Neglected Number Ones: DC Annuals from the 1960s

by Blaise Tassone

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We all know that first issues have a kind of appeal and prestige that later numbers in a comic’s run do not. There’s something special about seeing a number one on the cover of a title. When it comes to Golden or Silver Age comics, most first issues are priced far above the average collector’s budget. In this post, I’ll discuss some still affordable number one issues that may increase in value in the coming years, the DC 80- page annual edition comics from the 1960s.

Lately, I’ve been seeking out these forgotten gems since they can often be found for a great deal. Although we take them for granted today, the most famous superhero titles did not always have a yearly over-sized annual issue. The history of the annual goes back to the early 1960s.

It started out as a marketing gimmick. Everybody loves a bargain, right? Well, what could be a better bargain than getting 80 pages for 25 cents? Remember in 1960 the average comic cost 10 cents and for that, you usually got 32 pages. With 80 pages for just over double the price, DC must have reasoned that they would sell many copies to kids who loved getting more for less.

As recorded here, these comics consistent mostly of reprinted stories:

The first foray into over-sized comics goes to DC Comics, which began the concept of the 80 page Annual in 1960, even though they printed these ‘Annuals’ twice a year for characters like Superman. From 1960 to 1964 DC released 22 Annuals which consisted of reprinted material starring characters like Superman, Batman, Flash, Rudolph, Sgt. Rock, and Lois Lane.”

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Superman Annual #1 (August 1960) – First DC Silver Age Annual

Superman was DC’s King of the Silver Age. In fact, he also dominated the Golden Age and was, effectively, the central character who represented the DC brand for much of its history. In the old days, DC used to even write “Superman National Comics” on each issue it published. When we turn our focus to Silver Age Annuals, there’s no comic more iconic or significant than the Superman Annual #1.

Not only is this comic the very first annual published by DC in the Silver Age, but it also contains the first reprint of “The Supergirl from Krypton” (originally published in Action Comics #252,) as well as a novelty two-page map of Krypton. With its colorful Curt Swan cover, this comic is worth seeking out. Currently, a 7.5 graded copy will cost you just over $300.00. Try getting another Superman key issue from the early 60s at that grade for that price.

 

 

 

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Batman Annual #1 (July 1961) – First Annual of Series

Batman is DC’s other superstar, and like Superman, he was a best seller for DC in the Golden Age. The Silver Age was not as kind to Batman, but by the late sixties, sales on his comics would again pick up, mainly due to the popularity of the Batman TV show. This annual also boasts a cover by Curt Swan and is basically all reprinted stories. Among the more popular are the Secrets of Batman’s Utility Belt and the Batarang feature, as well as “The Origin of the Bat-Cave!” story written by the great Bat-scribe Bill Finger. An 8.0 graded copy of this annual will currently sell for between $320.00- $375.00.

 

 

 

 

 

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Flash Annual #1 (July 1963) – First Flash Annual

The Scarlet Speedster is another DC fan favorite. It didn’t take long before DC reprinted some of his iconic stories in the Annual format. This comic contains a reprint of the first appearance of Kid Flash and the first Elongated Man stories. It also reprints the classic first Gorilla Grodd story. The Flash was the fifth DC super-hero to have an annual published, after Superman, Batman, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane (if we don’t count Sgt. Rock’s Giant-Size Prize Tales, from December 1963, as a super-hero title). An 8.0 graded copy today can be found today for around $280.00, but they can often go for less especially raw. Keep an eye open for bargains. Also, remember that there’s a Flash movie due out in 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

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