First Year Covers #1: Playboy

I’m starting a new series called First Year Covers, the purpose of which should be obvious. I’ll take a famous magazine and share a gallery featuring all or selected covers from its first year of publication. For no particular reason I’ve chosen Hugh Hefner’s Playboy for the first entry.

Scratch that – there is a reason. Aside from all the controversy Playboy has courted almost since its first issue published in December 1953 — and featuring previously unseen nude photos of Marilyn Monroe — many of its covers in the early days are fun and imaginative exercises in graphic design.

So with that out of the way, let’s enjoy a look at the twelve months of Playboy covers, plus a bonus 13th cover to round out 1954. Sorry fellas, no nudity here.

"Out of Mind's Reach" by Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby’s 1973 NFL Artwork Is Fantastic, Trippy As Hell

It’s hard to believe now, but in the early ’70s the National Football League wasn’t nearly as stifled and humorless as it is now. As proof of that, I present these pieces of original, commissioned artwork drawn by the legendary Jack Kirby for the NFL in 1973.

These fantastic illustrations were included as part of the October 21, 1973 issue of Pro!, the official magazine of the National Football League that was sold at every game, in a piece entitled “Out of Mind’s Reach.” They depict, among other things, futuristic versions of NFL players in action. I think my favorite one is for the Packers, who have somehow adopted an aquatic theme. Perhaps Wisconsin has warmed enough in the future to make that a practical move.

"Out of Mind's Reach" by Jack Kirby

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

New York Giants

New York Giants

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers

"Out of Mind's Reach" by Jack Kirby

Wrestling Picture Book - March 1977

20 Vintage Pro Wrestling Magazine Covers

You might not guess it to know me, but I was a huge pro wrestling fan back in the day. And by “the day” I mean the mid to late 1980s, what I consider to be the Golden Age of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It was fun, it was exciting, it was everything a pre-teen boy could want to watch.

Those days are long behind me now, but every once in awhile I pine for the salad days watching strong but pasty guys like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Big John Studd, Andre the Giant, and Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff compete in the squared circle. Oh yeah, not to mention less pasty guys like Hulk Hogan, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, the Junkyard Dog, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

To help remember those wrestling titans of days gone by — as well as some before my time — here’s a gallery of 20 vintage pro wrestling magazine covers featuring these showtime gladiators in all their colorful glory.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated - February 1988

Pro Wrestling Illustrated – February 1988

Wrestling Picture Book - March 1977

Wrestling Picture Book – March 1977

WWF Magazine - October 1989

WWF Magazine – October 1989

Wrestling SuperStars - October 1979

Wrestling SuperStars – October 1979

World Wrestling Federation Program - 1984

World Wrestling Federation Program – 1984

Pro Wrestling Illustrated - Summer 1984

Pro Wrestling Illustrated – Summer 1984

Wrestling SuperStars - Winter 1984

Wrestling SuperStars – Winter 1984

Wrestling Revue - October 1975

Wrestling Revue – October 1975

Wrestling Revue - May 1973

Wrestling Revue – May 1973

Victory Wrestling Annual #9 - 1974

Victory Wrestling Annual #9 – 1974

Wrestling Revue - 1980s

Wrestling Revue – 1980s

Victory Wrestling Yearbook #13 - 1975

Victory Wrestling Yearbook #13 – 1975

Inside Wrestling - February 1987

Inside Wrestling – February 1987

Wrestling Magazine - October 1983

Wrestling Magazine – October 1983

Victory Sports Wrestling Magazine - Winter 1984

Victory Sports Wrestling Magazine – Winter 1984

Wrestling SuperStars - Spring 1984

Wrestling SuperStars – Spring 1984

Wrestling Magazine - November 1979

Wrestling Magazine – November 1979

Wrestling Annual 1972

Wrestling Annual 1972

WrestleMania IV - 1988

WrestleMania IV – 1988

Inside Wrestling - July 1986

Inside Wrestling – July 1986

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Captain Marvel Mechanix Illustrated ad (1942)

Great Moments in Comic Book Advertising, Vol. 2: Captain Marvel for Mechanix Illustrated

I have to say, as vintage examples of cynical marketing aimed at kids goes, this one is a doozy. It’s an advertisement for Mechanix Illustrated from America’s Greatest Comics #2 (Fawcett Publications, Feb/May 1942), and features none other than Captain Marvel himself.

