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ISSUE NO. 602
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XComing... Super Attractions!

Early comic book advertising was a slapdash affair. Ads were usually treated like crude after-thoughts, and regarded as little more than filler. Ad "campaigns"? Forget it! In fact, it was rare if even two ads ever matched. That is, until "Coming Super Attractions," the comic book industry's first-ever cohesive, sustained advertising campaign.

The "Coming Super Attractions" ad series was created by Mort Weisinger (pictured right) and DC's legendary in-house designer Ira Schnapp, designer of the logos for most of the Superman line of books, which Weisinger developed and edited.

The CSA ads all had a slavishly consistant look: they ran under the same banner headline, they used title logos and text instead of images, they all had a black or star-filled "universe" background, and they all advertised titles in the Superman family. In an era when comic book ad campaigns of ANY length were unheard of, the ground-breaking CSA series ran for six consecutive years, from 1959 to 1965 -- a testimony to Schnapp's incredible versatility, and Wesinger's powerful marketing skills.

This issue of DIAL B, we begin a 21-part, comprehensive look at the Coming Super Attractions ad series, and the psychology behind it. We're not collecting the "best" ads -- we're going to try and post ALL of them! We may have missed one or two. We've got a lot to see, so let's get started right away...

MAY 1959
Here's the first-ever "Coming Super Attractions" ad, which ran in Action Comics #252, May 1959 (featuring Superman introducing Supergirl to the world). The comic books mentioned are Action Comics #252 (the issue the ad ran in), Adventure Comics #260, and Lois Lane #9. In this very first ad, we see signs of themes to come. In "The Kents' Second Son," Clark is replaced by another child, and in "The Most Hated Girl In Metropolis," Lois Lane loses her popularity seemingly overnight.
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JUNE 1959
In the second CSA ad (seen below), the modular nature of this campaign becomes apparent. Layout-wise, it's esentially just a headline and three blank boxes, so once you have a few boxes done, you can mix and match them. The ad below has two new boxes, but the box in the middle is a repeat from the ad seen above with new coloring. Notice that there are NO IMAGES in this ad at all, only those beautiful Ira Schnapp logos -- great even at tiny size!
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JULY 1959
New themes surface in the third CSA ad (below), including a favorite Silver-Age gimmick: people, in this case Lois Lane, being turned into babies. We also see a Krypton-themed story where Superman's parents return. The book's cover-image, stuck down in the corner and colored monocromatically, is almost unrecognizable from the book's actual cover.
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AUGUST 1959
Below, another image-less ad with a bit less copy, and more emphasis on the story titles. The awkward overlapping problem affecting the second and third boxes has been solved by making every box a unifomly-shaped square. Themes include betrayal, the sudden acquisition of super-powers by a human (Jimmy Olsen), and bizarre rivals.
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Here we see the first IMAGE to be featured prominently in a CSA ad, a wild scene of "Leopard Girl Lois" racing with a cheetah and and a chimp! Sadly, box three has burst its square boundries and reverted back to its awkward "Reverse-L" shape.
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This CAS ad looks like a war between the books logos and their titles! Yet even with three logos and EIGHT lengthy titles to fit in, master designer Ira Schnapp somehow manages to make it all look good. No wonder there was no room for images!
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SEPTEMBER 1959
In the future, say 100,000 years from now, everyone will have a giant, bald head. Or at least everyone in the Silver-Age DC Universe will. Plus, the theme of "being replaced" returns as Superboy is replaced by new character Space Boy, who turns Superboy into "The Helpless Hero."
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The CSA ad below has the same middle box as the one above, flanked by two new boxes. The logos seem to be getting bigger and bigger! And a new theme is introduced: the public exposure of secrets, as in Batman's secret identity.

That's all for our first installement of COMING SUPER ATTRACTIONS. Hope you enjoyed it, because there are TWENTY more just like it coming your way. See you next time, reader!
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BELOW: The CSA format applied to the Superman movie serial!
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