Charles Atlas is the body builder that everybody knows from comic book advertisements, but if you actually bought and read comic books regularly any time between the 1950s through the 1970s, you would be just as familiar with the name of Joe Weider.
Weider is recognized as the father of bodybuilding having developed a number of techniques in achieving muscle mass as well as an entrepreneur in that he packaged those techniques and sold them through comic books as well as his own publications.
Comic books were particularly fertile soil for the products and services Weider and Atlas were offering. What better place could there be to sell power fantasies to pimply teens and misfits? I was one of those teens. I didn’t order this course, but I did inquire about Weider’s Be a Destructive Self-Defense Fighter in Just 12 Short Lessons. I thought for the price of a postage stamp I would become the most feared kid in school. As it turned out, it wasn’t a free course. What I sent away for was a sales brochure showcasing a series of books that would give me all of the fighting secrets of the world. I forget what they cost, but I didn’t have the money so I never did unlock those secrets. Absolutely no one feared me, and I tried to perfect the art of invisibility by blending into walls.
In doing a little research for this article, I learned that Weider had wed Betty Brosmer who was a cheesecake model. Mr and Mrs Weider looked like the idealized characters from the comics they advertised in.
The muscle advertisement appeared in issue 220 of Tarzan published by DC Comics in 1973. That series featured the incomparable art of the late, great Joe Kubert.