See-A-Show was the Kenner Toy Company’s answer to Viewmaster. It was sort of the “poor man’s version,” so to speak. Viewmaster first came on the market in 1939 and featured cardboard disks with small pairs of slides. When you placed them into the plastic viewer, they created a 3D effect. A flip of the lever on the right side of the Viewmaster advanced the disc to the next set of slides.
See-A-Show also has a plastic viewer that was either blue or red. (Mine is blue.) Rather than having slides, the See-A-Show looks at pairs of drawings that are side by side on a 3 ½” by 8 ½” cardboard card. According to the See-A-Show entry at viewmaster.co.uk, “The cards were inserted through a slot and were manually pulled down to view each scene. The slides were made of very thin card which allowed the light to pass through them, so they could be viewed. The stereo effect on these cartoon styles is quite effective.” All of this is true, including the part about the stereo effect being effective, once you adjust your eyes to it all, although, granted, they look like little paper dolls set up in a diorama.
See-A-Show was sold between 1964 and 1969 and there were a wide variety of characters featured. Dennis the Menace, Heckle and Jeckle, Bozo the Clown, the Three Stooges, Superman, Dick Tracy and others. This set features cards of Spider-Man, Captain America, Daredevil, the Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and Thor. The stories are simplistic, have few words, and consist of only 7 panels apiece. We are going to go through every one but, I promise you, this won’t take long. Let’s begin with Spider-Man or, as he’s called on the card “Spiderman.”
Bottle of Doom: Spidey is trapped in a giant jar with the label “Contents 1 Spider-Man.” The lab-coated villain, whom we learn at the end is named “Dr. Malice” looks on and says, “Your web-shooting can’t save you now, Spider-Man!” In panel #2, Dr. Malice shoves the giant jar over so that, in panel #3, it is falling down a mineshaft, which is a very cool 3D effect. Spidey says, “I’ve got to spin this cap off!” In panel #4, the cap is also part of the 3D group of objects in the mineshaft. “I did it!” says Spidey, letting out a WEEEEE that also follows down the shaft in 3D. Still in the jar, in panel #5, Spidey spins a web-parachute (“My spider-chute just in time,” he says) and lowers himself gently to the bottom of the shaft. In panel #6, he wall-crawls up the shaft. (Another cool 3D effect.) “I’ve got a surprise for a certain mad scientist,” he says. And in panel #7, Spidey has Dr. Malice in the giant jar. “Your bug collecting days are over, Dr. Malice,” he says. And that’s it.
Captain America and the Metallic Monster: Cap and his partner “Buddy” (it’s Bucky but maybe they didn’t have the rights to the name) watch as a giant robot brandishing a giant gun rips up power lines. “Stay back, Buddy! I’ll look for a vulnerable spot!” says Cap. But the Monster’s giant foot kicks Cap and he, his shield and some stars floating around from the impact make a great 3D panel. It turns out the Metallic Monster talks, but haltingly if the hyphens can be believed. “Prepare-to-die-Captain-America,” it says. “Buddy” runs up to a livewire on the ground. “Maybe I can short circuit his power source!” he says. He touches the wire to the Monster’s heel. “Here goes nothing,” says “Buddy” as the wire makes contact with the metal with a ZORCH. The Monster drops his gun and starts to fall in another great 3D panel. “Buddy” sits on the fallen Monster. “You earned that trophy, Buddy Boy!” says Cap.
The Crane Cable Caper stars Daredevil and the 3D in every panel is terrific. Matt Murdoch notices a crane driving over to a nearby building. (Though the drawing makes it look like it’s floating in air.) It has a big hook hanging from the end of its winch and Matt comments, “Construction work – at night?” No, it’s not construction. It’s two crooks using the crane to rob the building. They travel over to the roof on the big hook. One says, “Open the skylight and lets get to work.” “This looks like a job for Daredevil,” says Matt. Meanwhile, the crooks have gone through the skylight into an office, bringing the hook down with them. They have a safe they are going to hang on the hook. “Get set to haul her up!” says one. Daredevil sits on the top of the crane and peers in. “Well, well! What busy boys!” he says. He slides down the cable that holds the hook and kicks one of the crooks in the face. “Mind if I drop in?” he says. In the final panel, one unconscious crook is leaning on the safe while the other is draped over the hook. “They just don’t make crooks like they used to!” says Daredevil.
Smashing Discovery. The Incredible Hulk is going incognito in the city by wearing a big overcoat. He sees a newspaper with the headline, “President Missing, Hulk Suspect.” “People always blame Hulk,” he says, “Hulk must get away.” Just then two cops find him. “There he is,” says one of them. “Hulk not need coat to run,” says Hulk who doffs his coat and takes off, as the cops shoot at him. But Hulk trips on a rock and falls (right toward you, in a great 3D panel). He ends up crashing right through a wall where a guy with a machine gun has President Lyndon B. Johnson tied up. The Hulk leaves but the two cops follow and capture the gunman, with LBJ looking on with admiration. “Let the Hulk go,” says one of the two cops, “Thanks to him we’ve got our man.”
Capsulesnatchers starring “Submariner” is next. Subby and an officer watch the descent of a space capsule into the ocean. “The space shot is a success!” says somebody. But then a submarine with a big claw on the end of it rises to the surface and snatches the capsule with a KLANG. It descends and the Sub-Mariner follows. “I must retrieve our capsule from the enemy sub,” he says. The guy in the sub says, “Submariner is poking holes in our hull,” as he looks at water gushing in and Subby posing outside a porthole. (The best 3D image of the story.) “Release the capsule!” says either Subby or a narrator and the submarine does. Back on the surface, the astronaut emerges from the capsule, waves at Subby and says, “Thanks, Submariner.” I guess Subby let the enemy sub go, though. Nice going, Subby.
The Attack of the Cosmic Creature stars Thor and concludes the set. A UFO-like creature starts to land, panicking bystanders. One points and says, “A monster from the sky.” The creature lands on hydraulic legs. Two red tentacles emerge from the top. Planes attack it but “Our planes can’t touch it!” Thor happens by. “What’s going on here?” he wonders. He encounters one of the red tentacles. Who knows what it does but Thor reacts, saying, “By Odin, the monster hath speed.” The tentacle wraps itself around Thor but Thor hurls his hammer at the UFO part of the creature. “I have felt thy wrath,” he says, “now taste the wrath of Thor!” There is a loud KRUMPF and then a smoking ruin in the middle of the city. “Thus speaks the hammer of thunder!” says Thor.
I know what you’re going to say. There is nothing in the way of characterization here, not much in the way of story, very little in the way of thought, and the drawings aren’t all that great either. All true but it doesn’t matter. It’s Spidey and his pals in a nifty little format with some pretty cool 3D images. It is cute and clever and very entertaining.
We will see the Kenner Toy Company again.
A great addition to any collection of oddball Spidey stuff. Five webs.
Next: We’re barreling on toward 1968! But we have to take some fanzine detours first.