10 Hilariously Terrible Ads From Old Comic Books

Written by Lukas Kaiser

What’s the best way to see how far our society’s come? By looking at ads from old comic books, of course. Don’t believe me? Check these out?

?Dubble Bubble Gum

Gum ads these days have a simple message–eat our gum. Sure, it’s to the point, but it’s nowhere near as exciting as the Xenophobic concepts expressed in these Fleer Dubble Bubble Gum classics.

I will say this though…I’ve been to the pyramids and I’ve had some 1950s era Dubble Bubble gum and while I won’t just hand it to the Dubble Bubble, I’m gonna have to say it’s a tie between the two.


This one comes from a late ’60s comic. Just as the Karate craze was blossoming in America, crooked entrepreneurs decided to get in on the fun. Thus was born the KARATOK hand power workout system. It’s a glove with a circle around it, attached to springs. The best part is that the ad claims to give you, and I quote, “that ‘bodyguard fist’ that COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE SOMEDAY.'” First off, what’s bodyguard fist (and how can I get it)? And second off, does anyone else see that “save your life someday” part as a veiled threat? Like, the company is gonna track you down from your shipping address and put your bodyguard fist to the test. You better be ready, boyo!

?Lifebuoy Soap

I’ve never heard of Lifebuoy “Health Soap” before, so I’m guessing it didn’t make from the ’60s until now. Possible reason it might’ve failed? Maybe the subtext of this comic book ad explains it all; inside this seemingly regular ad for a soap that stops “B.O.” (according to wikipedia the makers of Lifebuoy coined the term “B.O.”), there are several references to the fact that Lifebuoy no longer smells “medicinal” (from the boy holding the sign that says “The ‘Medicinal’ Oder is GONE!” to the girl smelling the soap and exclaiming “M-m-m-m! The “medicinal” odor is gone!” to the little text box in the lower right hand corner that proclaims, well “the ‘medicinal’ odor is gone). I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Lifebuoy soap must’ve smelled fucking awful. How awful, and what exactly is a “medicinal” odor? Also, keep an eye out for the use of the term “invisible dirt.” Hah! Invisible dirt. That’s preposterous.

?Very, Very Queer Fitness Ads

The archetypical old comic book ad is the Charles Atlas fitness campaign, where the dude gets sand kicked in his face. That ad is funny in a “gosh, gee whiz” sort of way. Now this more obscure fitness ad is far more hilarious. Why? Because it’s very, very gay. The top half of the ad shows some of the queerest poses I’ve ever seen (and the guys are all wearing thongs) and the bottom half of the ad has several demonstrations as to how you can lift and break things using your penis. The copy is even igayer. Choice examples? “Watch those muscles grow and bulge!” “You will be filled with pride as you see husky muscles grow and ripple over your body in paths of power.” And “You can measure your results daily in competition with your friends. The pal who before could handle you with ease, will get the surprise of his life as you handle him easier than he ever did you.” Hell, there’s even a reference to explicit gay terminology (“Enjoy the fun of being ‘tops’ in any company and in any physical emergency”). Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, because there isn’t. But this ad? Still funny.

?Sendaway Beard

Hey kids, are you tired of being 8 years old? Would you prefer to appear like you’re a 43-year-old midget with a mustache, sideburns and a “Van Dyke”? Well, then it’s time to hit up Masculiner Co of East Orange, New Jersey (yes, that’s the company’s real name). It’s amazing that they try to appeal to the kid who’s reading the ad’s possible desire to appear “romantic.” Why would anyone other than a depressed teenager want to appear romantic? I do agree, though, that wearing a fake Van Dyke is rather “impressive.” Totally on the same page with you there, Masculiner Co.


When I came across this ad, I shouted out with glee. Sure, Kabala isn’t spelled the same as the modern day mystical religion of Kabbalah, but it doesn’t matter…the ad for a clearly fake mystical board game totally fits with the Celebrity-driven sect of Jewish mysticism. Also, the practices of “real” Kabbalah worshipers isn’t that different than what goes on in this game. Sure, in “real” Kabbalah you don’t turn out the lights, put your hands on a board and watch a ball spin around a circle. But you do drink mystical spring water to cure cancer and wear magical red string bracelets to cure…well, I don’t really know why they wear those. Regardless, “you are under the spell of Kabbalah! ” Bwahahaha!!!

?Realistic Shrunken Head

I’m not even gonna touch on the possible racism stuff here and just point out the amazing copy. “Something new and startling to hang in your car or in your room. A horrible and unusual gift in a box.” Fucking classic.

?Nature’s Prize Pupil!

This one is simply unheard of amazing. All the old comics had public service announcement type ads, usually about proper nutrition or why you shouldn’t fight with your siblings. Well, this time, the PSA writer was feeling a bit bitter, mostly about how people are always giving credit to nature, how cool it is. Well, fuck that! I mean, sure, a frog can live at 15 below zero, but man can protect himself with clothing so he can live in EVEN COLDER climates! Take that, frog!! It’s hilarious how misleading the writer of this ad is as well…it’s like, sure, a “water ouzel” can stay under water for less time than a guy with an oxygen mask can. But what about a dolphin? Hmmmm…But I do agree in the end that Man is the most amazing thing in all of nature. Amen.

?Snow Storm Tablets

“Just place one of these on the end of a burning cigarette, and watch the snow fly.” Got it. So first I’ve gotta steal some cigs from my parents, right? Then buy these tablets…then smoke up and “watch the snow fly.” K…cool.

?Brotherhood Quotient

This is the find of the century. The first part of the quiz alone is amazing. I don’t want to spoil it with any jokes…this truly hilariously terrible ad speaks for itself.

11 thoughts on “10 Hilariously Terrible Ads From Old Comic Books

  1. Cameron

    “Click for larger image”? What, is that some kind of sarcasm? There are no larger images. A shame, really.

  2. Michael

    Please fix this!!!! The images will not open and it would be nice to actually see them. Otherwise this article really sucks!

  3. forThis.Anon

    Lifebuoy Soap as available in India till probably 15 years ago — was primarily sold as a soap for people whose work involved hard labor – washing away sweat & grime / germs. Hence the health soap and it had its own peculiar smell — not awful but not pleasant and definitely not perfumed unlike most other soaps.

    Then about 15 odd years ago – the smell was changed and there was a huge campaign to reposition the soap – giving the same benefits but with better odor and thus attempting to appeal to a wider audience.

    Guess it went through the same cycle in your country – slightly earlier.

  4. Arvin Bautista

    Haha, those old ads take me back in time more than the comics themselves. That’s why I started my own blog, “The Amazing Spider Ads”, which are the craziest ads that ran in the entire history of The Amazing Spider-Man:


    I just wrote up an entry on the Masculiner ads which are freaking ridiculous

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