Roach Designs Iron-On Transfers - The road to coolness, stage 2.

Today's ad is another gem found in Whitman Comics that will help me become one of the cool kids, and inevitably be invited to sit in the back of the bus. Instead of selling me posters to enradden my groovatorium, today's ad is an opportunity to cool up one of my numerous blank undershirts, which offer no hipness in their natural state. Back in The Seventies, you could buy iron-on transfers, which could be (duh) ironed onto a t-shirt or, as is also recommended in the ad copy, a pillowcase.
These iron-ons were printed on thick vinyl, sometimes with sparkles cast right into the plastic. After twenty or so trips through the washer, the printing would often go away, leaving you with a strange silver blob on your shirt in the shape of your former bad-ass graphic. Also, they didn't breathe at all. If you took off the shirt and looked in the mirror, you could see a pink sweaty spot on your chest in the exact shape of the design. This was handy if you wanted to trace it in felt tip marker onto your skin. Mom would love that. So, the un-breathability of these things makes the idea of sleeping on a pillow with one of these graphics applied to it sounds super comfy, don't you think?

Anyway, homeroom is almost over and I haven't even chosen my super bad design yet. I need to get to work. The state of bargain-priced comic printing in 1976 was such that the little thumbnails in the ad were a challenge to make out. You can almost read some of them if you blur your eyes, like you would for a magic-eye print. This is gonna take a lot of squinting.

Design 5015 - This is clearly a design celebrating Chancellor Weslejijele, from Alexandre Dumas classic The Count of Monte Cristo. Weslejijele was the man who provided the official seal on the letter that Baron Danglars used to have Edmond Dantes falsely convicted of being a secret Bonapartist, and sentenced to life in the Chateau d'If. Treacherous and corrupt, he was a badass of the gilded age. A shirt like this will not only get me beat up by the back-of-the-bus kids, but also extra credit in Literature. No way.

Design 5006 - It's, uuh... I don't know what this is. While I do admire ambiguity, the cool kids will not like me "messing with their heads". Result: ass-kicking. No way, man.

Design 5022 - With the help of self-imposed blur-o-vision, I can just make out the shape of a guy on what looks like a ten-speed bike. It could be something to do with the Tour de France. The movie Breaking Away wouldn't make road cycling cool for another three years, and everybody knew that BMX was The Shit in '76. Also, the sissy rainbow is just begging to be punched. Veto!

Design 5049 - While I do understand the humor in ducking down and shouting "Hey! Balloons!" when there are none about, the cool kids would never get a Python reference that obscure. All they know is that goddam "spam" bit. So they'd just assume I really liked balloons... and getting punched in the nuts. Negative!

Design 5052 - Pepsi logo in a puddle of black with a plastic picnic knife stuck in it. Again with the compelling ambiguity. Again with the "stop messing with our heads". Again with the GTFO.

Design 5051 - Pretend lady tie. Hmm. This will show the cool kids that I'm a hit with the girls, but also that I'm professional, and have some disposable income. I think this may be just the ticket. Kids want to be nice to you when they think you may some day own the factory they'll inevitably work at. I have found my super cool t-shirt design! Who do I have to thank for this? Who am I sending my money to?

Gandalf again! I should have guessed. The border around the whole ad looks just like his staff. I look to the East on the dawn of the fifth day and Gandalf comes to me in my hour of lameness to bring me a super-cool t-shirt iron-on transfer! Thanks, G!

Click for big.


Jim Dillon said...

The lady tie or the hotrod are the only non-lame choices there.

Dude, you were obviously so much closer to cool than I was. I never even dreamed of scheming to get accepted by the back-of-the-bus crowd. My dad was a teacher, and everybody knew it. Sigh.

On the other hand, I did have one really cool iron-on on one t-shirt. (Hey, I just wrote a grammatical sentence with the sequence "on-on on on"! It was the poster image for the Dino DeLaurentis remake of King Kong, which was included in an issue of Family Circle, or Woman's Day, or some magazine like that. My mom just had to tear it out and go to town. I got to invite several friends to go see that movie for my birthday. I was, like 11 or something. Nobody I invited sat in the back of the bus, by the way. But we all fought over who got to sit in the jumpseats in the back of my mom's '72 Country Squire wagon on the way to the theater.

Ah, you hit my nostalgia zone with this one, pal.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Ah, but the very idea of petitioning the cool kids with my supposed coolness is but a fantasy. I was always in the first few rows of the bus. Maybe this was lame, but I was one of the first kids OFF THE BUS when the doors opened.

Funny you should mention King Kong. In my avatar picture... you see that blue shirt? That's a king kong t-shirt purchased during the hype surrounding the very Kong movie you mention.

Also, the iron-ons that came in the newspaper were less horrible than the thick vinyl ones. The free newspaper ones were just dye transfers, if I recall. The shirt still felt normal. In retrospect, this was better. They both faded over time, but at least the dye-only kind didn't also peel off in big plastic scabby bits like the vinyl ones. All things considered, I'd say that our t-shirt technology has made great strides since The Seventies, wouldn't you?

Thanks for reading, Jim!


Anonymous said...

Ah, when the glittery iron-on started to pull away from the fabric just a bit after several washes it created a slightly rough edge to the transfer that you could rub your inner arm against out of boredom.

I had a t-shirt with a Road Runner glittery iron on and one that said "Roller Derby" in cool disco-y script.

MrsBug said...

5006 for some reason reminds me vaguely of a Sand Worm. The Spice is Life.

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