Monday, 10 December 2018

Nostalgic For My Childhood - Christmas Annuals (part 2)

"Christmas is coming!"
Me & Tracy, Christmas 1976 - I am clearly chuffed to have the Action Man game AND Evel Knieval, while TJ is pleased to have her Sindy horse (or could it really be Black Beauty?)
As I wrote about last year (you can read it here), one of the Christmas highlights when I was a kid (beyond the catalogues I wrote about in 2016) was seeing which annual I got that particular year.  For those who don't remember them, these were (and still are) large size hardback books, designed for children and based on existing properties, including comics, popular TV shows, the occasional film as well as sport and pop round-ups.

The ones based on comics featured the same cast as the weekly editions, 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 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).

Here, then, is another selection of old favourites, ones 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
Blue Peter annuals were a bit of a tradition, though this is the only one I remember ever owning.  Book One was published in 1965 and the series finished, in 2011, with Book Forty (they skipped a few random years).
1976
 Everybody..."Rupert, Rupert the bear..."
1976
I loved comics that played spooky for laughs and this cover has everything - the headless ghost scaring the poor bloke out of not only his shoes but his wig, while a dog on the doorstep kills itself with laugher.  Fantastic!
1977
As a huge fan of horses (she later worked with them and rode competitively), Black Beauty was one of Tracy's favourite TV shows and hearing that stirring music now makes me smile wistfully.
1977
 More monster related fun!
1978
I remember my friend Claire having this and it not making much sense to me - where were the comics?  Ah, the mystery of girls...
1978
Ah, my hero and a Christmas staple for me though this edition (I felt) suffered with poor artwork.  It does, however, feature an article on hijackers (more a sign of the times, I feel, than an interest for most kids).
1979
One of my all-time favourite comics (and it's still going), though surely they could have found space for Roger The Dodger on the cover?
1979
Blake's 7, a wonderfully cheap (lots of action in quarries) but fantastically imaginative  BBC show.  I haven't seen it in years (and I'm not sure I'd want to revisit it) though I remember enjoying it a lot.  I once bumped, by accident, into Gareth Thomas in a post office in Aberystwyth - I couldn't think of what to say to Blake so my Dad apologised and led me out.
1979
As happened quite often during my childhood, a favoured comic was absorbed into another, better selling title and most of the strips I liked faded over time.  Not in this case, it seems, as Kid Kong (from Monster Fun) takes centre stage here (Buster himself is to Kong's left with the green hat on).
1979
My favourite funny comic from my childhood - I still proudly own my 'Friend Of Cheeky' badge!
1979
 The Junior TV Times, this was a big favourite of mine (as I wrote about here).
1980
The year 2000 seemed so far away then - next year, we'll be as far away from it as we were when this annual came out!
1980
 Jinty does well, not spraying the icing everywhere when the kitten bursts the balloon, doesn't she?
1980
Tracy loved Thelwell and his wonderful artwork of small children (often girls) on little rounded ponies.
1981
 Targeted at girls, beloved by them and boys alike!
1982
1982
1983
One of my favourite TV shows (I've written about it before, as a retrospective here and as part of my recuperation from my heart attack here) and this is a terrific annual - great artwork, good features and a spooky short story.
1984
Another of Tracy's favourites, I love the artwork of this cover.


Happy Christmas!


scans from my collection, aside from the girls titles (thanks to comicvine for those)

You can read more of my nostalgia posts here

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