Sunday, 23 December 2018

1978's Marvel UK Annuals for 1979.

What were you doing on Christmas Day 1978?

I know what I was doing. I was playing with my Christmas presents and watching TV.

Yes, those were the days when you'd watch whatever was on television, no matter how bad it was, because they hadn't invented the Internet yet and you didn't have a choice.

But just what were we watching?

That morning, ITV gave us Christmas Clapperboard which I would assume was presented, as normal, by Chris Kelly.

At noon, the channel gave us Living Free, the sequel to Born Free, followed by the no-doubt thrilling Christmas Day at Crossroads Motel. I do always feel they should have done a crossover between the Crossroads Motel and the Bates Motel, in order to make it more fun.

Mid afternoon, ITV gave us Battle for the Planet of the Apes and their early evening film was Diamonds Are Forever.

That was followed by The Morecambe and Wise Show, guest-starring Harold Wilson.

Most promisingly, late night, my local ITV station was showing Twist in the Tale. I suspect this may have been a retitled broadcast of the 1977 show Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected but cannot guarantee that.

BBC Two, that afternoon, was broadcasting an adaptation of The Snow Queen.

That evening, it treated us to the not noticeably Christmassy Anne Hughes: Her Boke, in wiche I Write what I Doe, When I Have thee Tyme. Apparently, in the 18th Century, a young farmer's wife wrote a diary. She wrote about her cooking, her quarrels, her butter making and the love story of her maid, and this film re-created it all.

Later on, the channel gave us Fred and Ginger in Swing Time. I must confess I do associate Christmas more with Fred and Ginger than I do with 18th Century farmers' wives.

Meanwhile, that morning, BBC One was treating us to The Spinners at Christmas. They were, of course, the UK Spinners, not to be confused with the US Spinners who were always referred to in Britain as the Detroit Spinners to avoid confusion. It is a strange thing that, all these years later, my only memory of the Spinners is of them doing blood transfusion adverts.

Later that morning, that selfsame channel treated us to Elvis Presley's Clambake. I'm not an expert on The King's cinematic oeuvre but isn't that supposed to be his worst ever celluloid outing?

Early afternoon, before he went completely weird, Noel Edmonds introduced Top of the Pops '78.

Around teatime, the channel gave us the first ever UK television screening of The Sound of Music. This brings back strong memories for me, as I do remember building a Meccano clock while it was on.

Sometime after that, we got The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show. Poor Mike does tend to get a lot of stick these days because all his impressions basically sounded like Mike Yarwood but, let's be honest, all our impressions of famous people from the 1970s are based on his impressions of famous people from the 1970s, rather than on what those people actually sounded like. That's how much impact he had.

After that we got True Grit? A Further Adventure, a TV movie about which I know nothing but it starred Warren Oates as Rooster J. Cogburn.

Later that night, we got the nightmarish sounding Parkinson at the Pantomime, as Michael Parkinson and Arthur Askey explored the world of Panto, with help from Charlie Cairoli, Les Dawson, Lauri Lupino Lane, Little and Large and Pat Kirkwood. I must confess to not previously having heard of Pat Kirkwood but a quick Google search reveals her to have been an old-style British movie star who looked strangely like Marilyn Manson.

But, of course, for all Horror fans and traditionalists, the highlight of BBC One's Christmas Day schedule was bound to be that year's Christmas Ghost Story which was The Ice House by John Bowen. I've no memory of it at all but I can pretty much guarantee I must have watched it. After all, who could turn down the chance to watch a ghost story on Christmas Day?

Well, that was all spiffing and dandy but, before we could sit through all that, we had to read that year's Marvel UK annuals.

And these are what they were:

Marvel UK, Fantastic Four Annual 1979

Up until researching this post, I never even knew this annual existed.

I do now know that, in its first tale, something's changed human history and the FF have to go back in time to team up with the Invaders, in order to prevent the Nazis winning World War II.

Many will be happy to know this tale's drawn by John Buscema and not Frank Robbins. It had originally appeared in the US Fantastic Four Annual #11.

The book's other tale would appear to feature the FF's Human Torch fighting his Golden Age predecessor in the Mad Thinker driven tale that originally appeared in The Fantastic Four Annual #4.

