Thursday, October 12, 2006

true grit for geeky kids

Vintage Ad #75 - Geeky Boys Sell GRIT!

Today, an ad from a classic comic book advertiser, Grit, which billed itself as "America's Favorite Family Newspaper".

The paper's philosophy was summed up by publisher Dietrick Lamade around the turn of the century:

Always keep Grit from being pessimistic. Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world. Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented. Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry or temptation... Wherever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men. Give our readers courage and strength for their daily tasks. Put happy thoughts, cheer and contentment into their hearts.

According to Grit's official history, the paper reached its peak circulation around the time this ad appeared - one-and-a-half million subscribers in 1969. Over time, it flipped owners, reduced its frequency and evolved into a farm lifestyle magazine.

As a friend noted, it's odd to see that one of the questions asked of potential Grit newsboys is "are you a boy?" Sexism and ageism in one fell swoop! I imagine they didn't want 57-year olds pushing Grit to traditional nuclear families, even if the boy pictured looks like 13-going-on-57. The model changed shortly after this, as that crew-cut was definitely passe by the early 70s (all I have to do is look at my Dad's yearbooks from his first few years teaching in A'burg for proof). This is the nerdiest Grit kid I've encountered, though far from the geekiest...

Also note that it's not tips or a guide that are offered to budding businessmen, but "selling helps". Yes, selling helps, otherwise the kid wouldn't make his 7 cents an issue.

The issue this ad was scanned from marked a milestone for the God of Thunder, as it was artist Jack Kirby's last issue. Kirby co-created Thor with Stan Lee in 1962, intermittently drew the first year of the series, then settled in permanently by 1964. Kirby left Marvel in 1970, heading over to DC to draw, write and edit a variety of series over the next five years, including the "Fourth World" series (New Gods, Mister Miracle, Forever People and tie-in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen), The Demon, OMAC and Kamandi.

Lee stayed on Thor as writer for another year. The series rolled along as one of Marvel's most run-of-the-mill titles until artist/writer Walt Simonson gave it a shot in the arm in 1983.

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