While conducting "research" for one of my Cover to Cover articles, I came across one of those great muscleman ads that used to pepper comics of old. Sure, everyone knew who top-muscleman Charles Atlas was, but there were a host of Atlas wannabes who walked in his manly shadow, all of whom offered the same promise of huge muscles to the huddling masses of skinny nerds and flabby loners.
But before today, I'd never heard of Mike Marvel and his Secret Dynaflex Method! The ad appeared on the back cover of Marvel Comics that were cover dated February 1965 and, as you can see from the scanned image (click on the thumbnail for a larger view), Mike managed to fit three encyclopedia's worth of hype into three super-dense columns of 2 pt. type.
To save you time (and eyestrain), I've selected a few excerpts that will hopefully tell you all you need to know about Mike Marvel (no relation to Captain, as far as I know).
Mike starts out with the standard strongman pitch, with the prerequisite "secret" method and the claim that the program will require absolutely no exercise or fancy equipment:
But soon after the razzle-dazzle of the opening pitch, Mike takes things in a subtely different direction:
"Manly Beauty"? Hmmm. Uh...well, let's see what else Mike has to say.
Is it just me, or is Mike's mind on something else entirely? But hold on. It gets even more uncomfortable.
Again, maybe it's just me, but phrases like "secretly desires" and "three inches of beef"...not to mention all the talk about crushing, cramming and power-packing...well...let's just say it's not exactly getting me to reach for that $1.98, you know?
However, just when I'm ready to write off Mike Marvel and his overheated hype, he sweetens the deal with a FREE offer that's hard to refuse: The Secrets of Being Attractive!
Imagine...having people "clustering around you breathlessly, while the guys watch enviously"! That's awfully tempting, Mike!
Sadly, since 40 years have now passed since the ad's publication, the Mike Marvel System (with FREE Secrets of Being Attractive book) has most likely faded from existence. But, on some level, it's reassuring to know that Mike Marvel might be standing there right behind us admiring our satiny symmetry. Or...on second thought, maybe not so reassuring.
Shameless Plug! Check out Chuck Nitro, my salute to comic book musclemen ads in my Secret Identity shop. Unfortunately, I wasn't comfortable using photos of any of the actual musclemen (especially since a few of them are notoriously lawsuit-happy), but I think I still pulled it off without them.