Marvel UK, Incredible Hulk Annual 1979

And here's another one whose existence I was previously unaware of.

As far as I can make out, it reprints the Hulk's first encounter with the Inhumans, from Incredible Hulk King-Size Special #1, the one with the Jim Steranko cover depicting the Hulk straining to support his own name on his back.

The second tale looks to be from The Defenders #52, in which a dodgy Russian called Sergei is plotting to turn himself and the Red Guardian into god-like super-beings.

The story features a punch-up between the Hulk and Namor, hence the cover image.
Marvel UK, Mighty World of Marvel Annual 1979

Unlike the above annuals, I actually had this one.

If memory serves me correctly, it features a very long and not overly interesting tale in which Daredevil and the Panther team up to rescue a youthful kidnap victim, and then a shorter, more interesting tale in which the Beetle and Gladiator attack a train for some reason I can't remember.

Needless to say, the man without fear ensures the dastardly duo end up having to face justice.

The lack of any Mighty World of Marvel regulars apart from Daredevil was a major disappointment to me at the time, although I do now realise it was because the Hulk and FF had their own annuals this year, rather than appearing in their more obvious home.

Marvel UK, Spider-Man Annual 1979

I had this one as well.

This annual's taken up almost entirely by a team-up between Spider-Man and the Human Torch as they go to Hollywood in expectations of movie fame but end up having to tackle the Wizard and Mysterio who have a plan I can't remember.

I do, though, recall that it was drawn by Larry Lieber.

The rest of the book was taken up by various pin-ups, mostly drawn by John Romita, depicting such things as the gang hanging around in the Coffee Bean.

Again, it was a majorly disappointing annual, as the Spidey/Torch tale wasn't exactly awesome.

Marvel UK, Star Wars Annual #1, 1979

I'm not sure to what degree this is genuinely a Marvel UK annual but it is built around a reprint of Howard Chaykin's Marvel adaptation of the movie and features the words, "Stan Lee Presents," on its introductory page, so I assume it must have some kind of link with the company.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve, et al!

Happy Holidays! Do you UK gents tell each other Happy Boxing Day too? (Our Boxing Day is comprised of millions of maniacs going to the mall to return things and buy 2 other things at half price!)

I don't know if I ever noticed Namor blowing bubbles under water like the Annual Cover? Perhaps just those few glorious issues by Bill Everett? Help me out mates!

Also, what is DD's rope attached to, out in the middle of the river / water? DO we know how much rope is in the middle of his billy club stick? Has it ever been definitively stated? Help!

Hulk King Size #1. That Steranko cover is truly in the Hall of Fame as is Avengers King Size #2 by Buscema! The interior art is far inferior, though. I mean, talk about "sizzle" and not being able to find the dag-gone "steak! "4

Steve W. said...

A happy holiday to you too, Charlie. I can honestly say I've never heard anyone wish anyone a happy Boxing Day. Nor have I ever seen Subby blowing bubbles before. When it comes to DD's rope, I can only assume it's attached to a passing helicopter.

Killdumpster said...

Namor probably did blow bubbles when first submerged after breathing on the surface, the water replacing any excess air remaining in his lungs.

Elvis is the KING, but most of his films I find unwatchable, now as an adult.

Warren Oates was a truly underrated talent. He left us way too early. I enjoy everything he ever did. His performance in "Two-Lane Blacktop" was the only thing that saved that movie.

Christmas of '78 I got a under-dash cassette player with speakers. I immediately installed it that morning in my Ford Pinto (lol) as I had a date that night. Got my first ticket running a red-light that night also. Pretty embarrassing.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas too, KD.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas all!
K.D., I agree with you 100% about Warren Oates. A great character actor who improved any movie he was in, which is exactly what good character actors are for.
Nobody did that slow burn, simmering anger thing better than him!
Except maybe my dad.


Anonymous said...

Those annuals do look a bit rubbish Steve.
Basically, that MWOM is a Daredevil annual, right? No wonder you were disappointed.

