Wednesday, January 23, 2008

vintage teen-age love ad of the day

Vintage Ad #457: Chew Vel-X
Source: Teen-Age Love #70, May 1970

Word placement is crucial when trying to sell a product. The manufacturers of this low-end weight loss aid should have fired the ad designer or the 1930s-era doctor staring into his microscope for continuing to suggest that fattening foods are delicious. I suspect the designer was clumsy when pasting together the Dr. Kildare wannabe, text from the 1950s and a picture of his girlfriend from their Florida vacation three years ago.

Then again, the intent might be to subtly convince weight-conscious teens that sneaking a few snacks is OK, which leads to continued purchases of Vel-X to reduce extra flab that never quite disappears.

Also note the very small print near the bottom of the middle column that "your own experience may, of course, vary." Gullible readers were too exhausted by the sheer volume of text used in this ad (or the repetition of "thousands" of users, who were actually Lily and Janice Thousands of Cedarhurst, NY) to catch this important tidbit.

Teen-Age Love lasted 96 issues from 1958 to 1973. In her survey of female-oriented comics, From Girls to Grrrlz, Trina Robbins doesn't speak highly of the large number of romance titles Charlton churned out. "Each issue gave the impression that, after having blown their entire monthly budget on a beautiful cover, the editors parceled out the interior pages for peanuts to various talented high school student relatives of the staff. On top of the bad art, Charlton used mechanical lettering, which contributed a chilliness to their pages." In Charlton's defense, many of their artists had hung around the business for a long time, but low pay rates didn't induce sterling art (though the loose environment allowed artists like Steve Ditko to thrive).

The lead-off story in this issue is Tenderfoot's Kisses (artists: Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia). Ruth's father has talked for years about Jim Gaffney, his best friend during the Korean War. The Gaffney family moves besides Ruth's family. Among them is young Ted, who had no social life in his old home town and is jumpy around horses. Ted soon discovers Ruth's friends grill a mean steak. Ruth discovers "as I get to know Ted better, I like him better..." and is thrilled when the Air Force wannabe invites her for a plane ride (even though he doesn't go up with her). Ruth proceeds to have an awkward encounter with former flame Monte, which doesn't please him one bit ("I'm gonna fix his little red wagon, honey! I'm gonna make him crawl...then you c'n have what's left!"). The inevitable confrontation between Ted and Monte occurs, where it appears Ted has picked up dear old Dad's commie-fighting skills. Ted earns a cowboy hat. Cue a silent kiss.

End dialogue:
TED: How do I look doll?
RUTH: You are the greatest, dude...absolutely boss!

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