An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

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Kashgar
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An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Kashgar »

While I think it is true that most of us received the vast majority of all the annuals we were given as children for Xmas, it is perhaps a little surprising how little seasonal contant they contained.
Obviously publishers were wary that they might diminish sales of annuals by making Xmas the main focus of their content as they went on sale months before the event but it is perhaps a little strange that, in the main, they ignored the event altogether even though they must have known, full well, that most kids would get their first glimpse of their annuals on Xmas morning.
As a kid the two most notable exceptions in this regard were the Dandy Book which had Xmas covers from 1968 and then on through most of the 1970's and the Buster Book which had Xmas themed covers in 1964 and 1965.
I'll return to this subject shortly but which annuals most exemplified and celebrated the festive season in your chilhood?

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stevezodiac
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by stevezodiac »

I've never forgotten my first annuals - which I still have, were the TV21 annuals for 1965 and 1966. I cannot remember whether or not there was any Christmas content but even at that young age I remember noticing that the strips were not drawn by the regular artists. Given that Noble and Embleton painted their strips it probably wasn't practical to put in a newsprint style annual whereas the comic was printed in photogravure. Later in the sixties I got the Fantastic annuals and The Impossibles Annual which was an earlier version of the Incredibles- a super hero team who's secret identity was a pop group. My late father bought me these so I have kept them for sentimental reasons.

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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Ginger »

Interesting thread.
Kashgar wrote: Obviously publishers were wary that they might diminish sales of annuals by making Xmas the main focus of their content as they went on sale months before the event
I think a whole book every year full of xmas-themed comics would surely be just too much xmas for anyone, and would also perhaps make rereading the annuals at other times feel unseasonal. But there were lots of snowy winter-based stories, if I remember aright.
And a question:- Did they always go on sale months ahead of xmas? I thought the August annual was a more recent phenomenon.

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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by colcool007 »

I think the most seasonal cover that I can recall is the 1986 Warlord cover with Union Jack Jackson charging across the snow-covered battlefield in a Santa suit. I saw it up close and personal at Arbroath and if that pesky CCTV had not been there, I would have "added" it to my collection! :lol:

I know a few of the 60's/70's cover did feature Christmas style covers in one way or another, but they did not impinge on my enjoyment of them while reading the story at other times in the year.

Annual sales have moved forward from October in the 1980's to late August as we see now. This has been a gradual sales creep over the years and will only revert if there is a major change in the way retailers treat Christmas as a cash cow.
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Lew Stringer »

Ginger wrote:Interesting thread.
Kashgar wrote: Obviously publishers were wary that they might diminish sales of annuals by making Xmas the main focus of their content as they went on sale months before the event
I think a whole book every year full of xmas-themed comics would surely be just too much xmas for anyone, and would also perhaps make rereading the annuals at other times feel unseasonal. But there were lots of snowy winter-based stories, if I remember aright.
And a question:- Did they always go on sale months ahead of xmas? I thought the August annual was a more recent phenomenon.

These days it's a July release date, although some shops still hold them in storage until September unfortunately. September has been the month of release for decades. (I have a Wham! Annual 1972 with the receipt dated Sept 23rd still inside which I've kept for sentimental reasons as my grandad bought it me on a day trip to Blackpool.)

It always seemed more relevant to me to have a few seasonal stories in an annual, but it wasn't a big deal. One of my favourite annuals, - The Dalek World, - had no seasonal strips at all of course. But a Christmas cover or story did feel quite special if it was read on Christmas Day.

I usually aim to do one of my stories in an annual with either a Christmas Day or snow theme. I'm just finishing off one such page right now actually! (Snow theme, not Christmas.)
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by philcom55 »

Every year without fail from the beginning of the 1950s through to the mid-1960s our Auntie Una used to buy the latest Rupert Annual as a Christmas present, first for my brother and then for me. As a result Alfred Bestall's wonderful artwork always makes me think of the 'stocking fillers' Santa used to leave in a pillow case at the foot of my bed on Christmas morning as a kind of delightful hors d'oeuvre to the big presents waiting under the tree downstairs. Though the beautifully painted covers didn't always have a seasonal theme I seem to recall that there was nearly always a Christmas story in which the quaint old village of Nutwood suddenly came alive with animated toys, flying reindeer and elves!
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by starscape »

Not sure I'd want Peter Flint on a secret mission to deliver Chrissie presents to POWs, ending with a "Merry Xmas Readers!", then Union Jack Jackson catching some young innocent Nazi who just happens to be conscripted involuntarily by the Germans being let go to his family that have fled to Switzerland with a "and a Merry Xmas to you, Britisher!", then Killer Kane almost being shot down but being saved by a WW1 plane piloted by an elderly robust gentlemen with a beard "Boy, that's the best Christmas present a fighter pilot could have!", then Falken engaged in a Russian tank battle but both sides run out of ammo, so they decide that, for one night only, no fighting "Well, it is Christmas after all, Ivan" etc etc.

A touch of snow perhaps but maybe only one or two festive tales.

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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by SID »

The main two annuals I remember getting from 1971 onwards were The Dandy and The Beano books (The Dandys I have kept to this day and still buy). Like others here, they have sentimental value as it was my late parents who bought them each Christmas. If I remember correctly, it was only when I left school and started work did I take over.

Of course they got me other annuals back in the 70s.

Personally as a child, I loved the stories having Christmas theme especially if they were humour strips. The adventure strips I didn't mind being neutral.

One thing I always remember waiting for the elusive Cracker Book at the time Cracker was being published. Whereas I was pleasantly surprised when no sooner had 2000AD had come out but there was an annual the very same year. Of course, as an adult I understand but as a child, I was really disappointed.
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Bethanys grandad »

A christmas annual was something I never got as a child, got every comic that I wanted but my dad would not for some reason buy annuals for me or my sister, the only time I ever got one was if I got it from a school jumble sale, when I had children I made sure that as part of their christmas haul of goodies a nice selection of annuals was included , and this year I shall get my grand daughter a Peppa Pig book. I must admit that as an adult I have been albe to get many of the classic late 50s and 60s books I wished for as a child

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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by starscape »

There were also some really terrible annuals. The final ones of Starlord, Tornado, Action. All mind-stunningly poor. Just cobbled together with boring articles, with sub-standard tales (both art and story). Simply there for money, never mind the disappointment of kids on Xmas Day getting something so poor.

Mind you, at least they were out unlike DCT, that never put out, as well as Cracker, the likes of Bullet, The Crunch, Buddy, Spike etc. Wonder why as Fleetway got out annuals as soon as they could, even for years after the comics had folded?

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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Lew Stringer »

starscape wrote:There were also some really terrible annuals. The final ones of Starlord, Tornado, Action. All mind-stunningly poor. Just cobbled together with boring articles, with sub-standard tales (both art and story). Simply there for money, never mind the disappointment of kids on Xmas Day getting something so poor.

Mind you, at least they were out unlike DCT, that never put out, as well as Cracker, the likes of Bullet, The Crunch, Buddy, Spike etc. Wonder why as Fleetway got out annuals as soon as they could, even for years after the comics had folded?
I think it was just down to DCT being more cautious. None of those titles you mention were around for long, so perhaps Thomsons felt they didn't justify having their own annuals. (That said, The Hornet never had its own annual, oddly enough, despite the weekly running for many years.)

IPC/Fleetway could afford to bung out more annuals because they used so much reprint material in them, and most pages were in black and white on cheap paper, so the production costs were probably much lower than Thomson's all-new, all-colour, nicer paper books.

The reason IPC/Fleetway kept annual titles (and Holiday Specials) running long after the weeklies had folded was simply because they were selling well, according to an editor I once asked about it. As sales declined, they dropped them one by one.
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Phoenix »

philcom55 wrote:Auntie Una used to buy the latest Rupert Annual as a Christmas present
I was never that lucky, but I loved Rupert and his friends and family. I still do. There was something weirdly comforting about it all. I've got two actual annuals, the 1945 one, of which there's no facsimile, and the 1946 one, plus eight facsimiles, and I do look through them from time to time.

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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by SID »

As a kid, I always found Rupert books special at Christmas and to a degree I still do. So much so that I buy a copy for each of my granddaughters every year.
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Lew Stringer »

SID wrote:As a kid, I always found Rupert books special at Christmas and to a degree I still do. So much so that I buy a copy for each of my granddaughters every year.
I'm probably in the minority here but I've never read a Rupert Annual, and have only seen a few of the strips. It was just never part of my Dandy/TV21/Wham/Marvel Comics childhood but I had loads of other annuals so it's not like I feel I missed out or anything.
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Re: An Annual for Xmas - A Xmas Annual?

Post by Ginger »

I used to love the Rupert annuals. Phoenix's 'weirdly comforting' expresses it rather well.
There's a real old-fashioned charm about it all.
I have to admit though I've fallen out of touch with the scarf-wearing bear. I have quite a few of the books, but they've been relegated to the attic for some years (I haven't quite been able to bring myself to get rid of them) Perhaps this conversation will inspire me to get them down and reacquaint myself with them.
I actually had no idea he's still going, though Sid's post tells me he is, at least in book form. Does anyone know if he still appears in the Express as a strip?

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