Sunday, November 29, 2009

In Which Wondermark is Touted

Yes yes, I know, I promised you a Jell-O ad. But look, this is way more important. Many of you already know of my love for Wondermark; as you can see, it's already linked right down there on the sidebar. I've passed it on to friends. I've fanned it on Facebook. I Tweeted it on Thanksgiving (and even got re-tweeted, thanks very much David Malki!) I have a signed comic on my wall, and a copy of Beards of our Forefathers in my bathroom. (Yes, the bathroom. Shut up. Don't judge me.) But do you know WHY I love Wondermark so, and why you should too? Here are three good reasons:

1. Art. While Malki! can draw—we've seen it happen—the look of Wondermark comes from his massive library of illustrations from 19th and early 20th century books and magazines. It's utterly fucking brilliant. I've no idea how he finds so many pictures of squids.

2. Beards. Malki's obsessed with beards. I can get behind that--as many of you know, I'm quite fond of beards myself. My own ambition to be a bearded lady at the circus was sadly dashed when I showed absolutely no signs of hirsutism from an early age; but I fully support the beardage of others, without bitterness.

3. Shirts. My last order from TopatoCo included what may be my current favorite t-shirt: Steam Powered Heart. Additionally, I had to buy this one for a friend (inspired, of course, by this comic) and this one for another friend. An abundance of riches! I'm giving serious thought to the Bibliophibian Onesie for Jen and Patrick...

All this shameless plugging of course has nothing to do with the fact that blogging about Wondermark enters me in a contest to win a free book. Nothing to see here. Move along. Look, a Jell-O ad from 1923!

(A basketful of happiness? Seriously? Her mom sent her out for groceries, and she comes back with 40 boxes of Jell-O and "happiness"? That's grounds for willful orphaning.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

No Such Luck

As promised, here is the first of several wonderful ads purchased at this weekend's postcard show. I didn't fully appreciate how awesome this particular one was until I got it home, as you're about to see.

This is an ad from the Ladies' Home Journal in 1919--the heyday of entertaining magazine advertising, to my way of thinking. It's advertising a now forgotten brand of soap called "Olivilo" (pron. Olive-eyelow.)

The first mystery to me is why one would market a soap with the word "vile" in the name--I do realize it's trying to evoke the nourishing properties of olive oil, and I can overlook the gimmick that the name's a palindrome, but why put that long I sound in there? It gives me a sense of ick before I've even unwrapped the bar. Also, it's packaged in a black wrapper, which doesn't exactly cry out "SPARKLING CLEAN" to me. Those are basic facets of the product itself, though, so I accept that the pitchmen in Olivilo's marketing department may have been stuck with these problems for some time before devising this particular ad.

The first great thing here is the threat implicit in the image. "Do you believe in Luck?" it asks, in enormously loopy handwriting font, the word "in" squiggling precariously upright. "Do you feel lucky, punk? Do ya? Then try our #%@*& soap!"

Next comes the promise: Fate cannot harm you, if you use this soap. Apparently, Olivilo is the detergent version of a mafia bag man. Among other things, it will protect you from the unlucky influence of the rather bitchy looking black cat who is staring balefully out of the ad with eyes like creepy green footballs. OK, that seems worth a 10¢ cake of soap to me... And hey, at no extra charge you get a sidebar explaining that black cats are unlucky! Except when they aren't.

Thanks, Olivilo, for that fleeting educational moment.

However, the single most spectacular thing in this ad, the thing I didn't even notice until I got it home, was this teeny tiny plug for one of Wrisley's other products--Wrisley's Eau de Toilette. What could be nicer than pleasantly scented floral water, right?

GAHHHHH WHAT THE FUCKING HELL???? THE IMPRISONED SOULS OF FLOWERS??!?!! Holy farking Jesus, who thought THAT would be a pleasant image for potential buyers?? **shudder** It makes me want to buy a bottle just so I can give it a decent burial in my backyard. I can only conclude that Olivilo is truly the soap of the damned.

Join us next time when I deconstruct a Jell-O ad from 1921...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Yes, Yes, I Know.

It's been forever since I blogged. The whole canal thing had me pretty beat, frankly, and then I decended into the hell that is bathroom renovation, and I kept thinking "I should blog about this!" and then failing to do so, because it wasn't done yet. And then it was done, and I was sick of the whole thing. I'll get back to it, the topic is rich with satire--but look! I'll make it up to you right now with this gem from the Postcard and Ephemera Show I went to today with Haywain McTarry.

As most of you know, I love old advertising ephemera, and I have a fondness for particular types of postcards as well. So I was thumbing through the cards at one of the bigger dealers at the show when Haywain said, "Come here, you have to see this card!" I looked, and saw the following unremarkable picture of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and her corgis:

Then, at Haywain's behest, I turned it over.

Of course I bought it. How could I NOT buy it? I also bought some singularly hilarious soap ads from the 1920's, which will be used to decorate the newly remodeled bathroom which I haven't posted about yet. Sadly, they're too big for my scanner bed... but maybe I can use the one at work. Because you deserve to see them in all their ridiculous glory...