Anyone that lived through collecting comics in the early ’90s (or listened to the Knightquest coverage over at Hey Kids, Comics! hosted by Andrew and Micheal Leyland) will be familiar with the mail order ad that appeared in just about every super-hero book I have ever seen from that era.  The company’s name changed over the years but by the time Doomsday rolled around it was called American Entertainment and its “job” was to get you to buy the latest “hot” comic.

The Superman books hardly ever appeared in this ad.  For the bulk of 1989 the company promoted the Batman titles and then moved on to the X-Men and Spider-Man when Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane soared to near rock star status.  By the time this particular ad saw print American Entertainment was still big on the X-Men but were promoting Image and Valiant Comics as well because those were the previously mentioned “hot” comics and by “hot” comics they really meant, “these are comics that will (supposedly) be worth money some day so you really should buy them now because you can then sell them later for a huge mark up like we plan on doing!”

Ah the speculators.  One part of why the comics industry crashed in 1993.  Not the sole reason but an important ingredient in that messed up stew.

It took Superman dying for him to actually make it into an ad and here is what that looked like.

With the exception of Superman: The Man of Steel #17 those prices aren’t that bad.  Two of them are fifty cents above cover price while the others are only twenty-five cents more than you would pay on the stands, which isn’t much of a mark-up.  Also you get twenty percent off, so they are slightly less than cover price.  Then again you have to factor in shipping costs so the final price goes back above what you would pay at the shops or on the newsstands

Wow, I just talked myself out of thinking that these prices were decent.  And you got to see it happen.

Whatever the case the prices, now that I really look at them, are not unreasonable and if you lived in an area that didn’t have a comic shop close by this may be the only way you would be able to get any of these comics.  Then again I remember Chase, former co-host of 2 in 1 Showcase, telling a story about his experiences with American Entertainment, which you can here all the way back in their fourth episode.

Be warned…the story is a bit heart breaking.

Next time: Something really cool.  Actually the start of something really cool because it is going to take me a few days to post everything.  It is awesome though so stay tuned.

More to follow…

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  1. Tom Panarese says:

    American was located about an hour or so north of where I live now. I believe they’re no longer in business, however–probably crashed right along with the market. I remember placing one order with them back in the early 1990s but then sticking with Mile High Comics for my mail-order comics needs.

    But that one order got me their monthly catalogue, which was basically an expanded version of their ads. Everything was HOT!

    And btw, I love the “limit 5” on PITT #1. I’m sure that’s not a problem these days.

  2. I remember going through American Comics for the entire set of the die-cut “Return” issues.

    And then… waiting… and waiting.

    I got the issues from a newsstand, and nearly two months later the order came in, giving me extras.

    I was going to buy my first car with the money from those books… that didn’t happen. I ended up giving them to my brother.

  3. Dan North says:

    Dude, Valiant Comics is actually incredibly awesome.

  4. It was. I know this. They were mentioned only because AMERICAN ENTERTAINMENT pushed them as HOT comics. Just because a book was HOT doesn’t mean that it was bad.

  5. Dan North says:

    Are you sure? Most of the “Hot” comics were pretty awful. I think Valiant and the Ultraverse were the only exceptions to that rule.

  6. Jose A. Rivera says:

    Oh my god! I remember American Entertainment! I used to look forward to that catalogue coming in the mail all the time. In fact, it’s how I got my copy of Superman # 75.

    When it finally came in the mail, I ripped open that red and black bag, read the issue, put on the arm band and hung up the funeral poster on my wall. It sucked knowing that Superman was going to die but I loved seeing he went down a hero.

    Seeing this ad and reading that name brought back so many memories!

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