Advertisement from Alarming Tales #1 (November 1958)
As I have been scanning Alarming Tales comics I kept coming across the above advertisement. I remember this ad from when I was young, it ran in a lot of different comics and did so for a number of years. I remember it because I always had a fascination with dinosaurs. When young I wondered what these particular dino figures actually looked like. I was not so naive to believe the illustration was a true representation of the actual model. As inflatable latex I am sure the toys were pretty crude objects. The thing is I have never seen one, and I suspect I never will. As cheap items sold to or for youngsters, it is quite possible that none have survived.
This is not the only toy dinosaur I wonder about. When I was very young, four or five I believe, I played with a set of toy dinosaurs that included a gorilla, obviously inspired by King Kong. What made this set special is that this was in the days before plastic became so prevalent, these dinosaurs were made in wax. I am sure it was not typical wax, it must have been a compound made to survive a wide range of temperatures. But because it was wax the toys would not last too long before breaking. I remember them as a rather nice set, but since I was so young was that memory accurate? I would love to see them once more but with their fragile nature I again have to wonder if any survived. They are probably as extinct as the dinosaurs they represented.
It probably is not that great of a loss if in fact none of the dinosaur toys discussed above have survived. They played a very small part of our history. What about comic books? Throughout their history comics have been considered unimportant disposable items of interest only to youngsters. However many artists worked on comics, and many more readers, however young, bought them. Surely comic books had an important impact on our culture. Surely the work of so many artists should not be silenced. Surely this is part of our history that is worth saving.
But will it be saved? Yes there are a lot of active comic book collectors. Their treasures are protected in various types of sleeves. But it is a doomed effort. The paper the comics are printed have acid that makes them self destructive. I do not know when, but the day will come when they will all crumble away. There are some treatments that are supposed to stall the acidification but I cannot help but wonder if the cure is worse then the disease.
There are people like me scanning their collections. But there is so much to scan I cannot help but wonder if it will all be recorded before it is too late. If you think this is unlikely to happen I recommend that you examine what happen to early films. Some movies have been completely lost, they were never copied before the cellulose they were made from disintegrated. Some of these films were considered significant pieces at the time. An important part of our history was lost.