They might have just been comics but, with their painted covers, extra pages, features, articles and lushly monochrome artwork, they seemed so much more grown-up than any comic had a right to be.
I had ten of them, which by an incredible coincidence just happen to be the ten pictured to the left of this very post.
As you may have guessed The Savage Sword of Conan made a big impression on me and I made sure to get any issue of it I laid my eyes on. If any comic strip was ever suited to such a format, it had to be the adventures of the Hibernian hackmeister.
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala's adaptation of Iron Shadows in the Moon was a classic of the genre, with a level of illustration that couldn't fail to blow the mind of any unsuspecting ten year old who might encounter it for the first time.
But the duo's The Citadel at the Center of Time and Alex Nino's The Lurkers Below ran it close when it came to Steve appeal.
I got all three issues that I owned of The Rampaging Hulk during one summer holiday, and its tales of the Hulk's wilderness years between the cancellation of his original comic and his reappearance in Tales To Astonish always tickled my fancy at the time, even if the stories were lumbered with surely the worst race of evil aliens ever inflicted upon comicdom, and the backup strip Bloodstone meant nothing to me.
Of the ten mags I had, Monsters Unleashed #11 was probably the weakest, featuring a bandwagon-jumping exorcist and the adventures of a Komodo dragon.
Meanwhile, even though it could only be viewed as an emergency issue - cobbled together from unfinished tales, Jan of the Jungle and a Ka-Zar reprint - with its Neal Adams cover, Savage Tales #6 always grabbed me mightily.
The black and white mags were a venture by Marvel into a more adult market, one that ultimately failed in not just its commercial aim but also its artistic one, in that they were barely more adult than the full-colour monthlies. What nudity there was could mostly only be labelled, "coy," strategically placed hair often being the order of the day. Genuine emotional and intellectual depth was mostly absent. And it would appear, from the editorials that accompanied the Savage Tales and Monsters Unleashed issues, that actually scraping together enough material to fill them in time for the deadline was a major problem.
The Savage Sword of Conan, of course, was a massive success, running for a zillion years before Marvel finally went mad and relinquished their rights to the character. Marvel's other black and white mags mostly struggled to make it into double figures before the plug was pulled. Could they have succeeded if they had indeed been more adult, or did the lack of colour mean they were always doomed to struggle in an American market that took multi-hued heroes for granted? I don't have a clue but I do know that, whatever their failings, they were fun while they lasted.