Through the years, DC Comics has published innumerable house ads, highlighting new books, or changes in existing titles. Many of these have been memorable (here's one advertising our good friend Steve Savage, the Balloon Buster's book at the time), and some I'd consider 'Hall of Fame'-worthy. My one rule for a Hall of Fame house ad is simple: did it directly lead to me buying the book, either new on the shelf or by hunting through back issue boxes?
One of my favorite house ads was for the title 'Mazing Man. I consider 'Mazing Man to be something of a masterpiece by series creators, writer Bob Rozakis & penciller Stephen DeStefano. This series presented readers with episodes, humorously & poignantly, in the life of a Queens, NY neighborhood, whose residents' lives were touched by the presence of a strange (possibly deranged), but good-hearted little man dressed in a DIY hero outfit & going by the name, 'Mazing Man. 'Maze's title was a unique comic that had a tragically short run - 1986 was the year of The 'Maze, as the book ran from January of that year and ended 12 issues later in December (3 annual specials followed in 1987, 1988 & 1990). The book, in a way, was part of a long tradition of humor titles DC had published since the 1930's, but this one was different. It had heart and a self awareness other humor comics in the past lacked. It was a modern title, made for the 80's and tackled seemingly mundane, everyday issues confronting everyday people ('Mazing Man, aside).
The house ad introducing the book appeared in various DC Comics with the same cover date as 'Mazing Man #1, Jan. 1986 (the above scan came from Green Lantern #196). The ad made a big impression on me: the 8 year-old accustomed to flipping by ads depicting various muscle-bound Hulks or bodacious babes stopped short at the image of a mock-up cover to issue #1 under the slogan 'In this crazy world we all need a friend like . . . 'Mazing Man' Who doesn't? At the bottom of the ad the copy reads, 'DC. We've made comics fun again.' This was significant and must have been a breath of fresh air to readers who at the time may have been overwhelmed by the violence and grittiness of the vigilante adventures that were increasingly the norm from comic companies both major and independent.
|My 1st issue - a well-loved, dog-eared copy of 'Mazing Man #7|
|Slice of life stuff that 'Mazing Man did so well - set up for the night out; Brenda and Eddie can't agree on B.'s new hairstyle|
|Denton meets a brick-wall-of-a-bouncer; these panels were opposite a house ad for Angel Love, a new attempt at an old genre (romance)|
|Stephen DeStefano's superb storytelling - Guido & friend renew a rivalry|