Retro Rip-offs

Mail-Order Mysteries by Kirk Demarais reveals the reality behind those tantalizing vintage novelty advertisements in the back of comic books in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s that offered “authentic” laser-gun plans, x-ray specs, and seven-foot-tall monsters (with glow-in-the-dark eyes!). But what did you really get if you entrusted your hard-earned $1.69 to the post office? Check it out. Says graphic design guru Chip Kidd, ”If childhood disappointment could ever be considered an art form, then Mail-Order Mysteries is a masterpiece. Really. The metaphors for life itself are inescapable, the disillusion heartbreakingly laid bare, the tackiness a drug you just can’t quit.” Which I vaguely disagree with, because, you know, I think I had all of these at one time or another when I was growing up, and despite initially being a little let down, I remember loving them all. This is sweet nostalgia for me.

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