Mail Order Mysteries

A book review article by: Jason Sacks

Everyone who's read an old comic has wondered: just what the heck was a sea monkey? Could Charles Atlas really make a man out of a wimp who had sand kicked in his face? How great is that Polaris sub, really? Did x-ray spex really allow you to see what's under a girl's dress? Was that real dirt from Dracula's castle inside that coffin-shaped clear pendant? Could I really win great prizes by selling Grit?

Thankfully Kirk Demaris has put together a book to solve those mysteries for all of us fans of old comics. The site manager of the website, Demaris has delivered one of those books that any lover of old comics just won't be able to put down. I know I couldn't stop flipping through it.

Each page includes an image of the original ad, a short summary of what was promised and what was delivered (with the customer's level of satisfaction judged), along with a photo of the actual item.


Demaris clearly reveled in the project of collecting dozens of goofy pop culture collectables, acquiring copies of at least photos of all these old wacky pieces of drifting ephemera. Finally I got to see what the real Polaris Nuclear Sub looks like (a tacky piece of cardboard), or what the set of 132 Roman soldiers were like (pretty fun, if you're a young aspiring Frank Miller wannabee), or what an actual issue of Grit was like (endlessly cheerful rural-oriented family news), or, yes, what in the world a sea monkey really looked like.

You probably had some idea of what this stuff was really like, but here you have the opportunity to see pictures and descriptions of it all in one place. It's like a little Wikipedia of pop culture wackiness. Anyone who loves old comics both for the comics and the ads will have a great time reading this one.

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