Comic Adverts

***Did any comics other than TV 21 & Valiant carry the advert? If you know, please contact me: retromat 'at' btinternet 'dot' com***

Comics are an excellent source of information about old cereal promotions, and the Luminous Spooks promotion is no exception. The following image is from TV  Century 21 comic for the week ending 21st August 1965 (actually dated 2065, this being an imagined newspaper from the future!).  I received it from Kim Stevens soon after blogging an appeal for information about the Spooks some years ago.

There was a wealth of information here for me to rediscover or to confirm: the year (and month) of the promotion (not 1967, as I'd guessed), the cereal (I had been pretty sure it was Sugar Puffs), that there was a 'spooky story' contest (not remembered at all),  the number and type of Spooks (actually seared into my memory), the 3D Haunted Manor (likewise) and that all the Spooks have names, even the clock (I knew just the names Tilly and Winnie). Why give a clock a name? It would be the exception without one. Why 'George'? How about, because of the expression 'By George, is that the time?', or because it's a Georgian design? Thanks to Kim for those suggestions.

A similar, but not identical, advertisement is shown in this high resolution scan on flickr (user combophoto). A close comparison of these scans reveals subtle differences in the shading in the artwork, as well as in the layout of the content.  I've identified the source of this version of the ad as Valiant comic, a copy of which I have seen, also from the week ending 21 August 1965. Although there is no information with the image to say where it came from, I saw the same evidence of the comic strip (Jack O'Justice, it turns out) on the other side of the page of that issue of Valiant, e.g. the speech bubbles that are just visible around the turrets of the castle TV Century 21 was a large comic, whereas Valiant was standard-sized, so this may account for the differences between the adverts (photographic enlargement or reduction perhaps not being suitable?).

Duration of the promotion

Using information supplied by Kim, based on comic adverts, the Sugar Puffs promotions from the Fish to the Spooks were as follows: 

  • May 1964                Luminous Fish
  • July 1964                Jet-crew training contest
  • August 1964            Roman Gladiators
  • September 1964      Win a puppy or pony
  • March 1965             Scale Model Sports Car (8 models to collect)
  • May 1965                Super TWA Airliner (4 models to collect)
  • June 1965               Tiddlywinks set  (Steve Luker remembers  these appearing after the Luminous Spooks. Old stock, or  perhaps the promotion was resumed?)
  • August 1965            Luminous Spooks

These promotions really were short-lived, no more than two months, it seems. No wonder I managed to get only a few of the Spooks! 

Help needed please!

Are there examples in other comics? Could there be ones with different content, e.g. with pictures of the actual Spooks, cereal packet or even of the TV ad? This may not be so unlikely. You can find comic ads online for the Sugar Puffs Dalek film promotion of 1966. One type shows a Dalek in a scene from the film, with details that seem to have been added by hand. Another shows the Dalek, fewer details, and with no background scene.

There are so many comic titles to check! Excluding those aimed at teenage girls (were any aimed at teenage boys?) and those aimed at the very young, because those seem much less likely to have run the advert, there are perhaps 22 titles to fully investigate. Of course, the absence of an advert in one week does not mean it wasn't carried in another. Different submission deadlines and the availability of space would dictate when ads could appear. For now, I think the focus should be on the weeks ending 14, 21, 28 August 1965. Checking September editions could still be useful, but perhaps at another time. 

I've documented progress so far in the table below. The number of titles to investigate can be narrowed down further, I think. The comics market at the time was dominated by IPC (nearly all under the Fleetway imprint) and D.C. Thomson. We already have the ad from Valiant which is an IPC Fleetway comic. Assuming any further instances within this imprint would be the same, we can take those comics out of the list, reducing it to a more manageable 13 titles, representing 3 publishers/imprints. Over a 3 week period, less 1 for the Hornet edition already seen, that's up to 38 editions still to check! However, finding the ad in just one of the 11 D.C Thomson comics should be sufficient to stop searching further for examples in that publisher's comics (as with IPC Fleetway), so the number of editions that need to be checked in total could actually be much lower, perhaps even as few as 3 if we are really lucky. Anyway, as it says at the top of this section: Help needed please!

Comic titles compiled with help from and wikipedia.

 Title Publisher/Imprint Day of Week Date Checked
(week ending)
 Beano D. C. Thomson   
 Beeezer D. C. Thomson   
 Bunty D. C. Thomson   
 Buster IPC Fleetway   
 Diana D. C. Thomson   
 Eagle IPC Fleetway Weds 21 August N
 Hornet D. C. Thomson Tues 21 August N
 Hotspur D. C. Thomson   
 Judy D. C. Thomson   
 June IPC Fleetway   
 Lion IPC Fleetway   
 Look & Learn IPC Fleetway   
 Princess IPC Fleetway   
 Rover & Wizard D. C. Thomson   
 Sparky D. C. Thomson   
 Tiger & Hurricane IPC Fleetway Mon 21 August N
 Topper D. C. Thomson   
 TV Century 21 City Magazines Weds 21 August Y
 TV Comic Polystyle   
 Valiant IPC Fleetway Mon 21 August
 28 August
 Victor D. C. Thomson   
 Wham IPC Odhams   

  • I've discovered that Ranger comic only started being published the week ending 18 September 1965, so it has now been removed from this list.
  • Editions from August to early December of Treasure, a comic aimed at young children, have been checked by Peter Watson.  The advert was not found, possibly because it had too young a target readership. It and similar comics have been excluded from the list above for this reason.