Like most kids who grew up in the 90s, the bulk of my video game information came from magazines. Publications like GamePro, EGM, and Nintendo Power provided monthly dumps of news, previews, reviews, and (of course) advertisements. It was from these printed pages that I first encountered comics based on video games.
While Nintendo Power had the market cornered on adaptations of their beloved franchises, other magazines featured their own short comics, many of which promoted the hot games at the time. These paneled advertisements wormed their way into my brain thanks to numerous readings and re-readings of their magazine hosts. Let’s take a look back to the days where print media was on top, and publishers relied on sequential art to sell their wares!
These fighting frogs are so bad, they made comic book appearances in multiple magazines! In Nintendo Power and GamePro, three nerdy gamers were transformed into the Battletoads to do battle with the Dark Queen and her minions. The Nintendo Power comic (featured above) was drawn by Rare employee Guy Miller and told the backstory of the three toads. The comic featured in GamePro served as an advertisement for the Battletoads TV show, which never made it past the pilot stage. Considering they were in direct competition with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’m not too surprised that the Toads lost that battle.
This strange platformer and its exploding hero hold a special place in my heart. Back in 1993, my brother and I spent most of our weekends running out to the local Blockbuster Video to rent the latest offerings for our Super Nintendo. In those days, cartoon heroes were all the rage, and so many companies had some sort of animal in people-clothes running from left-to-right. But standing out from the wise-cracking bobcats and acrobatic bats was an oddball protagonist who literally threw his punches on a noble quest to retrieve his grandfather’s flag.
This advertisement showed up in the pages of several different publications, along with a minor campaign through the Burger King Kid’s Club. While this comic showcases the odd and colorful world that Plok inhabits, it fails to convey the interesting platforming designed by the Pickford Brothers or the amazing prog rock-esque soundtrack from Tim and Geoff Follin. At least you can still catch up on the comic adventures of this exploding mascot at the Pickford Brothers website.
Now this is the comic that stands out across my childhood like a bizarre nightmare from the past; a weird fever dream that may have never really happened. At the back of an issue of EGM was this strange advertisement for the Turbo Duo starring the hyper-aggressive hero Johnny Turbo. The bulk of the comic was spent denouncing the Sega-CD (thinly disguised as the “Feka-CD”), and touting up the Turbo Duo console. That, and some chubby guy in a green jumpsuit beating the ever-living crap out of a bunch of evil guys in black suits.
Looking back, I know exactly why this comic never resonated with me as a kid. There is an utter lack of information on the Turbo Duo and its available games, which is precisely the sort of thing I looked for when reading a magazine. Instead, I was treated to a sinister interpretation of Sega and an angry super-hero I never heard of telling me why I could save money with a Turbo Duo. In spite of never buying what this comic was selling, its violent imagery and strange premise still haunts the corners of my mind to this day.
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