Monday, 11 December 2017

Nostalgic For My Childhood - Christmas Annuals

"Christmas is coming!"
Me & Tracy, Christmas 1977 - look at how chuffed I am, I've got the new Look-In annual AND the Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino!
One of the highlights of Christmas when I was a kid (beyond the catalogues I wrote about last year) was seeing which annual I got that particular year.  To those who don’t know (it might be a peculiarly British thing, I’m not sure the same format is available in the US), Christmas annuals were (and remain) large size hardback books, designed for children and based on existing properties.  Back when I was a kid, this included a variety of comics, popular TV shows of the time (I wonder how many kids fell over themselves for The Sweeney and Kojak annuals?), the occasional film as well as sport and pop round-ups.

The ones based on comics featured the same cast as the weekly editions, mostly in new adventures, while the TV and film ones had comic strips, the occasional short story, fact files and interviews and - brilliantly - in the case of The Fall Guy, behind the scenes information on stunts and how they were filmed.

Annuals are generally published towards the end of the year, cover-dated as the following year (so that Look-In annual above is classed as the 1978 one), to ensure shops don't take them off the shelves immediately after the new year (though, by then, unsold copies are often heavily reduced).  Still as popular now - you tend to see fewer relating to ongoing comics (perhaps because kids today don't have the range of comics we had) - the only difference seems to be that they're much skinnier (and that's not just me being all nostalgically misty about it - my ones from the late 70s and early 80s are substantially chunkier than the ones I’ve bought for Dude over the past few years).  I haven’t bought one for myself in years (the only ones that vaguely interest me relate to Star Wars and none of them have snagged my interest when I’ve glanced at them in shops) but I have enjoyed the odd read of his (Pokemon was a favourite for a long time, now supplanted by Match Of The Day).  I did, however, buy the compilation one of Look-In magazine that was put out a few years back but the interest there was in the re-printing of old comic strips and articles.

Here, then, are a selection of old favourites, ones that I received and ones I remember my sister Tracy having.  I hope some of them inspire a warm, nostalgic trip down memory lane for you...
1975
This is the first annual I remember, though I'd have been 5 during Christmas 1974 when it was originally published, so my memory must come from re-reads, I imagine.
1976
I was a huge fan of the TV series but the highlight of this annual, for me, was the 4 page article about John Chambers' make-up and showing how Roddy McDowall was transformed into Galen (probably the first behind-the-scenes thing I ever read).
1976
To be honest, I can't remember anything about this show and I wish I could.  The annual has several pages of magic tricks, clearly designed (and carefully explained) for kids, which I recall 'entertaining' family with at several Christmas get-togethers...
1977
My childhood hero, in book format
1978
I was a big fan of Look-In magazines (The Junior TV Times), as I wrote about here.
1978
I loved The Beano.  The Bash Street Kids (the cover stars here) got their own annual starting in 1980 and running through to 2010.
1978
Tracy was a huge fan of horses (she later worked with them and rode competitively) and Black Beauty was one of her favourites
1979
For 9 year old me, Return Of The Saint was one of the coolest things on TV - that car, the job and that fantastic opening theme tune.  I knew of the Roger Moore version, but that seemed very static compared to this.  The annual is a bit disappointing though, to be honest, filled with not-very-good-at-all artwork.
1979
I started watching the TV show because of Farrah Fawcett (wife of Lee) Majors and it was good fun.  I always liked Kate Jackson best though.
1979
The "seven-penny nightmare" comic writ large.  I have nothing but fond (and gore-streaked) memories of this!
1979
Wonderfully spooky - marketed towards girls, though boys comics also had spooky stories in them, I liked this
1980
The weekly funny comic that supplanted The Beano for me.
1980
Me and my friends loved this show but, bearing in mind how much our parents did too, I wonder now just how much of it went sailing over our heads...
1980
I love the fact that the songsheet the girl on the left is holding is the same picture, except she's getting splatted by a snowball
1981
A popular US TV show that I only barely remember now but Tracy, who loved monkeys, really enjoyed it and I used to watch it with her.
1981
Although I'd started reading 2000AD when it was first launched in 1977, I graduated to Starlord which began in 1978 (both were published by IPC).  Costing slightly more (though the better selling of the two titles), it had higher production costs and rather than split the market, it was absorbed into 2000AD in 1978 (though annuals continued until 1981, cover-dated as 1982).  This often happened during my childhood, favoured comics being gobbled up by bigger name titles, with all of my favourite strips gradually being phased out.
1981
More ponies!
1981
Top Of The Pops!  Debbie Harry!
1981
The Professionals (which began in 1977) was clearly aimed at an adult audience but much-loved by kids like me, who enjoyed the running, shooting and vehicular mayhem - hence the annual.
1982
Tucker!  And the gorgeous Cathy Hargreaves (bottom left) played by Lyndy Brill
1982
One of my favourite TV shows (which I've written about before - as a retrospective here and as part of my recuperation from my heart attack here) - Lee Majors, Heather Thomas, behind-the-scenes stuff and lots of stunts!  The annual is good fun too, with some interesting articles and a spooky short story.

scans from my collection, aside from Charlie's Angels, Misty, Tammy and Judy (thanks to comicvine for those)

You can read more of my nostalgia posts here

2 comments:

  1. Awesome annuals!
    I had Sindy, Rupert, Twinkle, Look-in and Animal Crackers! Later, we had Beano, Dandy, Oink, Smash Hits and Number 1.

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