Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!By Kirk Demarais
Afterword by Jesse Thorn
There's a visceral thrill that comes with cutting out an order form, be it from a comic book or cereal box, filling it out, writing out a check to cover the costs involved (or, um, asking your mom for a check) dropping it in the mailbox, and waiting 6 to 8 weeks for whatever it is you ordered to show up...say, the retro Cap'n Crunch t-shirt you ordered after collecting 4 proofs of purchase from boxes of Peanut Butter Crunch. Sometimes its fun to laugh in the face of internet shopping and instead spend your time locating the good scissors, your stash of Kool-Aid points, and a postage stamp, whatever that may be, in order to have merchandise arrive at your door in a less-than-timely fashion.
In Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Books Ads! by Kirk Demarais and afterword by Jesse Thorn, the glory days of mail-order products are explored, gleefully collecting samples of junk kids wasted their money on. The book spans generations of mail-order goodies, from classics like X-Ray Spex to more modern “holy cow I remember those!” items like Triple-Flips. Full-color reproductions of the ads are enhanced by the presence of the actual items in-hand, illustrating stuff that was either exactly what you expected, like the glow-in-the-dark Superman Kryptonite Rocks, or chintzy little swindles, like a typed sheet of instructions on how to put tinfoil on your eyelids to create “flashing eyes.”
The book also highlights some lesser-known oddities, like a chick incubator (complete with fertilized eggs) for hatching your own baby chicks, a pendant full of genuine soil from Dracula's Castle, and a 45 featuring an unauthorized song called “Nobody Loves The Hulk.” While there are some notable omissions (seriously, the '80s and early-'90s were all about the Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse, which is ignored), this is a coffee table book geeks over 30 will enjoy, no self-addressed stamped envelope required.
Purchase your copy here.