Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Saga of Mammoth Annual NN (#1)

To recap: I mentioned yesterday that I have purchased a Mammoth Annual NN/#1, and that it contains Century #’s 1, 5 and 7, all from 1956.

The cover illustration includes a Christmas pudding, so one would assume the issue was published late/December 1956.

But, as so often happens with K.G. Murray comics, there’s a wrinkle or two to the story.

My friend Anthony Gillies also has a copy of this Mammoth Annual, but his copy contains Century #’s 9 and 10, and The Hundred #11 - all from 1957.

The Hundred #11 is from circa September 1957. This means there is more than 12 months between the publication of Century #1 (in my copy) and Hundred #11 (in Anthony’s copy). To the best of my knowledge, the contents of any Mammoth Annual (or Gigantic Annual) are from the preceding 12 months.

To repeat the question I posed yesterday:
Is Mammoth Annual NN/#1 from 1956, or 1957? Or - were there two unnumbered editions, one from 1956, the other from 1957?

There is no doubt Anthony’s copy is from 1957. Apart from the contents, there is also an advertisement for this issue which ran in K.G. Murray comics in 1957 – I have spotted one in My Greatest Adventure # 33 from December 1957.

However, I am considering my copy is possibly a 1956 publication. This is mainly based on the contents, and is not conclusive.

If it is not from December 1956, it also seems unlikely to me that it is from December 1957, as two of the issues would be well over 12 months old by that time. Of course, it could be from early 1957, but this does not tally with the Christmas theme.

If my copy is from 1956 it means the ‘first’ Mammoth Annual was published two years in succession. This may be irregular, but it is also plausible - it may have been intended as a one-off in 1956, and thus unnumbered. This is the period in which the new formats were being tried, so tentative experimentation with new unnumbered titles was not uncommon eg. Mammoth Comic Annual and Colossal Comic Annual.

Further, if the 1956 'trial edition' was a surprise hit, the publishers may have felt a subsequent edition warranted some advertising to capitalise on the success, hence the 1957 advertisement.

Publication in 1956 would also support the argument posed earlier that Mammoth Comic Annual NN/#1 may have been published earlier than the Christmas period in 1956.

Having said that, this is just guesswork. The only thing that is conclusive is that there was a Mammoth Annual NN/#1 in 1957.

Fine so far, right? And yet, there is a further twist to this story.

As if the possibility of two editions of the first Mammoth Annual is not enough to frazzle the intrepid K.G. Murray comics forensics experts, imagine the impact of a third edition of this cover!

Sure enough, there is another Mammoth issue with virtually the same cover (pictured above). This one is numbered “2”. It is distinguished not only by the number, but a price alteration (4’- rather than 5’-) and another small detail - - the Christmas pudding is replaced by a birthday cake (the glass next to the pudding is also replaced by a bottle). There are also some slight differences in the colouring (see Rex and Detective Chimp (?)).

To distinguish the two covers I’ll refer to them as either the “pudding” or “cake” covers.

The contents of my “cake” copy are:

Mighty Comic #11, May 1959
The Hundred Comic Monthly #32, June 1959
Unidentified issue – lead story The Challengers of the Unknown: ”The Menace of the Invincible Challenger” - presumably also a 1959 issue.

So – a 1959 #2 issue with an almost identical cover!
My copy was printed in New Zealand. That is, the rebound comics are each printed in NZ. Presumably there is a NZ No. 1 – I wonder what the cover image is on that one? A “pudding” cover?

I believe there is also a UK edition as per James’ listing, and I’d be curious to know whether its contents were printed in the UK. James’ index lists it as circa 1960, so it is possible the UK edition was issued after the NZ edition. However, it may also be a 1959 issue as per the NZ copy.

Anyway, as it stands, I now believe the Mammoths stack up like this:

1956: Mammoth Comic Annual NN/#1 Olympic rings cover
1958: Mammoth Annual NN/#2 sleigh cover
1959: Mammoth Annual #2 NZ (& UK?) cake cover
1959:Mammoth Comic Annual NN/#2 carols cover
1960: No Mammoth known
1961: No Mammoth known
1962: Mammoth Annual #3
1963-1973: #4 - #14

I’d like to acknowledge the contributions of Mark Cannon and James Zanotto, two gentlemen who are always happy to respond to a comics query, and offer their expertise with goodwill; Mark Muller for help in identifying certain issues at very short notice; and especially Anthony Gillies, who first notified me some six months ago that something was ‘amiss’ with what we thought was Mammoth Annual #2, and promptly shared his findings based on his 1957 copy.

Also note the picture of the Mammoth Annual #2 accompanying this entry is sourced from James' site - it is a much clearer image than my ratty copy, and substantially better to use for this comparative exercise.

Oh, and if anyone has any idea which K.G. Murray issue begins with ”The Menace of the Invincible Challenger” circa 1959…

1 comment:

spiros xenos said...

Update: The unidentified issue featuring "Invincible Challenger" is The Hundred Comic Monthly #30 c. March 1959.