I could never figure out why the annuals didn't run stories that could use the whole length; like, why not carry on that FF/Invaders crossover, which was continued in a US Marvel Two-in-One annual featuring the Liberty Legion (with, oddly, a third part in the monthly)?
Erm... not that thats a particularly good example; I think it was a couple of years later with the '81 annuals that they finally wised up and did stuff like a Captain America reprinting all three Steranko issues, which was a much better use of the format.

Happy Xmas/Hanukkah/Saturnalia/Winterval/other, Steve. And everyone else here too (even M.P.)


Anonymous said...

And to you, Sean.
May you and your fellow barbaric pagans up there enjoy doing whatever it is you do this time of year. I suspect it involves livestock and alcohol.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Wait... there is a UK annual with all 3 Sternako Caps? Which one? It could be easier to find on ebay than digging them out of the long boxes, lol.

Livestock and alcohol up there? Where exactly is "up there?" I want to go "down there" to stay safe!

Anonymous said...

Actually I was trying to make a poor joke about the ancient Celtic practice of sacrificing animals on certain holidays. It came out wrong and I apologize.
We Dutch, who are sort of half-assed Lutherans, usually sacrifice a pie or a large block of cheese on these occasions.
Sometimes a bottle of whiskey is passed around. That too is sacrificed.


Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, MP and Sean.

Sean, it was indeed a Daredevil annual in disguise. Even the pin-ups in it involved Daredevil.

Killdumpster said...


The barmaids at my hotel are putting out a free holiday lunch buffet today. I plan on "sacrificing" quite a few Miller Lites. Lol.

Afterwards i decided a Warren Oates marathon would be in order, including:
Cockfighter (Born To Kill)
Return of The Magnificent Seven
Race With The Devil
Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia
The Wild Bunch

During which more beer sacrifices will occur. Lol

Anonymous said...

Charlie - oops, seems it was published in '81, making it actually the '82 annual.
All three Steranko stories in a hardback book - worth picking up if you can find it at a reasonable price (just looked, and it seems some sellers on Amazon are taking the piss).
The same year they did a X-Men annual reprinting issues from the Neal Adams/Roy Thomas run.

M.P. - no worries on the livestock thing. Virgin sacrifice is actually more traditional, but no-one does it these days as you can't find any round our way.


Dougie said...

I bought that MWOM/Daredevil annual last month and have been saving it for Christmas Day.

I have been trying for years to find out more about the FF annual! I remember leafing through it in Lewis's department store in Glasgow that Xmas. I hadn't read the Torch/Quasimodo story at that time and I wonder why I passed it by. Probably thought I was too old for it at 16! Thanks for printing the cover.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, actually that should be (that kind of mistake is easy to make when you're "up" here, high as a kite)


Timothy Field said...

I seem to recall that this maybe the last year of 'good' Marvel UK annuals, were the '80 annuals published by Granddreams?

Colin Jones said...

Steve, how do you always know the ITV schedule? Is there an ITV version of BBC Genome of which I'm unaware?

The Christmas for Elvis films was 12 months previously in 1977 when the BBC showed an Elvis film most days over the Christmas holidays because, of course, the King's death in August of that year.

Of those annuals I had the Hulk and Spider-Man. Normally I didn't buy the UK Marvel annuals so I don't know what possessed me to buy TWO on this occasion (and I bought both of them myself - they weren't received as presents).

Merry Christmas, Steve, and all the readers of Steve Does Comics :)

dangermash said...

Just looked back and I'm surprised to find that Spider-Man story hasn’t appeared in the U.K. Spider-Man comic before now.

Looking back at the US Amazing Spider-Man annuals:
#1 vs Sinister Six was reprinted in the weeklies at the time it belonged
#2 with Doctor Strange vs some generic magic dabbler, ditto
#3 fights Hulk as a trial to join Avengers reprinted in weeklies but later than it belonged, with his motorbike reappearing ages aftervhe'd sold it. Maybe Marvel UK were waiting for Avengers magazine to get to the kooky quartet stage.
#4 reprinted in this hardback Annual, way too late compared to what was going on in the weeklies.
#5 Peter Parker's parents. Reprinted in hardback Annual a year or two before, again too late compared to what was going in in weeklies.

From #6, the US annuals started on reprints rather than original stories. By the time they got back to oringinals, we were into the Des Skinn era.

