Sunday, August 19, 2012


Fairly early on in the game Martin Goodman and Stan Lee realized that they could make a heapin' helpin' of extra cash by reprinting the superhero stories that Kirby and Ditko had made so popular. Fans were pouring into the Marvel Universe by the truckload every hour. Many of them had no access to back issues and were hungry for the earlier books that they had missed.

Therefore, the publisher decided to begin reprinting those early appearances. It didn't take long for them to start doing this, recognizing that there was an untapped income stream in doing so. Enter MARVEL TALES ANNUAL #1. This book reprinted the origin stories from the very earliest appearances of the following characters:

The Amazing Spider-Man, created, written, and illustrated by Steve Ditko (from Amazing Fantasy #15).

The Incredible Hulk, created, written, and illustrated by Jack Kirby (from The Incredible Hulk #1).

Ant Man, created, written, and illustrated by Jack Kirby (from Tales to Astonish #35).

Giant Man and the Wasp, created, written, and illustrated by Jack Kirby (finishes by Dick Ayers) from Tales to Astonish #49.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, created, written, and illustrated by Jack Kirby (from Sgt. Fury #1).

Iron Man created and written by Jack Kirby with art over Jack Kirby layouts by Don Heck (from Tales of Suspense #39).

Iron Man's new armor created, written, and illustrated by Steve Ditko (from Tales of Suspense #48).

The Mighty Thor created, written, and illustrated by Jack Kirby (from Journey Into Mystery #83). 

That was a heck of a package of great Kirby and Ditko superhero stories to be collected into one square bound 72-page comic book. A real treasure for the fans who had missed the initial boat.

My copy of Marvel Tales Annual #1.


Kirk G said...

To my memory, this was heavily promoted when it came out, and was one half of a pair of squarebound 25 cent books that featured origins. The other would have been Marvel Super-Heroes #1. Though I had found used copies of Marvel Tales and Marvel Super-Heroes and Marvel Collector Item Classics, I never ever found a copy of this first annual/issue. What a plum this would have been to jumpstart new fans' interests. It was SO HARD to find back issues as a kid. Your only options were: trade the neighbor, steal your older brother's issue, hunt down the old tattered copies still in the barber shop, grocery store, or find a used bookstore or goodwill store that had comics in a cardboard box. There were no comic shops, no backing boards, milars, internet or fan publications. The letter's pages saw the start of fans contacting fans and that grew into fandom.

HemlockMan said...

When I was a kid, my dad owned a great used bookstore. Within literally months after he had opened it he had accumulated many tens of thousands of back issues. After about a year he had over 100K of them and within two years a quarter of a million comics. And we're talking about the Silver Age when he was buying them, so you can imagine what was socked away in the warehouse.

So back issues was never a problem for me. That's why I grew up being able to read everything from every publisher. I would say that there was hardly a comic published between the mid 50s and the mid 60s that I didn't at least have a chance to read.