UK. 2000 A.D. 44. 1977. Advert for the 1978 edition 2000 A.D. annual.
The annual, a UK tradition
Each Christmas, my younger brother and I would look forward to receiving annuals. We never knew exactly which ones we’d get, but it was a certainty we’d get at least one each, sometimes two. For those who don’t know, annuals are hardback comic books released at the end of each year in time for Christmas. They typically feature new and sometimes previously published stories taken from ther soft cover counterparts. The covers are made from hard boards and feature a full-page colour image of one or more of the main characters. Inside, you will find comic strip stories alongside puzzle and colouring pages, biographies, fact-files, competitions, photos and maybe even a poster or two.
Spider-Man annuals: 1970 childhood copies and later annuals found in second-hand book shops.
The annual is traditionally released in the UK in time for Christmas. It’s a reasonably cheap and popular gift to give to children, providing hours of reading fun, and is strong and durable thanks to its hard covers. Inside, the first page will usually contain a ‘this book belongs to’ printed panel in which you can write your name. A removable price clip is added to the corner of the next page. This is sometimes removed by parents who wish to keep the cost of the annual a secret. Shhhh!
This 1969 edition of Rupert has not been inscribed or dedicated, nor has the price clip been removed – making this copy attractive to collectors.
This 1959 edition of Rupert has been inscribed and dedicated. However, The price clip has not been removed.
This 1977 edition of Rupert has been inscribed, dedicated and had its price clip removed. In addition, the child owner has added his own writing to the page. In 1977 this book would have cost around £1.
For most collectors, an annual is more prized if it’s not had its ‘this book belongs to’ completed. If the price clip hasn’t been removed – and if their are no personalised dedications written by family members – then even better! For me, I don’t mind a few annuals with these traits, as it adds some extra charm to the book. Other factors that will increase the collectable value of an annual will be colouring and puzzle pages remaining in an uncompleted state, as well as the overall condition of the book such as cover, spine, binding, edgeware, foxing, etc.
These 1980s Judge Dredd annuals are in excellent condition and have not had their price clips removed.
Thinking back to those past Christmas mornings, it was impossible for my brother and me to mistake those heavy, oblong-shaped presents concealed beneath their wrapping paper as anything other than annuals. Typical annuals given as gifts in our houshold would include popular UK comic titles such as the Beano, Dandy, Topper, Rupert Bear, and Spider-Man. Not forgetting hit TV series titles like Doctor Who, Starsky and Hutch, Space 1999, The Muppet Show, and many others. Annuals based on films, such as Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica were also a popular choice.
Star Wars annuals: childhood copies and editions found later.
Various annuals from the ’90s and 2000s.
A Rupert annual has been released every year since 1936
I only have a few annuals saved from childhood; nearly all of my collection has been scored from auction sites and book shops. My Rupert annuals are by far the largest group, and this has steadily grown into almost fifty editions. A Rupert annual has been released every year since 1936, including the war years – when hard covers were replaced by soft covers and the inside papers were printed on special ‘war economy’ paper in aid of the war effort.
A few of my Rupert annuals.
Rupert annuals. 1978 left, 1972 right.
What are your memories of annuals? Did you grow up in the UK and receive one each Christmas? What were your favourites?