Friday, 17 April 2009

Giant Superman Album

I bet nobody else has this book. One of the places we used to buy comics in our home town of Haverhill ( Or HaverHole. Or HaverHell. ) was a newsagents called Martins. I vividly remember my Dad taking me to work with him one day when I was about 7 or 8, to fit the carpets in a law firm directly opposite said shop. Natch, within 3.75 minutes, I was bored out of my mind, so The Old Man gave me some money to go over the road, to get something to read to keep me still.
Imagine seeing this for 25p!!
It's exactly what it says on the tin, a big bumper book of Silver Age Superman, Batman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen & Superboy stories, along with a few surprises. It was published by somebody called Top Seller, unfortunately with no publication dates on it, so I can't say for sure exactly how long I've had it.
As much as I love this book though, I have to admit that the guys at Top Seller didn't exactly put a lot of faith in quality control.
Just look at that cover: Check out Fatman & Badly Drawn BoyWonder! And as if that wasn't cheap enough, the back & front cover are actually printed upside down to the rest of the book.

The cheesiness continues inside, as, in order to cram as much material as possible into it's '250 Super Pages', the carefully formulated layouts of Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger et al. are, well, altered. Like in this classic Mort Weisinger Supes tale.

I'd say there's at least two & a half pages of artwork squashed together in there. Or what about this Lois page:

It's all over the damn place! Still a great story tho', full of Silver Age nuttiness. Here's a few more sample pages. Like this very cool Carmine Bats tale.

Or this Superboy story, where the big-hearted teen helps out a kid who desperately wants to be a superhero. I'm sure we all created our own superheroes when we were kids, drawing them on our schoolbooks and whatnot. The first one I ever did, I stole the name Supremo from this guy.

This really quite odd book seems to have sprung from something called Super DC, as you can see from the ad at the end of the Jimmy Olsen story below. If such a comic ever existed though, It certainly never made it to Haverhell.

And then there's the fact that, scattered throughout the Giant Superman Album, are loads of letters pages like this one, presumably reprinted from Super DC Monthly. Why? And if you're doing a Silver Age reprint comic, WHY HAVE THE SKIPPER PRESENT YOUR LETTERS PAGE? Talk about random...

There's even the odd clumsily inserted ( and clearly british ) strip like this one.

As well as Henry Boltinoff's Little Pete. ( They musta known my Dad had sent me over. )

As well as horrendously illustrated text stories like this one, which I've never read, and never will. British annuals were always full of rubbish like this, and I never read them either.

So how about it? Am I the only person who owns a copy of this thing? Or does anyone know anything about it? I know one thing: As badly laid out and random as it is, it's got some classic strips in it.
I'd never get rid of my copy.


  1. I don't have this annual, Pete, but I DO have quite a handful of the old Super DC comics. I never got them when they first came out, as the American comics were in huge supply at my local newsagent when I was a kid, but about four or five years ago I found a box full of tatty old British comics in a charity shop in Biggleswade ( yeah, that's right, I was in Biggleswade, I'm not proud of it, but what're you gonna do? ). most of the stuff in the box was pants, but I did manage to salvage a few dozen old Shiver & Shake ( Ken Reid! Leo Baxendale! ), a small number of the pre-Mighty World Marvel reprint comic Fantastic, and, as said, a good few Super DC's. all for a fiver!!! and, like your good self, I will NEVER shift my copies.

  2. So Super DC DID exist! You have to post some covers, now, kid, along with publication dates.

  3. Pete Could your album be bound returns of Super DC from the news trade?
    This was a practice which continued into the late 70s (And may be beyond)
    I've got "the Marvel Collection" #4 which as it says on the cover "over 200 pages, Different collectors' items in every Volume" which is Marvel UK comics stuck together with a new card cover. The new cover doesn't have a price on it.
    The comics are slightly trimmed but still have their original covers and are all from 1976 or '77
    I've also got some earlier bound DCs "Batman Double Double comics" Justice League Double double comics" from I believe Thorpe and Porter the UK distributor.
    These have 4 US comics bound together in each issue but their original covers have been removed (though I have seen some with the original covers intact)
    My aged brain tells me they were connected with Top Sellers in some way (but I could be Wrong)

  4. I know exactly the ones you mean ( I think I had some Marvel ones and a DC one with The Doom Patrol in it ), but no, I don't think this is one of those: There's no covers, the artwork is clipped & messed about ( even to the point of some unknown staffer continuing the artwork on to make the panels bigger ) & it's very much a softcover book and not a bound collection.
    The ones you're talking about, Graham, were very obviously bound returns, ( which the shops, of course, DIDN'T return ) which is a whole fascinating subject in itself, particularly as they formed the bones of the back issue market.
    If you're happy to forward me some scans of the covers of your books, I'd love to put 'em up here! ( )

  5. that annual there, Pete, is the one and only Super DC annual that was published, in 1969. Super DC ran for fourteen issues through june 1969 - july 1970, and then disappeared off the racks as swiftly and unceremoniously as it arrived.

  6. and, as Graham so rightly points out, they were, indeed, part of Thorpe & Porter's Top Sellers line.

  7. Wow. So I bought this when I was four?!!
    Obviously, I must have several memories mixed up there. Thank for that, Mr. Bloke.

  8. Oh this is getting good !! :)
    Mr bloke (can I call you Joe?) I see the pic Pete's put up of the cover has a 25p price would that be right for the annual ?
    The only copy I've got of the comic is #6 which is pre-decimal.

  9. 25p would be about right for an annual, graham. 5 bob for a comic?!!! that was a lot of pocket money back then, fella. and, yeah, please, feel free to call me Joe. it's better than a most things I get called!

  10. i remember the super dc album very well. my mum bought me this from a shop in 1974! i know this because i had only begun to read dc comics in september 1973. it took me weeks to read, as i read the stories randomly.

  11. I got mine - new - in 1974, and it was indeed re-bound copies of Super DC. It's got a decimal price on it (post 1971), so I reckon '74 is when it came out. That your cover was stuck on upside down was obviously a binder's glitch - mine is fine. The rearranging of panels was not new, Power Comics did it with their Marvel reprints in the 60s; Dez Skinn did the same when he took over Marvel UK in the late 70s - much to the annoyance of the artists. The Jolly Jack strip is by Denis Gifford, the comics historian, whose work popped up in some odd places during the 60s and 70s. Although renowned for his stuffy and conservative tastes in comics, his artwork seemed very modern for its time.
    Anyway, this is a great site, and it's a pity that not a lot seems to have been done with it for a few years.
    I'm Steve Marchant, from the Cartoon Museum, by the way.