Friday, August 30, 2013

Marvel's Most UNUSUAL 1960's Annual

As summer winds down, my thoughts often drift to childhood, circa the mid-late 1960's, specifically July and August, when school was a distant memory and a walk to the neighborhood candy store offered the additional anticipation of purchasing a big, fat Annual. Marvel produced its share of truly SPECIAL Annuals in that period, which not only featured exciting, longer stories, but a variety of special features. Creators included Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Dick Ayers, Larry Lieber, John Romita, Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Don Heck, who often did their best to provide fans with a roller coaster ride, all at the cost of twenty five cents.

The BIG Millie the Model Annual # 1 had the distinction of being the first of two titles to receive a summer edition, the other being Strange Tales Annual # 1, reprinting Jack Kirby drawn monster tales. Both Annual debuted in June, 1962. Stan Goldberg cover art and coloring. Artie Simek lettering.    

While the superhero titles were given the most publicity (and sold to a large contingent of males) there were OTHER Marvel Annuals, the ones most boys didn't have much interest in, although a few probably sneaked a peek at their sisters comics. Millie the Model was one of Marvel's earliest Annuals and, judging from its longevity, was one of their best sellers. Millie ran uninterrupted for nine years (1962-1971), a record that puts it in the ranks of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man and Sgt. Fury. After a two-year hiatus in 1972-73 (when Marvel severely cut production of Annuals, likely due more to time constraints and the amount of product they were publishing) Millie returned for two more reprint specials in 1974-75. In addition Mad about Millie and Chili Specials were both represented in 1971, albeit in reprint form.

Just as Marvel included special events in their superhero Annuals, the same occurred in the "girl" line. Millie the Model Annual  # 4, 1965, subtitled:  "the most gorgeous girl in all the world!" has the fashion queen traveling around the world in a full-length extravaganza. Millie, is, of course, a QUEEN size Annual, with glamour substituting for thrills in the cover copy. Stan Goldberg pencils, possible inks and colors; Sam Rosen letters. The interior story is by Stan Lee and Al Hartley, with art by Goldberg with possible inking assistance by Sol Brodsky.   

Millie's Annual also included features that appeared in the monthly title, such as clothing designs and hair styles sent in by fans, pages YOU can color, and a special feature that Stan Lee copied from his other Annuals, pin-ups. Here Lee uses those pages to reference past guest-stars in Millie's comics, sans commentary but with a pointer displaying the original cover.      
The long-running Patsy and Hedy was granted a single Annual in the summer of 1963, consisting of reprinted material.

Patsy and Hedy Annual # 1 and only, art by Al Hartley, lettering by Sam Rosen, coloring likely by Stan Goldberg. 

The most unusual Annual, however, appeared in the summer of 1965 

 Patsy Walker's Fashion Parade # 1, Summer 1965, Al Hartley pencils, Frank Giacoia inks?, Sam Rosen letters.

What's so unusual about this annual? There are no stories featuring Patsy, Hedy or any of her cast of characters. The entire issue consists solely of dress designs, hair styles, riddles and activity pages, all no more than one page.

 The splash page of Patsy's Fashion Parade introduces readers to the book. This appears to be a new page by Stan Lee and Al Hartley (and Sam Rosen lettering, for those of you who just HAD to know!)

Sue Storm never looked like THIS in the Fantastic Four! Because these comics were intended for girls, it was ok to show them in lingerie. If only us boys knew, sales would surely have escalated! Al Hartley pencils; Frank Giacoia inks; Terry Szenics lettering. Copy likely by Lee's corresponding Secretary, "Fabulous" Flo Steinberg.  

Here Lee gives a nod to "Adorable Al Hartley" whose art appears throughout the issue. Aside from the splash page, the rest of the issue appears to be material reprinted from early issues of Patsy Walker and/or Patsy and Hedy, with some new copy added.

An attractive, humorous page by Stan Lee and Al Hartley, one of the few to feature dialogue or scenery.

A Patsy coloring page. Stan Lee occasionally included pages like this in his western titles. It's too bad we didn't get similar pages in the monster books. I would have loved to color Spragg, the Living Hill!

I'll close out this post with an ad for the girl line that appeared in the Annual. It's always interesting to discover unusual titles, and it got me to wondering what a Marvel Tales Annual would have looked like in the same format in 1965, consisting only of special features, pin-ups and diagrams of the various heroes, villains and supporting characters, with art by Kirby, Ditko, Wood, Colan, Heck, Ayers, Roth and Powell. I suspect it would have been - as they used to say - a collectors item.

Many of the images displayed are from the collection - and scanned with the permission of - that darling of Timely-Atlas, Michael J. Vassallo!      


Artizania said...

Love it! :-D

Nick Caputo said...

Thanks, Artizania!

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

I think you've just identified the best way to market a collected edition for Patsy. It would probably sell better than put out as "Essential Hellcat before she was Hellcat".

Nick Caputo said...

Hi Tim,

You mean the most unusual heading or using cover images of Patsy in lingerie? :)

Don Hudson said...

I really love how the contributing fans got credit. If I thought that I could send in a suggestion to Iron Man and get on the credits page I would have!

Kid said...

Women in underwear. What's not to like?

Dr. Mindbender said...

Makes me wonder why Sue Storm or The Wasp were never spun off into their own more "girl friendly" books