Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In-House Ad Showcase

Hey guys. You know, reprints are kind of cool in that they allow you to get access to stories that you may otherwise never be able to find or afford and with today's trade market driving the industry, the time has never been better to pick up collections of material you've been curious about. But there are things lost when you get a collection or a reprint; the lettercolumn, the advertising, really the whole flavor of the comic itself. And maybe the biggest casualty for comics fans is In-House Ads.

These, of course, are the advertisements that companies would put in their comics promoting over titles or characters in their line. Often these are little more than just a small shot of a cover with maybe a few lines of text. But just as frequently companies would whip up promotional art, graphics and other weirdness that in some cases is better or more interesting than the comics themselves. And sadly, few of these house ads have been given nearly as much attention over the years as they deserve, because really, some of these are real gems.

With that in mind, today we kick off another semi-irregular feature here at The Vault, In-House Ad Showcase, where we'll dig up some of the more interesting in-house ads from the last 75+ years of comics so that fans can get another (or often first) look at some of these rarities and gems.

And what better way to start than with the ad that inspired this feature, a beautiful full-page splash from Jack Kirby advertising Avengers #3? I found this gem in the pages of Sgt. Fury #4, and it's a masterpiece. It's also a bit of a historical curiosity due to the fact that it features Iron Man in his all-gold armor, despite the fact that he actually was wearing his new red-and-gold armor in Avengers #3. Obivously the ad was done before the armor was redesigned. Anyway, here it is:

Next up is an early gem from another classic artist, Barry Windsor-Smith, who made a name for himself in the industry with his gorgeously detailed work on Conan the Barbarian and its related titles. Check out this great in-house ad that I found somewhere on the internet (sorry, I forget where, so my apologies to the hapless dupe I stole it from):

And we'll end with a more traditional style in-house ad, this time from DC. It's got the basic in-house ad style of presenting an entire cover along with some hype text, but what's unusual here is, well, just how awesome the cover and overall effect are. This ad is from 1973, but it's so effective that I just had to guy buy this comic as soon as I saw it -- over 35 years later. And I'm betting that you'll be on ebay with five minutes of seeing this ad yourself. Here you go:

Yes, it's a romance comic about a nun! And the guy hitting on her is a tortured Vietnam Vet trying to deal with PTSD. Don't worry, though, if you can't find your own copy (which I strongly recommend getting), some kind soul has uploaded it to the internet so you can read the whole thing here.

Next time: More Kirby! More early Marvel! More of everything you love about comics!

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I love the old House Ads when I'm reading back issues. It helps me keep in context when the book I'm reading was published and what else was going on in the MU at the time.

How sure are you that Avengers ad is by Kirby? Doesn't look much like him. I'm trying to convince myself Don Heck did it, but it doesn't look like his work, either.

It's probably someone inking/finishing a very rough Kirby sketch.

I'm not sure at all, but I think your guess is probably right. The face doesn't look like Kirby to me, but the pose and the body do. That's definitely a Kirby Hulk face, but Thor looks like... I don't even know. Maybe Joe Sinnott. This is probably a bullpen effort based on a Kirby sketch.