Wednesday, January 20, 2016


While comic book advertising -- like most advertising, to be frank -- capitalizes on the fear of shame, death, and social stigmatization, it's nonetheless impressive to find a new, densely-worded canon of dread in its firmament. If owed to nothing else besides relative location on the human body, acne cures and baldness fixes make up a surprising concatenation of ads targeting comics' multitude of varying-aged readers (not to mention the ads for heel lifts, applicable for the worried pre-teen and the height-humiliated adult), meanwhile the relatively taboo bed-wetting problem seems rarely addressed.

Luckily this ad for the "Gary Pharmaceutical Co" (Is that Gary Pharmaceutical of the Boston Pharmaceuticals?) of Chicago, Illinois covers all of the potential bases in one swell foop.

The simple in-a-pill solution is always the start of an unbelievable sales pitch, and typically requires a little brazen fear-mongering to successfully land. Luckily, Gary "Big" Pharmaceutical namedrops Shame, Discomfort, and Inconvenience right out of the gate, also listing the chilling, word-association accouterments of bed-wetting -- "electrical devices ... rubber sheets ... alarms" like a shopping list for a cartoonishly evil asylum.

For a slight chill down the spine, read the clinical summaries of the probably-fabricated test cases (I mean, this is a sugar pill mixed with alum or something, right? There can't possibly have been trials): "Recently married, and embarrassed by habit." reads one, "Nervous, irritable" understandably describes the text on the assessment of a six year-old girl who was, presumably, being quizzed about how often she pissed herself. "Child has remained well for the past three years," explains a passage one might assume is attached to a government report on a alien infant restrained within a sterile plastic playsuit. And, lastly, "Child had no organic defect" which is the "Baby Shoes, Never Worn" of anti-bed-wetting ads.

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