Here It Is, Kids! Newest Kenner Fun Catalog (Comic Ads #51)
Why is this catalog so important? Read on and find out.
|Comic Ads are more than just the mountain of Hostess Ads we know and love. Over the years, many a company has used one page comic ads to shill their products in the pages of comic books! So I thought I'd do a list series that showcases those ads, and shows you what issues I've found them in. To me, these are as much a part of comics history as any superhero, and I love 'em for the nostalgia they bring. I hope they do the same for you. Enjoy.|
The Kenner Fun Catalog was a seventeen-page ad insert that I found in Gold Key's The Inspector #3 (see the list). It's all comic ads, and I have now featured every one of them in this Comic Ads series (including Duke The Super Action Dog, which I had found in another comic before I found the Fun Catalog). I'm sure The Inspector isn't the only book the Fun Catalog appeared in, so this list is serving two purposes:
- To list all the comics I find the Fun Catalog in, and
- To talk about the Fun Catalog overall.
I was just geeked to find all these ads in one place, even though most of them are not all that exciting. However, a) I'm looking for all comic ads, not just exciting ones, and b) the more I looked at this one, the more I saw it as incredibly important. It's not important because it was selling toys. It's important because it's a sign of the times- the 1970's, I mean.
A little over three years ago now, I responded to an interesting topic by RoosterCogburn, called Do you think John Wayne was racist? You can follow the link to see it, or click on the spoiler block, because I'm using this as an excuse to copy it over.
|Do you think John Wayne was racist?|
Excerpt from his Playboy interview in 1971 where he was talking about the current Civil Rights movement going on in America:
And when asked about how blacks can address the inequities of the past:
@RoosterCogburn: I'm no expert on the Duke, but keeping in mind that 1971 was not a politically correct time, the first quote sounds like a badly worded way of saying he didn't think people should be given breaks and opportunities simply because of their skin color. I think "I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people...." is more the heart of what he was saying, and I think he meant "irresponsible people" in general, not that "blacks = irresponsible people."
I think the second quote is absolutely true, but shows both an ignoring of history (not ignorance, but ignoring) and an ignoring of the way things went unsaid but understood. Education is the best way to balance the scales of opportunity between any peoples, but school integration was still a relatively new thing in 1971, and like any other change towards equality, took time to be properly enforced. Having integration on the books as a law is one thing, but getting prejudicial teachers to grade blacks in an equitable fashion is another. I was a child in the Seventies, but I don't think things really began to become equitable until the Eighties.
John Wayne was into politics when he died. I think he's probably a good example of one of those folks who was raised in a prejudicial atmosphere that passed for normal at the time, that had to reconcile that with other things he was taught. Keep in mind: white people aren't horrible ogres that live only for evil, like some comic villain. They have lofty notions of honor and right-and-wrong as well, and those were being taught at the same time they were living in their prejudices. I can't speak for John Wayne, but I can tell you from personal experience of the 70's & 80's, I had to reconcile those two extremes when I was growing up.
My grandfather was a hardworking business owner who liked his liquor and liked the "N" word. Before he owned a business, he was literally one of those bus drivers who said "All N's to the back." My dad grew up seeing that, but became a police officer. As a cop, he had to serve and protect all people - not just white people - so he had to change his worldview from what he had been shown by my grandfather. What I saw was that my dad looked at blacks with more suspicion than he did whites, but he was a fair-minded cop, and I can hardly ever remember hearing him drop the "N" word. From one generation to the next, that's significant change.
I grew up in an odd neighborhood, in a house that sat on the corner of a three way intersection. Down one way, the families were mostly white, with black families at the far end of that street. Down the other two directions, it was just about all black families, so I was thrust into a situation where I had to learn to get along, or learn to fight (I chose to get along). Meaning I had to change my worldview from what I had been shown by my father. Having come into my own during the 80's and 90's, I think I have a much more equitable view of things than my father and grandfather - my one holdback being that I probably use the term "black" as much as "African-American" (I use it more here, because that's what was used in the John Wayne quotes).
I think things in the USA are about as equitable as they are ever going to be. Hatred and prejudice will never be wiped out completely, until Judgment Day. And it's not a one-way street. Latinos, African-Americans and other ethnicities have just as much hatred and prejudice as whites, but it's hidden behind the labels of "righteous indignation" or "a right to be angry," rather than acknowledging it as "hatred" and "prejudice." After all, if we admit that we carry the same qualities that we criticize in others, we either have to stop complaining or change our own ways, and for many, that's hard to do.
I think that John Wayne came up in a time that wasn't concerned about being politically correct, but he had a good sense of right-and-wrong and a desire to be honorable, with which he filtered those prejudices. Those quotes wouldn't be tolerated by today's standards, but for 1971, they show a great stride towards change. He at least represented a white voice that was willing to talk about the issues in a public forum, and that's a positive step towards the changes that needed to be made.
If you didn't stop to read it (and it is kind of long) the summary is this: Rooster' pulled a couple of John Wayne quotes from a 1971 interview, and asked if they were racist. My basic answer was: if someone said the same thing today, it wouldn't be tolerated, but for the time Wayne said them, it showed a great stride towards change and improvement towards racial equality.
You see, in the 1970's, integration of schools was still fairly new, so frankly, blacks and whites were just starting to learn to get along with each other. So along comes 1975 and the Kenner Fun Catalog, and what do you see? For 1975, something pretty amazing. Not only does the catalog show a good mix of boys and girls toys, the ads show a mix of white and black faces in the ads. It's not a good mix, because honestly, the white faces tended to take the lead roles in the ads, but for 1975, it's great that they were there at all. This is another positive step in race relations, and Kenner wasn't alone in this. The catalog is just a concrete example of what was going on all over during the 1970's.
Now, while the ads in the Catalog didn't quite balance the roles between whites and blacks, I ran across something that did a better job of it. There's an ad in the Catalog for Steve Scout And His Friend Bob Scout. Steve is the white action figure, and Bob is the black action figure, so Bob got second billing- again, the Kenner ads weren't quite balanced in this catalog. However, the toys that are shown in this ad all came with mini-comics that starred Steve and Bob, and those did a much better job of balancing the roles between white and black.
In the mini-comics, the cover pages alternated between "Steve Scout and Bob Scout in..." and "Bob and Steve Scout in...," and in the stories, they shared equal time in coming up with solutions to the various problems they encountered. Now, I will say that while they made great strides in showing black and white in harmony, they were blatant about some other prejudices, like the story "Rescue Patrol on Crystal Glacier," where the humor centers around a fat kid they called "Porky." So score a point/ lose a point there.
However, overall, the Kenner Fun Catalog is a great example of the change being sought in the 1970's. For that, Kenner should be praised, and these ads deserve to be preserved.
Here's the entire Kenner Fun Catalog:
And here's links to each of the features:
As always, thanks for reading! -cb
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