Captain Marvel Mechanix Illustrated ad (1942)

Shazam! Not for sissies!

That’s right young fellas, don’t even think about reading Mechanix Illustrated if you’re a crummy sissy!

OK, so let me provide a little bit of historical context here. Mechanix Illustrated, in case you couldn’t tell, was positioned as a competitor to established magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. It was published by Fawcett, which of course owned Captain Marvel. And lest you think being thought of as a sissy by Captain Marvel wasn’t a big deal in 1942, keep in mind that throughout the ’40s Captain Marvel eclipsed Superman in terms of popularity and comic books sold.

No word on whether or not Shazam himself approved of Commies reading Mechanix Illustrated, but I’ll keep digging.

Puck Magazine Thanksgiving

Time Capsule: Puck Magazine Thanksgiving Political Covers, 1894-1913

Puck Magazine Thanksgiving

Published from 1871 until 1918, Puck magazine was America’s first successful humor magazine featuring cartoons and political satire. Their Thanksgiving covers, while not always political, usually were and are still fun to look at today even if the relevance has been lost to time. Their choice of makes sense when you know that they were based out of New York City. Tammany Hall, which we all heard about in history class but have since forgotten, figures prominently.

Here’s a selection of Puck‘s Thanksgiving covers from around the turn of the 20th century, courtesy the Library of Congress.

Puck magazine Thanksgiving cover - 1894


That’s prominent New York politician David B. Hall, who we’ll see again in 1902. He lost the NY gubernatorial race in 1894 to Levi P. Morton.

Puck magazine Thanksgiving cover - 1895


Tammany Hall was a frequent target for Puck‘s cartoons.

Puck magazine Thanksgiving cover - 1896


That’s newly elected President William McKinley, getting ready to enjoy a turkey carved by Mark Hanna, Republican Senator from Ohio and McKinley’s campaign manager in 1896 and 1900. The “Sound Money” reference had to do with a fierce debate at the time regarding what would back U.S. currency. Proponents of “sound money” wanted currency to be backed by gold, as opposed to backing by either silver or silver and gold.

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Coca-Cola ad (Ebony magazine - August 1967)

Coca-Cola’s Contribution to the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s

And now for a little advertising history lesson…

The year was 1967, and the American Civil Rights Movement was at its zenith. After years of struggle to seek equality in the United States, African-Americans had won a series of stunning legal and moral victories. What they had not yet won, apparently, was the right to not be imitated by white people in advertising.


Let me set the stage first. Here’s an ad for Coca-Cola that ran in the August 18 issue of Life magazine:

Coca-Cola ad (Life magazine - August 18, 1967)

By the way, that’s a pull tab that guy is using to open the can. I know, barbaric.

OK, so what’s the problem you ask? Well, usually when a company wants to sell their product to different racial or ethnic groups, they use people from those groups. Like these Coke ads from black magazines in the same year:

Coca-Cola ad (Jet magazine - November 9, 1967)

Coca-Cola ad (Ebony magazine - April 1967) feat. Carmen De Lavallade

But apparently there was a severe shortage of African Americans with the ability to open pull tab cans in ’67, because Coca-Cola ran this ad in the August issue of Ebony magazine:

Coca-Cola ad (Ebony magazine - August 1967)

Notice anything familiar? You should, because that’s the exact same hand in both ads. Coke simply darkened through airbrushing (or whatever the 1960s equivalent of Photoshop was) the photo of the white hand to make it look black. Take a close look at the fingernails to be sure – they’re from exactly the same hand, unless two different people miraculously manicure their nails in the same fashion.

So was this just a harmless example of cost-cutting in Coke’s marketing department? Or did Coca-Cola just secretly hate black people? Well, far be it from me to wildly speculate, but I’m going to go with the hating black people thing. That seems plausible.

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