Adverts in The Victor and Hornet Comics

Do you want to join the armed forces or the Police? The armed forces and Police were quick to realise the potential of comics in attracting new recruits, by placing advertisements in both comics. My rough, uncontrolled research carried out by checking a small number of Victor and Hornet comics selected at random, seems to suggest that the Royal Navy advertised their service on a regular basis, followed by the Army then the RAF (The Royal Air Force).

The Police adverts sometimes took the form of quizzes asking boys and girls what they knew about the history of the Police force or asking if they could spot ten crimes being committed in the accompanying picture. (I was never successful at this. From which it can be surmised that I didnít pursue a career with the police force. No doubt much to the police forceís relief). Note the majority of the adverts below are from The Victor, but they could just as easily be found in The Hornet. Adverts published in one comic tended to be also published in the other comic. We'll now take a short break for several examples of armed forces adverts.

An Air Cadet advert. The Victor issue 502. © D.C. Thomson Co. Ltd Advert for the Commandos from The Victor issue 574. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. Advert for The Army from The Victor issue 551. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.

A Royal Navy advert from The Victor issue 150. © D.C. Thomson Co. Ltd

As the comics were aimed at youngsters so were the adverts. Adverts for cars, model planes, Action Man ® figures, ships, even stamps were all the rage. Eating and chewing products such as cereals and bubble gum were also widely advertised. Other types of adverts included purchasing a booklet on how to give yourself a Mr. Universe type body with wall to wall chest muscles. Useful for chasing off bullies or kicking sand in their eyes and attracting the girls. (I was always a bit suspicious of the bloke in the picture in his leopard briefs with his hands on his hips. His attitude suggested that the booklet didn't make one all that tough)!

Please note all products mentioned in the adverts remain the copyright of the various companies.

Subbuteo table football® was very popular in the 1970's and 1980's, the rugby and cricket versions less so. Another popular past time was the building of planes, ships and land vehicles from plastic kits. Numerous companies such as Airfix®, Revell®, Frog® and Matchbox ® all placed advertisments in both comics, selling their planes, ships and army vehicles and troops. Airfix® I think, were the largest manufacturer in the UK with a hugh selection of not only British and American military kits but also German and Japanese models available for sale.

After the break we'll look at a clever piece of advertising and how comics did their bit to discourage smoking.

Advertisement for replicate banknotes from The Victor issue 570. © D.C. Thomson Co. Ltd Subbuteo advert from The Victor issue 570. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. An advert for model cars from The Victor issue 575. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
An advert for model planes from The Victor issue 584. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. Advertisement for Airfix models. From The Hornet issue 583. © D.C. Thomson Co. Ltd

An advert for stamps from The Victor issue 571. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.

One of the cleverest adverts Iíve found was for recruiting youngsters into delivering newspapers. Read the advert below and youíll see what I mean. The advert is built up in such a way that it appears as though the job is of great importance. Itís only about half way through the advert that you realise what the job is.

An advert recruiting boys to deliver newspapers. The Victor issue 596. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.

The campaign against smoking and was very much in evidence in the sixties, seventies and eighties, although non-smokers were in the minority in these decades. Smoking was still very popular, especially with teenagers. In the late 1960ís the tactic was to enlist the help of famous people such as Bobby Moore (see the advert below) and even a Senior BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) pilot, Captain Benton D.F.C. (The Victor issue 219), and other famous people.

A stop smoking advert from The Victor issue 212. © D.C. Thomson Co. Ltd

Our final section takes a brief look at the adverts being published in The Victor in the mid to late 1980's. (The Hornet by this time had already stopped being published). Computer games were slowly becoming popular in the eighties and The Victor not wanting to miss out began publishing a review page called Database which listed new computer games. Each game was reviewed and given Victor ratings with each category (use of instructions, degree of game difficulty, graphics and overall value for money), being marked out of ten.

A Database review page. The Victor issue 1265. © D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.

© Adrian Banfield 2008.