes” with an “s”. I’ve been calling it “Cliff Notes” forever. I guess reading can pay off. This little ad has an offer for the “Cliffs Edge” to receive free study tips and a free newsletter. So Cliffs Notes to Cliff Notes I suppose. Did you know George Lucas has a large library of these little Cliffs Note books? I don’t know what to make of that exactly.
The clearasil ad is interesting. This particular kid pictured has a giant exclamation point in the place of his head made up of how awful getting acne is. I can’t disagree with that. Acne shoots your confidence right in it’s heart. And you know what? Clearasil does nothing. It makes your face feel sticky and smelly. But you can always stick your face into some Cliffs Notes to hide I guess.
Oh my. Skeleton Warriors. Boy, what the heck was this about?
Skeleton Warriors was popular for about a hot second. It had a cartoon, comic series, video game, and a toy line. Compared to the detail and articulation of our current offerings like Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers, Skeleton Warriors were on another level. Another skeletal level. I begged my grandpa for DR. CYBORN one morning during a quick trip to Walgreens. What kid would turn him down? He looked like a Terminator merged with the rotting corpse of Count Dracula! Plus he’s the CYBER SCIENTIST OF THE SKELETON LEGION I JUST LOOKED THAT UP RIGHT NOW!
Judging from the intro of the cartoon show all skeletons are evil (dang) and a group of humans ride neon speeder bikes to battle them. Lightstar is the leader and there’s also a Mr. Sinister looking guy who’s dressed as a skeleton but a good guy? Does he dress as a skeleton to mock them? My favorite aspect has to be the overlaying guitars practically screaming to viewers to please not think of He-Man. Good to hear Dokken’s getting work.
The last line of the title theme is, “They’re bad to the bone!”. You damn right that’s the last line. Because it better be.
The cartoon only lasted 13 episodes. I nor anybody I knew actually watched it. Yet those toys were smuggled in during recess throughout the school year. And Dr. Cyborn got plenty of play throughout my toy career. He went on to battle such greats as Aero Strike Batman and T-Rex hand puppet.
This ad in particular is promoting the “Fleer Ultra Skeleton Warriors Trading Card Line”. And if you can say that ten times fast you are blessed. It pictures Prince Lightstar who is now a prince and wearing a completely unpractical costume. Never did I think “big sharp horns protruding upwards out of your nipples” would be a weapon I would need during the mighty skeleton war. I dig the Skeletor color scheme. Not sure if that was intentional or not. The particular skeleton warrior chosen is named “Dagger” and from what I understand (quickly skimmed wikipedia) he is the clumsy servant that’s comic relief.
The ad claims “Bad To The Bone! January 1995.” Yet just 5 months later the show was boned and buried. Throw me a bone with that last line. I’m sorry.
I don’t know how this show ended. But I can only assume the heroes discovered that if we put our differences aside there is a skeleton deep within us all.
If the Skeleton Warriors ever went on to get as popular as the Turtles or Power Rangers the marketing could’ve went great with making Milk cool. Drink milk to build strong healthy bones and you can become a Skeleton Warrior!
So that about covers the tantalizing tasty tidbits of what you’d find being advertised in Bishop #3. Thanks for reading about ads found in a 22 year old comic book.