5 Vintage Comic Book Ads Of The 80s and 90s

As many of you may know who follow the page’s Instagram, I’ve been working my way through the history of the Marvel Universe for the past three years now. In large part in thanks to the Marvel Unlimited app, and my own collection as well.

As of this writing I’m nearing the end of 1984, so I’m hitting the era of comics when I first started to read them as a kid, I’ll do a separate article on that but I’m going to start a new series here, inspired by retro blogger Dinosaur Dracula, Of covering old and interesting ads from these comics as I go through these four color classics. So without further adieu, let’s get started.

1. The Last Starfighter

This movie really holds a special place in my heart as an 80s kid addicted to video games, in specific the Star Wars arcade game. Just the premise that being really good at video games could amount to something useful like saving the galaxy from an evil alien armada captured my imagination.

I watched the movie again a few years back and it still holds up, though it is very much a product of its time. The effects are pretty great and you can tell at times that they weren’t playing with a Star Wars level budget but the movie is still loads of fun. Think of it like Ender’s Game but set in the 80s and it’s fun.

Also, fun fact director of the film Nick Castle was the original Michael Myers in the first Halloween movie.

2. X-Men Handheld Game

In 1992 I changed my childhood alliegance of favorite Mutants from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the X-Men ever since. Also, for the younger fans, these Tiger made handheld games were the only thing we had on family vacations in the days before the Game Boy. The Game Boy was a thing by the time this X-Men release came out in 1992 but they were still holding on thanks to licenses such as this.

You have to love that Jim Lee Wolverine art in the ad, and the art on the machine itself is pretty rad as well. I’m still not sure to this day why Apocalypse is teaming with Juggernaut in this game, but these LCD games never really made much sense anyways.

3. Star Wars:The Arcade Game

The Star Wars arcade game was the first video game that I remember playing, and it got me interested in Star Wars before I ever saw the movie.

This game was pretty spectacular, recreating the Death Star battle through polygon graphics reminiscent of Tron, complete with a digital John Williams score and tinny sound samples of Mark Hamill and Alec Guinness dialogue for good measure. Bonus points awarded to the sit down version which really brought the whole thing to life. I may just do a separate article on that one so I won’t talk about this too much more.

But this is the ad for the home version, something that I never got to experience in person, but just the fact that I saw these ads made me want it even more, even though I’m sure half the bells and whistles of the arcade version wouldn’t have come across on my Atari 2600 as well.

This ad to me is also memorable because I’ve always been certain that you can clearly see a booger in the guys nose, which I’ve always found hilarious.

4. Nickelodeon Videos

There’s something so definitely 90s about this ad, beyond even the fact that it’s Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, and Doug all featured here. No, it’s the utter randomness here on display that feels 90s. This brings back memories of the pre everything streaming days where if you wanted to watch your shows that weren’t on tv you could either tape them when they were on, or spend $10-15 for a vhs tape with two or three episodes at a time. It seems so archaic these days but that was life as a kid back then.

5. Mario Bros.

This is almost odd to see an ad for a Nintendo game for the Atari, but before Nintendo became a household name just two years after this ad was created, Nintendo was just another video game maker, and the Mario Bros weren’t quite Super just yet.

It was just Mario and Luigi against a never stopping army of turtles, crabs, and more. You may remember this game more from being the mini game in Super Mario Bros 3 that you play against the other player to win extra coins.

Also, I didn’t realize it at the time when I first saw this ad but the jingle here is set to the tune of the theme song to Car 54 Where Are You? A sitcom from before my time but one that I would watch on occasion on Nick At Nite, back when they would show old shows from the childhoods of Baby Boomers and not my childhood.


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