This Christmas past, I was teaming up with my father to get the last few bits of our shopping done and I happened to espy the above package (well, not the exact same one - I don't have my scanner here and anyway it has been in my coat pocket for three months - it looks like it was in a car accident). I'd already spent the last of my cash on quail, so I forced my poor progenitor to buy them for me in exchange for my advice on what sort of candy to get for my brother's girlfriend.
But what could possibly have filled my normally-altruistic heart with such mercenary impulses, and in the very season that Pappy Solstice, Santa Claus, Grampy Tanglebeard and their ilk are examining the actions of humanity with such care?
The answer, as is so often the case when my motivations are opaque to those around me, lay with my obsession for antique media, in this case Silver Age Comics. Smith Brothers ads have been creeping into my brain for years but I'd honestly never thought to see the things in real life and so hadn't bothered to build a wall of cynicism and determination around the affected portion of my brain, like I do for, say, Swffers. As soon as I saw that little white box sitting on the shelf all of the Smith Brothers' virtues, beamed into my mind from the back pages of Batman and Mystery in Space, came crashing down on my consciousness. It was all I could do not to trample small children just to get my hands on them faster.
Compounding the problem is the fact that I love most of their ads. they tend to be adorable:
Oddly, though, they don't really feature any recurring characters other than Trade and Mark, the bearded bros. One ad might feature the ultra-cute singing children pictured above, while the next showcases the Brothers' ability to enter the dreams of sick children:
Actually, that one was a recurring theme:
Thing is, it's always a different kid, even if they kind of look like they were issued the same button nose and tousled hair at birth. Either the Smith Brothers were careful to spread their wisdom around - which makes sense, given that the average child should be capable of retaining the "take cough drops when you have a cough" wisdom - or I just haven't yet encountered the continuing adventures of Mickey Marvel, Boy Box Kite Enthusiast. I kind of suspect that I'm missing out on some further adventures of these next guys especially:
I'm actually kind of tormented by the thought that there might be more to this story. Do Nip and Tuck go on to have further adventures? Was there a prequel to this one or did it really start in media res? Will I ever learn of the origin of their ludicrous nicknames? Certainly there was at least some further mileage in the "buy our cough drops or people might kill you" plot, as evidenced by this ad by competing drop manufacturer Ludens:
I honestly though that Hatchet Hattie was just misunderstood and that this would turn out to be a comic about tolerance, but no, it's about cough drops preventing axe murder.
But I digress. The subject was the non-recurrence of characters in Smith Brothers ads. As I said, there may be many more of the pesky things than I have encountered over the years, but the only character who I have seen in the them more than once - aside from the Brothers themselves, of course - is the beanie kid from the first ad, above, and I'm pretty sure that he is the ultimate factor that led to my Christmastime fall-from-grace.
How could I resist his tuba-playing charms? HOW?