SWEET! Your Indispensable HOSTESS COMIC ADS Checklist

Gimme that creamed filling!

UPDATED 8/22/23: This first ran in August 2021 but I simply felt like it deserved the “reprint” treatment. And the mag is still on sale too! Dig it. — Dan

One of the best things about reading vintage comics is the collateral kitsch: house ads, letters columns, Sea-Monkeys, Count Dante, you get the gist.

Among the most beloved of these features is the Hostess comic ad, dozens of which appeared in the ’70s and ’80s.

Well, writer Michael Eury has accomplished a Herculean task — compiling a comprehensive history of these wonderfully goofy advertisements for Back Issue #130, a volume that is devoted to all sorts of groovy gimmicks and promotions from the Bronze Age.

The whole issue is a tremendous amount of fun, perfect reading for a summer afternoon. Just check out the table of contents:

Anyway, for our EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT, we’re presenting a small portion of Eury’s research, namely a full list of every Hostess ad, broken down by comics title, as well as a by-the-numbers tally. (You can also find links to Hostess galleries below.)

This just scratches the surface, so I strongly recommend you pick up the complete issue, which is out now in comics shops. (It can also be ordered directly via publisher TwoMorrows. Click here.)


Ross Andru pencils, Mike Esposito inks

The Hostess Comic Ads campaign enjoyed a long shelf life, from its inception in March–April 1975 cover-dated comics through titles cover-dated April 1982, with rerun ads trickling into print for another seven months.

Of the known HCAs published (see checklist at the conclusion of this article), Harvey’s Richie Rich appeared in more ads than any other character, headlining at least 36. On his heels: Casper the Friendly Ghost with 33, Josie with 28 (12 more than the freckle-faced namesake of Archie Comics!), Spider-Man with 22, Hot Stuff and Wendy with 19 each, Sad Sack with 18, and Batman and Archie with 16 each.

More HCAs starring Harvey characters were produced than any other publisher, with at least 129 ads appearing. Second was Marvel, with 87 ads, followed by DC, with 80.

My personal favorite. It was DC’s first. Art by Dick Giordano. — Dan

DC, Marvel, Harvey and Archie continued with the initiative throughout its entire run, but Gold Key Comics, which was inching toward extinction during this era, slowly segued out. First, by mid-1976, no new Looney Tunes-starring HCAs were being produced by Western Publishing Inc., Gold Key’s content provider. In their place alternated Marvel and Harvey HCAs—meaning a reader of Gold Key’s Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories might be surprised by a Hostess ad starring Captain America or Richie Rich!

As Harvey Comics historian Mark Arnold tells BI, “A few of the Harvey ads only appeared in Gold Key/Whitman Comics!” Western Publishing did produce a final, post-Looney Tunes HCA, starring Cracky, the wacky parrot that was Gold Key’s host character, in titles cover-dated April 1977. But titles cover-dated October 1980 were the last Gold Keys to include a Marvel or Harvey HCA, although the Hostess Comic Ads program had well over another year of life ahead of it at the other four publishers.

Back Issue #130, edited by Michael Eury, is available at comics shops and magazine sellers. You can also order it directly through TwoMorrows. Click here.


— Dig These 13 Groovy Bronze Age DC COMICS HOSTESS ADS. Click here.

— Dig These 13 Groovy Bronze Age DC COMICS HOSTESS ADS. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Oh, I can’t wait for this!

    I love Dick Giordano, but you can see he swiped from some Adams Batman panels in that Mummy ad. Of course he inked them, so he’s partially swiping from himself! That one is my favorite Batman one as well. Curt Swan seemed to draw most of the DC Hostess ads.

    I had no idea Harvey did so many of these!

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  2. But of course Batman & Robin would have a mummy ray gun! Love it!

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  3. One thing that made them stand out is they were done by artists who regularly drew comics. They kind of blended in with the comics they appeared.

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  4. Once, when I was a kid, I decided to collect all of the Hostess ads from my comics. So, in a feverish state, I cut them all out, and put them into a binder for safe keeping. When I came to my senses, I was sitting in my room, scissors in one hand, with ruined comics strewn all about me. I was so ashamed.

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      • How about as a poster or a design on a t-shirt?

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  5. Just stunned at the large number of ads created for this campaign, though I have to say Hostess missed out on not bringing Matter Eater Lad into the fold.

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