Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Chew the Fat: King Size Annual Edition!

Redartz:  It's the height of summertime, and for any true Bronze ager, that means Annuals! Or, if you prefer, King-Size Specials, or Summer Specials. Featuring...


 Special Features!

 Extra length Stories!

 The summer just wasn't complete without a goodly array of giant size comics for whiling away those hazy afternoons. And while Marvel had the monopoly on the Annuals during our Bronze age, DC did put some out on the spinners (and actually had some all-reprint annuals in the Silver Age). And perennial teen Archie sported an Annual edition each year, albeit one that changed format to a digest after 1975. 

Anyway, they always were lots of fun, with generally special stories and often extra features. Guest stars were frequent. Different artists were used at times, as were unusual writers (Steve Gerber on the Iron Man Annual below was one of my favorite examples of this). Obviously the Summer Specials had a lot of appeal. Hence their longevity (some still have appeared in recent years; with varying degrees of success, imho). 

No doubt you all have your personal faves, and I'm sure you'll share them with us shortly. A couple that top my list:

Spider-Man Annual 15 (fooled you, bet you thought I was going to name ASM Annual 1). A truly great story by Denny O'Neal , Frank Miller and Klaus Janson; with the Punisher and my number one Spidey villain: Doc Ock. And the book rounds out with some of those special features as mentioned above; a fine Summer package.

X-Men Annual 7- Another great issue, with an incredibly fun tale starring the Impossible Man. Terrific art by Michael Golden, some amusing guest appearances, and one of the greatest appearances of 'Galactus' ever.

So as not to hog the conversation, I'll leave further Annual assessments up to you. But to stoke the memory, here's an appropriately King-Size assemblage of Annual covers. Enjoy!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Red! You flawlessly move from cookies to annuals! Excellent display of the breadth of your capabilities and why you have a blog!

Excellent display of annuals.

I never knew the Spirit had an annual!

I do have the Spidey Kingsize #5.. but not sure how it is a reprint from JC Penney's??? LOL.

And thanks for the non-Marvel action! That Gumby and Poco made my day!

Colin Jones said...

Sadly the annuals/king-size specials weren't available where I lived. I could buy imported Marvel comics and even some Treasury Editions but never any annuals - most of the covers featured today are new to me.

Anonymous said...

Well now, that’s a fine juicy topic, yes it is. You’ve got lots of excellent choices here in your gallery, some of which I can’t resist bloviating about...

AMAZING SPIDEY ANNUAL 15 is indeed terrific. That was actually a really nice little run of Spidey Annuals there in the 80s — 13 has some tasty Byrne/Austin art, 14 is that wild O’Neil/Miller/Palmer Spidey / Dr. Strange team-up, 15 is Denny and Frank again with Klaus Janson inks, and 16 is the introduction of Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel with art Romita Sr. inking Romita Jr. on the art.

I loved how FF ANNUAL 11’s time-twisting FF / Invaders adventure came to a seemingly satisfying ending only to have Ben realize the Watcher is still hanging around giving him the Silent Treatment on the last page, meaning there was still some unfinished business in WW II that could only be resolved by teaming up with the Liberty Legion in TWO IN ONE ANNUAL 1. Such a clever crossover gimmick, Starlin pulled pretty much the same trick the following year with AVENGERS ANNUAL 7 and TWO IN ONE ANNUAL 2.

I‘ve said it before, I’ll say it again : Trevor Von Eeden’s work on BATMAN ANNUAL 8 is just bafflingly under-appreciated. I mean, it is flat-out stunning. And I adore that creepy Clayface story by Alan Moore and George Freeman in BATMAN ANNUAL 11.

AVENGERS ANNUALS I have loved: #9 with a rare Marvel Don Newton art job, #10 with senses-staggering art by Mike Golden, and #13 drawn by Ditko , inked by Byrne.

More later!

- b.t.

Mike Wilson said...

I always loved Amazing Annual #18 with Scorpion going after JJJ during his wedding to Marla Madison. I also liked the crossover in Avengers and MTIO Annuals with Thanos and Adam Warlock.

