Skip to content

Crush your enemies! Kick sand in their faces! Hear the lamentations of their women! – Muscle Ads and Arnold Schwarzenegger

July 6, 2010

One of the fun things about old comics is the advertisements.  I know I’m not revealing some big secret by saying (or writing) that, and I know that I’m not alone in oftentimes skimming through an old issue just to see what wares and services were being peddled inside.  BB guns, model kits, video games, etc. — they were, and some still are, staples of a boy’s life. 

An old standby in comics for many, many years was the muscle ad, and a nigh-limitless variety of muscle-building programs cropped up in book after book after book.  But, unfortunately, they’ve all apparently gone the way of the dodo.  It’s kind of sad that we no longer have the likes of Charles Atlas and his ilk selling us exercise snake oil like “Dynamic-Tension” and 15-minute-a-day programs that will make you a rugged he-man that girls will want to crawl all over.

The North Star of this genre was the famous Atlas ad featuring beach embrassment resolved by the training regimen of “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man” (though I’ve always been curious who bestowed that honor — Good HousekeepingConsumer Reports?).  It was a comic strip in and of itself:

Thank goodness that beanpole got in shape.  It would have been awful for him to lose that fickle bitch of a girlfriend.

Another classic comes from Mike Marvel and his patented “Dynaflex Method”:

The over the top puffery in this ad is really something else, but I most appreciate his claim to build muscles sans exercise.  Dynaflex must have involved witchcraft.  And add “Mike Marvel” to the list of great fake macho names.  I guess “Tank Manmusk” would have been too much — maybe I’ll save that one for myself.

My personal favorite ad is one that I sometimes see crop up in comics from the early 70’s.   It features a young, carefree version of California’s gap-toothed Governator:

There’s nothing too outlandish about this one, but it’s impossible for me to read that testimonial and not hear the thickly accented English that gave us such unheralded gems as:

“Get to da choppa!” (Predator, 1987)

“Consida dat a divoace!” (Total Recall, 1990)


Anyway, it seems that if you follow the Weider program — all you scrawny comics-loving geeks — you too can walk around with a bikini-clad broad propped up on your meaty shoulder.  Dreams can come true!

The list of ads could go on, but I’ll stop here.  And the current lack of these sorts of ads can lead a person to a few conclusions — either the comics-loving public is now filled with hulking Adonises, ads have simply become to0 oriented towards shilling from large generic corporations, or people are no longer gullible enough to shell out money for these lame programs.  From the visual evidence I’ve gathered from seeing other geeks (not me, I’m “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Blogger” — in my own mind, at least) I think I’ll go with one or a combination of the last two.

And one last note — I’ve never seen one of those mail-in coupons clipped out.  So maybe people back then weren’t all that gullible, and maybe our loss of these stupidly magnificent things can simply be chalked up to the winds of change.

[11/14/10 Update: If you want to see the Atlas ad incorporated into a story from DC Comics, check out this post.]

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 12:24 pm

    I so remember these ads along with the ones for Sea Monkeys and X-Ray glasses. I miss the 8Os and late 7Os.

  2. evilunixuser permalink
    June 26, 2012 8:17 pm

    I remember the giant Frankenstein being offered, only to order it and it was a sheet of plastic.


  1. Wear your manly bracelets! – Joe Weider and Arnold « Blog into Mystery
  2. The Fabulous Copyright Infringing Origin of Flex Mentallo – Doom Patrol #42 « Blog into Mystery

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: