The annual, a UK tradition
Each Christmas, my younger brother and I would look forward to receiving our annuals. We never knew exactly which titles we’d receive, but it was a certainty we’d get at least one each, sometimes two. 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 their 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.
The annual is 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 to 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!
A Rupert annual has been released every year since 1936
My Rupert annuals are by far the largest group in my collection which has steadily grown into more than 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.
For most collectors an annual is more prized if it’s not had its This book belongs to completed, the price clip reamins intact, and there are no personalised dedications written by family members. 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, page foxing, etc.
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 popular choices.