Thursday, May 22, 2008

It Came from the Back Issue Box - Supergirl and Honda Seat Belt Campaign



It's sounds crazy in this current age of car seats, booster seats, and safety concerns, but back in the mid-1980's people needed to be convinced to use seat belts while driving. Even crazier is that they needed to be convinced to seat belt in their kids!

Don't get me wrong, as a child of the 70's I can remember being in the 'way-back' of a station wagon flopping around as my parents drove around. Even today my parents call the car/booster seats my kids use 'torture devices'.

In 1984, the US Department of Transportation - run by Libby Dole - had a campaign to increase seat belt (then called 'safety belt) usage. In conjuction with Honda and DC, they released 2 issues starring Supergirl to promote safety belt use. One issue was aimed more for the pre-teen/adolescent age group. The other was aimed more for a younger set. This is the issue reviewed today.

The issue is borderline psychedelic in nature. Supergirl meets up with 2 kids on a family trip and discusses safe driving. The trip takes a spin through a land populated by fairy tale characters. Here they meet Humpty Dumpty who doesn't wear a seat belt and gets cracked during a fender bender. They also meet the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, the Big Bad Wolf, and fairy tale characters who demonstrate the utility of seat belts, obeying traffic laws, and not succumbing to road rage. The panels are busy, brightly colored, and littered with bizarre imagery. Learning from these encounters, they all decide to buckle up - even our invulnerable Maid of Might.






Lastly, they head to a safety show where the Crash Test Dummies from prior public service announcements demonstrate the problems of not wearing a seat belt including being expelled through your windshield should you crash into a brick wall.






Through this gentle education, both Supergirl and the children learn that seat belt use should be standard and that from now on they will all use them religiously.







No one will confuse this issue with Maus or Watchmen, but it delivers a nice message albeit in a convoluted way.


For me, the most intriguing thing about the issue was the credits. Somehow DC convinced legendary artist Joe Orlando to do some of the scripting and all of the pencilling. He draws a fairly straight-forward Kara.


The second most intriguing thing is that DC picked Supergirl to be the spokesperson. At the time, the Supergirl movie was post-production and there was the monthly Daring New Adventures of Supergirl title. Maybe DC felt that as a 'younger' character she would resonate more with readers. Still, New Teen Titans was DC's most popular title at the time. I am surprised they did not get the nod. Not that I am complaining ...

2 comments:

dto said...

Saw your posts on the DC Message Boards, and have been reading your Supergirl blog. Very nice!

Two comments on the Supergirl Seatbelt comics. First, the one you spotlighted has a copyright date of 1986 -- AFTER poor Kara was officially "dead and forgotten". (Choke! Sob!)

Also, Supergirl is wearing the Helen Slater movie costume! Only the two Honda comics and the movie adaptation showed Kara in this outfit. Of course, all were "out of continuity", but it's nice seeing Kara Zor-El in that "classic" look.

Anj said...

Saw your posts on the DC Message Boards, and have been reading your Supergirl blog. Very nice!

Thanks so much! Glad you like it!

Two comments on the Supergirl Seatbelt comics. First, the one you spotlighted has a copyright date of 1986 -- AFTER poor Kara was officially "dead and forgotten". (Choke! Sob!)

I did not know when this one was published in 1986. I didn't realize it was after COIE #7. Makes it more interesting.

Also, Supergirl is wearing the Helen Slater movie costume! Only the two Honda comics and the movie adaptation showed Kara in this outfit. Of course, all were "out of continuity", but it's nice seeing Kara Zor-El in that "classic" look.

Another good point. Thanks so much! This was way before Matrix wore this style.