Lionel Richie: Marvel Superhero & other horrors from America’s worst coloring books


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Three Godawful Coloring Books

The coloring book industry now profits thousands of dollars per year and stands as the most reliable method for transmitting sketches from bar napkins and slush piles directly into the hands of America’s children. Nowhere in publishing are the expectations more agreeably low.

How else to explain this thing to the right? In the name of drawing Iron Man or somebody, the talents behind The Avengers Coloring & Activity Book instead invite kids to dedicate themselves to the memorialization of Lionel Richie’s face — an artistic task we all know is best left to sculptors.


More Marvel to come below.

First, though, let’s contend with the shoddiness of Fido: Friend or Foe, a coloring-book safety guide with an ambitious goal: convincing customers that insurance companies give a damn about your kids.

Fido: Friend or Foe Activity Book

Date: 1997
Publisher: State Farm Insurance

To demonstrate this, a couple artists traced some photos of dogs. That’s how they got this tender scene.


Break out the pink and add some teats!

The illustrators seem to specialize in children in pain.


Remember: you don’t know a dog just because you’ve bothered to make up T-shirts of it.

Here’s some good advice:


And especially never set that baby on a target in front of a dog wearing a lucha libre mask.

Puppies dream in Venn diagrams!


Fido: Friend or Foe supposes a Manichean universe where dogs are either good or evil rather than independent consciousness shaped by their needs and experiences.

The Marvel comics universe is likewise divided into friends and foes, but it has one significant advantage: nobody there is just tracing photos.

(Except Greg Land.)

Maybe they should, though. I mean, check out Quicksilver’s thigh.

And here’s the world’s first double-amputee superhero.


The villains of Marvel commit many terrible crimes, but there’s one too heinous for even them to dare: violating Marvel copyright, which is indicated on every single page. Sometimes, the company goes so far as to brand its women.

Right there: they own her crotch.

There’s just one page worth savoring in America The Beautiful to Color, a patriotic coloring book created by people who are bound to know true beauty: Resource Publishers of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Your Crap Archivist presumes the date on this thing ’76 or thereabouts, but there’s a couple pages missing in my copy, and I can find no further info online.

Anyway, the scene: Washington, D.C.

As the leafy, voracious idea of socialism at last begins to swallow the Capitol itself, a young boy ridicules his mother’s claims to reproductive freedom.

Or maybe he’s saying “Marvel Comics owns that!!”

Either way, the dad’s just standing there peeing.