If you ever open a vintage comic book to the advertisement pages you will find all manner of items for sale. Promises of 30 pounds of muscle in 40 days, Pet Rocks, Spider-man gliders, mail order posters of Star Trek and Star Wars and whatever the hot movie was in the late 1970s. You could also buy spy equipment to help the cold war effort that included spy glasses, x-ray vision, radios and flashlights. It was a time when Marvel was more than happy to license out their properties to various companies for comic books and various films and television projects
It was truly an era of novelty merchandise marketed to kids. From puzzles to tins to costumes and bike accessories to … toilet paper.
Yes, toilet paper.
In the late 1970’s Marvel Comics partnered with Dawn Steel’s merchandising company Oh! Dawn, Inc to produce a line of novelty items depicting its famous superheroes and comic book characters. One of those items was a roll of 2-ply toilet paper upon which they would print an exclusive and original comic book story.
Incidentally, this was not the first time that the Oh! Dawn, Inc. company had dabbled in novelty and designer toilet paper. Just a few years prior, 1975, Oh! Dawn, Inc. was in the news for the great “Toilet Paper Caper” in which they infringed upon the copyright of Gucci by printing paper depicting the designer company’s logo.
Dawn subsequently sold her interests in the company to her ex-husband. She then had her attorney reach out to Richard Weston who ran the merchandising division of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, California. One of Paramount’s companies, CBS Television, were producing prime time live-action shows such as Marvel’s Spider-man (1977-1979) and the Incredible Hulk (1977-1982).
Everything had aligned for Dawn Steel to create another toilet paper caper.
The merchandising team and Jim Shooter got together and put together a creative team from Marvel’s infamous bullpen. The team would include Jim Salicrup (Writer, editor: Kraven’s Last Hunt), Michael Higgins (Marvel’s New Universe co-founder) for writing duties and Marie Severin (Eisner Hall of Famer, Co-creator of Spider-woman) would do the pencils and art.
The 8 page story features Spider-man and Bruce Banner in New York City. Parker is checking out a “Gamma-ray generator system” at the Empire State Building, unaware that Banner would also be at the event. A character by the name of “The Leader” suddenly crashes in with his Mechanoid armor and mayhem and pandemonium ensue. The toilet paper is the first appearance of the gamma-ray generator powered Mechanoid.
The Hulk smashes the armor and the Leader flees, only to be caught by your friendly neighborhood Spider-man and they save the day (or at least that visit to the bathroom).