Wednesday, September 21, 2016

1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision, Episode X

"Ah ... Star Wars!
Nothing but Star Wars!
Give me those Star Wars.
Don't let them end!
Ah ... Star Wars!
If they should bar wars...
Please let these Star Wars...

— Nick Winters, singing the iconic John Williams theme

I must apologize, because there have been some production delays and cost overruns on Episode X of Papergreat's look back at cool stuff in the May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One." But perhaps the wait was worth it. Today we have two full-page Star Wars-themed advertisements from that issue, for you to enjoy in all their glory.

First up is the above advertisement for the "Terrestrial chapter" of the Official Star Wars™ Fan Club. It's a little hard to take them credibly, though, when they think the R2-D2 sounds can be written out as Bleep-Zhwit-Pling-A-Pling-A-Flizz-Bloop. He wasn't an Alka-Seltzer! That's some droid translation weak sauce right there.

As you might imagine, given the ongoing popularity of the Luke-and-Vader-and-Rey universe, there is a long history associated with official and unofficial Star Wars fan organizations. In just skimming the surface of the "Official Star Wars Fan Club" in a Google search, I found an information and photo-filled post by Mark Newbold on, this page on, and this PDF copy of Volume 1, No. 2 of the club's newsletter (from 1978, via, which delves into one of the early Star Wars controversies — why didn't Chewbacca receive a medal from Princess Leia.

Per this advertisement, the Beverly Hills-based fan club offered the following membership perks 38 years ago: a poster, an iron-on T-shirt decal, a jacket patch, a Star Wars book cover, a newsletter, a membership card and much more. (But not a free set of Ginsu knives.)

All this came at a cost of $5 in the Jimmy Carter era, which would be the equivalent of about $18 today.

While everything about the first advertisement had trademarks and copyrights and language about OFFICIAL merchandise, the above page, hawking Heroes World Superhero Merchandise from Dover, New Jersey, is somewhat the opposite. The text at the top of the page of the page screams DARTH VADER LIVES. But, after that, there are some curious spellings that make me wonder if they were sad attempts to skirt copyright issues. (Also, that's a nice hoodie Darth Vader is sporting.)

The sale items included a Lord Darth Vadar [sic] costume for $4.69, plus shipping, and a battery-powered "SST Lazar Sword" for $7.95, plus shipping. The "lazar sword" is described this way: "Turn the switch and the giant 36 inch laser lights a glowing blue or red — it's all yours and thoroughly tested — safe! The soft plastic tube is battery-operated and with light filter!" (Did SST stand for anything, by the way?)

Other items available included Star Wars books, artwork and blueprints.

Epilogue: In the mid 1990s, Heroes World and Marvel joined forces for a comic-book distribution deal that proved disastrous for the entirety of the industry and spelled doom for many smaller comics stores. In today's robust era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all its associated merchandise (including a reborn comics market), it's interesting to note that the comics industry was nearly dead in the late 1990s, mostly of self-inflicted wounds.

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