DC had some pretty good Annuals in the early 80s; the final chapter of the Judas Contract was in a Titans Annual, and the Legion seemed to use their Annuals for weddings a lot.

BobC said...

That King Size Avengers #1 is one of my favorite Bronze age comics of all time. They really used the Wasp's abilities in a great way. And of course the Wedding of Reed and Sue is right up there, too!

pfgavigan said...


King Size Hulk #1 was out of my brother's comic books, I think. I spent hours looking at that cover, the one that slowly disintegrated as I re read that book multiple times. Gary Freidrich's story along with Marie Severin and Syd Shores art just grabbed my attention so hard I was actually disappointed that when I finally got my hands on a copy of the regular book to find it was written by some guy named Lee.



Redartz said...

Charlie- glad you liked the post! Your "J.C.Penney's" edition of that Spidey annual- I've heard of it, but never have seen one. You may have a collector's item there! Does it reprint the entire book, features and all, or just the story?
Oh, and that Gumby Special was great, if memory serves. It isn't expensive, but I've not seen one; had it way back when (it was one of the last books I bought before the big 'sell off'). It would be worth picking up if you see it; pretty fun stuff.

Colin- odd that you could get the occasional Treasury Edition, but not the Annuals. Perhaps they were considered a conflict with your UK annuals? There were some great stories, such as the famous "Sinister Six" story from ASM annual 1. Were those stories ever presented in some format 'over your way'?

b.t.- you are so right about that string of Spider-Man Annuals. They definitely had a streak going. Also in full agreement about those Batman Annuals. I only read that Clayface/Penguin issue last year, based upon the positive recommendations. It is indeed a winner.

Mike W- aaaah, you caught me flat-footed! Forgot about those Legion Annuals! oops...

BobC- good call; that FF Annual with Reed and Sue's wedding was aces. Man, they packed everything (literally) into that story. And then reprinted a couple great issues as well; now that was a Summer Special...

Pfg- good to hear from you! Your comment about 'disintegration' raises a point about many of those vintage "Giant size" comics. So many were square bound; which was actually appealing. But do you think that may have made them more vulnerable to falling apart from repeated reading? Seems rare to find those books in top condition. Most have been lovingly read , over and over again...

pfgavigan said...


Being square bound definitely made a difference. My favorite books were the early reprint collections of Spiderman, The Fantastic Four and others. These were all bound like that so that the pages were pulling against the staples. One sharp tug could easily rip several loose.


Graham said...

Oh my gosh! I had so many of these. Annuals (and Marvel Treasury Editions) were basically my introduction to Marvel because it was so hard for me to keep up with the multi-part stories back then....the store in my town apparently had spotty distribution, but the summer annuals were pretty consistent. I also got a boatload of DC's Super Spectaculars in the early 70's, and even some of the digest-sized ones from the early 80's.

Anonymous said...

FF ANNUAL 5 is one of my favorite Silver Age Annuals. The lead story has Ben, Johnny, The Black Panther and some of the Inhumans fighting Psycho-Man and a handful of Z-listers on an island. The back-up is the first solo Silver Surfer story — he uses the Power Cosmic to give Quasimodo the Living Computer a physical body and then they fight. Neither is all that brilliant or innovative or deep, story-wise. Oh, but the art by Kirby and Giacoia : (chef’s kiss) — so good.

THÉ OUTSIDERS ANNUAL 1 (1986) is 44 pages of young Kevin Nowlan on freaking FIRE. He’d already been turning heads on a few Moon Knight fill-ins, a few short stories in NATIONAL LAMPOON, assorted pinups and covers, but this book blew people away and firmly established him as a major new talent.

CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL 3 is a lot of fun, one of my favorites from Kirby’s Return To Marvel era. Cap and some Farmer dude vs. a creepy Space Vampire. I actually own two pages from this, bought them from The King himself at San Diego Comic-Con back in the mid-80s. A hundred bucks a page seemed like a damn fortune at the time :)

That SPIRIT ‘Special’ is a little misleading — it’s technically not really an Annual. Warren only published a handful of genuine Annuals, including the super-rare and expensive VAMPIRELLA 1972 ANNUAL (took me FOREVER to find a copy of that one). But at some point Warren did start publishing Summer Specials of all their books, usually all reprints, usually with extra pages, often with at least one story in full color, but they were just numbered as part of their respective consecutive runs (like the mighty EERIE 59, the legendary ‘Dax the Damned’ issue). But pretty much Annuals, in all but name. Most of the material was all new to me at the time, so I loved ‘em. EERIE 69 is another great one, reprinting the first ‘Hunter’ saga complete (stylish art by Paul Neary). CREEPY 74 is a nifty All Reed Crandall Special, CREEPY 113 an All Bernie Wrightson Special.

Marvel carpet-bombed the newsstands with B/W mags in the Summer of ‘75. Probably they were just deliberately flooding the market to make things difficult for Warren and Skywald (and Atlas too, maybe). Some were supposedly new ongoing titles but turned out to be one-shots (LEGION OF MONSTERS and MARVEL MOVIE PREMIERE) or were announced as their own titles but just eventually appeared as issues of MARVEL PREVIEW (SHERLOCK HOLMES and STAR-LORD). The majority were simply slapped-together Annuals full of reprints. Most of their Horror B/W mags had already been cancelled, but we got one-off Annuals of VAMPIRE TALES, DRACULA LIVES, MONSTERS UNLEASHED and TALES OF THE ZOMBIE anyway. The SAVAGE TALES, DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU and SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN Annuals were all reprinted from color comics with hastily applied ink-wash grey tones (and most of them looked freaking awful). MASTERS OF TERROR was part of the same wave of titles — not technically an Annual, but two whole issues of reprints, mostly from Marvel’s horror anthology books (JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, TOWER OF SHADOWS, SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS, etc). All of the stories were adaptations of prose stories by authors like Robert Bloch, Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Theodore Sturgeon, and H. G. Wells.

- b.t.

Colin Jones said...

Red, the US annuals probably were available in the UK, just not in my small town - Steve Walker (Steve Does Comics) could have found them in Sheffield no doubt. And yes, some of the stories from the annuals did end up in the UK weeklies or monthlies which is why I do recognize some of those covers.

By the way, the drink that McScotty and I mentioned is called IRN bru not IM bru as you wrote in your final comment of last week's discussion - I wasn't sure if you mis-spelt it or whether you mistook Irn for Im. Anyway the drink is IRN BRU (pronounced IRON BREW) - we wouldn't want you to search for the wrong thing if you come visit :)

And Paul's (McScotty's) comments are notorious for their terrible spelling (sorry Paul, if you're reading this) so when he refers to "Tunnock's Carmel Waders" he actually means Tunnock's Caramel Wafers.

Steve Does Comics said...

As far as I can remember, the only American annual I ever owned was Amazing Spider-Man King-Size Special #6 in which Spidey tangled with the Sinister Six, the FF and a solo Torch. It was also the first Marvel comic I ever owned.

Nearly all the stories from annuals got reprinted by Marvel UK at some point, such was that imprint's voracious appetite for material.

Colin Jones said...

I've just bought a pack of "Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Biscuits" for the first time in years - I'd forgotten how yummy they are :)

Anonymous said...

First Annual I ever owned was CAPTAIN AMERICA SPECIAL 2. It was at least a full year before I started buying comics regularly, sort of an impulse buy. I remember the cover catching my eye at the spinner rack, Cap in that super-iconic Kirby action pose with Red Skull’s combo Sleeper zapping the crap out of the Earth in the background. While flipping through the comic, I recognized the Sleeper storyline from the cheap-o MARVEL SUPER HEROES cartoon — I’m pretty sure I’d only seen the cartoon adaptation once, but certain images had been burned into my memory and seeing ‘em in the comic triggered a pleasant feeling of deja vu. Enough to make me part with a whole quarter (which was a whole week’s allowance at the time)


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