If it was me, I’d have reprinted the US annuals in the UK weeklies (and at the tight points in the timeline) and just filled the hardback annuals with TeamUps and Giant Size Spider-Mans (which they did at least once).

Happy Christmas everybody.

Steve W. said...

Colin, I get the ITV Christmas schedules from UK Christmas TV, which can be found here:

You're welcome, Dougie.

Timothy, I'm not totally sure when Granddreams took over the annuals.

Happy Christmas to you too, Dangermash and Colin.

TC said...

Return of the Seven was unusual for its time, since Warren Oates (1) played a heroic good guy, and (2) his character actually survived the movie. I think the True Grit/Rooster Cogburn TV movie was a backdoor pilot for a series, but I'm not 100% sure.

May you all enjoy the holiday and/or celebration of whatever is your religious, ethnic, or social group, whenever it or they might be observed, and whatever it or they may be named. And if that is not PC enough, then the hell with it.

Killdumpster said...

That was more than a good enough job, TC.

Same to you, man.

Anonymous said...

Tim, Steve - had a quick look online and yeah, Grandreams started publishing the Marvel annuals in '79 (ie for 1980)
No idea what was in most of them, but it seems they actually published two different X-Men annuals - or "collector editions" - reprinting Neal Adams work, which probably explains why I got the years mixed up earlier.
Somewhat surprised to find out they did FF annuals for '80 and '81.

Apparently they also did annuals in the '80s for TJ Hooker, the Fall Guy, Knight Rider and - something of an odd one out inn that shower of sh*t - Bladerunner, which reprinted the Al Williamson/Archie Goodwin Marvel adaptation (I shall expect you to include that when this feature gets to Dec '81 Steve!)

Btw, that Star Wars annual here was published by Brown & Watson, who also did a lot of licensed stuff too. I remember their 1978 Logan's Run annual with the illustrations and comic strips by David "V for Vendetta" Lloyd...

-sean (yes, it seems I don't have anything better to do at the moment)

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, TC.

Sean, you definitely deserve some sort of an award for all the researching you've been doing.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know that five minutes googling 'Marvel UK annuals Grandreams' really counts as "researching" Steve, but hey - feel free to give me a SteveDoesComics no-prize for Christmas if you want.


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to all my pals here. And best wishes for the new year.


Redartz said...

Merry Christmas Steve, and to all of you as well! Love to hear about those UK Annuals; wonder how they decided what stories to feature and when. Nice pair of tales in that Fantastic Four annual. Just recently picked up the US FF Annual 11 where that Invaders story appeared. Good stuff, and the Kirby story with the Original Torch is a winner too.

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Red and MP.

Sean, I hereby award you a much coveted Steve Does Comics No-Prize.

Red, I suspect that, by this point, Marvel UK just desperately used whatever they hadn't already reprinted.

Timothy Field said...

So we have the Marvel Revolution to look forward to in the new year and we'll be finishing next year on the Grandreams annuals.
I feel your writing skills will be sorely tested over the next 12 months Steve.
Merry Christmas all.

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Tim.

Next year will definitely be a challenge to my ingenuity, I agree.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - I have come to think of you (and this gang) as all-knowing on this subject. Using "challenge" and "ingenuity" in the same sentence seems incongruous to me!

Steve W. said...

Don't worry, Charlie, the "Marvel UK Revolution," could challenge the ingenuity of any human being.

Dougie said...

So, I read that MWOM DD annual on Xmas Day. The Wolfman/Claremont story with Namor & T'Challa serves none of the participants well. Did Mind-Master ever come back? He was pretty awful.
The Beetle/Gladiator story by Mantlo & Sal B was much better. There's a tiny cameo of Nova, whom I've always liked.

Aggy said...

I have that Hulk annual somewhere. From memory the second story is abbreviated, either the non-Hulk pages removed or it's only half the issue.

I always meant to find out which issue it was but never got round to it, not really being into the Defenders. Thanks for heads up I can go grab a copy now

Steve W. said...

You're welcome, Aggy, and it's nice to hear from you again. :)

Dougie, I agree with you entirely about the MWOM annual. I'd be amazed if the Mind-Master ever came back. He really did feel like a blink-and-you-missed-him villain.

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