Friday, December 03, 2004

"It's Just A Fantasy"


Back in the Summer of '65, Marvel published their second annual edition of Marvel Tales Annual. As usual, it contained reprints of various 1st. app.'s and/or origins of some of their characters, but as an addition that year they reprinted a Steve Ditko fantasy story that had appeared a few years earlier in their defunct Amazing Adult Fantasy title. To my knowledge, that was the first time Marvel had reprinted one of their old fantasy tales. A little later on in the 1960's, they created a new title called Fantasy Masterpieces which was totally devoted to reprinting such stories from a time before such heroes as Iron Man, of The X-men were in existence. Of course, I loved them! All of those hokey monstery and fantasy tales by the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Don Heck (and others) were great! To my disapointment, however, with issue #3 of that title, Marvel changed the format from a 12 cent comic to a 25 cent Giant. The fantasy tales were pushed to the back and Golden-Age stories of Captain America (and others) were reprinted. It's not that I didn't love the G-Age tales; I did and still do, but I'd rather seen a seperate book devoted entirely to that.
Then, Fantasy Masterpieces was changed again, title-wise, to Marvel Super-Heroes and the super-hero reprints from the 1940's and 50's took the place of fantasy tales and new material was added as the headliner. That title went on far into the 1970's eventually being composed of reprints of "The Incredible Hulk" from issues of Tales to Astonish as well as his own title (which had continued from TTA). So after a while, the fantasy reprints pretty much stopped, but then Marvel created new horror-fantasy type books such as Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness. These led into another wave of fantasy reprint stuff in the early 70's so I was once again back in seven-heaven with titles the likes of Where Monsters Dwell and Where Creatures Roam devoted entirely to my much loved Ditko and Kirby fantasy classics. But, all good things come to an end. These titles in the latter 70's all either were discontinued or changed or new characters from Marvel took them over, or characters were adapted from sf and fantasy literature, like "Gullivar Jones", and "Thongar", or even Marvel's own "Man-Thing" and "Man-Wolf". The fantasy tales went into hiatus for a good while there.

Then around 1990, Marvel did a trade paperback reprint of fantasy tales. Not sure "why" they credited the stories as being from the reprint titles rather than the originals, but they did. It was a nice little collection, but nothing big time ever became of it. Later on still Marvel did a couple more short-lived fantasy reprint titles. Still, nadda results from the fans I think. And today, I'd like to see one of their "Essentials" tpb devoted soley to the fantasy reprints. maybe "someday" they'll do one.

So? What has any of this have to do with "anything". Well for years I've tried to collect all of the various fantasy reprint titles; in fact, here recently I aquired around another 40 different issues of such and figured I must have fairly close now to a full set? No way!

Although I probably have 150 issues of their various titles that reprint both the fantasy stuff as well as some of the 1950's "horror" type stories (titles like "Beware" and "Vault of Evil"), there must be at least that many more that I don't have! In fact, I estimate Marvel having put out about 300 issues of various titles of such. And realize, that I'm not counting later issues of some of these that were devoted to new characters or am I counting Fantasy Masterpieces 3 thru 11 (although I DO count the titles with NEW fantasy material).

Gee. I still gotta lloooonnngggg way to go yet!

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