Back in 1984, the corn-based snack food KP Outer Spacers was rebranded as KP Alien Spacers – and to promote them, alongside TV ads, 2000AD and Bogey Man artist Robin Smith was hired to draw a series of advertorial comic strips.
It’s one of many, many brands promoted using comics (alongside other medium, such as a comics-inspired TV ad) down the years.
Each flavour of KP Alien Spacers (including beef burger, chutney and pickled onion) was represented by a different type of spaceship which appeared on the front of the packet but was also the shape of the crisps themselves.
The campaign – highlighted by downthetubes contributor Richard Sheaf on his Boys Adventure Comics blog recently, and on Bear Alley by Steve Holland, with Richard’s help, back in 2007, ran for several weeks. There were TV ads too.
Like ad campaigns drawn by other comic artists down the decades, including “Tommy Walls” in the original Eagle in the 1950s, initially drawn by Frank Hampson (examined here by Jonathan Crossfield), it was both distinctive and memorable.
That KP Alien Spacers – still on sale today from KP Snacks, as Space Raiders – got a comic strip launch isn’t that surprising. After all, KP Outer Spacers were launched the same way, with strips drawn by Frank Langford (featured here on Bear Alley), accompanied by a number of TV ads that were more Star Wars or Space:1999 inspired than the Alien Spacers promotions.
The promotional Alien Battle Fleet in this earlier campaign was yours for six packets and a few quid, you and the die-cast spaceships you got feature here on Moonbase Central – and Michael Carroll has an item on the posters here on his Rusty Staples site, three posters featuring some stunning art including this panel of British comic heroes, artist unknown).
Comic strip advertorials were hugely persuasive when done properly (and continue to be so).
How many downthetubes readers of a certain age badgered their parents for a pair of “Clarks Commandos” after reading the ads in their favourite comic in the 1970s, drawn by Tom Kerr (featured over on Bear Alley)?
Which comic strip advertorial do you remember best? Why not comment below?
With thanks to Jeremy Briggs, Michael Carroll and Richard Sheaf
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.