Thursday, 27 December 2018


Black Max.  Images copyright relevant owner

It's funny what you think about when you look at the cover of a book or comic from your past, isn't it?  When I cast my gaze over the cover of THUNDER ANNUAL 1972, my mind jumps back to a snowy day in December 1971 when I was given a Christmas tip of 50 pence by one of the households on my paper round.  It was presented to me in an envelope marked "milk-boy", and to this day I fervently hope that the envelope meant for me had the same amount as the one I was actually presented with, lo, all those many years ago.

(I'm not quite sure what bothers me more - the thought of the milk-boy's disappointment at possibly finding only a couple of 10 pence coins, or his triumphant jubilation at perhaps discovering a £1 note - but I still find myself hoping that the kindly couple on the top floor of that block of flats held us both in equal esteem and didn't play favourites.)

And why does that particular memory spring to mind, you may be wondering?  Well, that 50 pence took care of most of the cost of the book (60p), which I bought in the newsagents I worked for when I'd completed my round for the day.  (Incidentally, I was paid £1 per week for morning and afternoon deliveries - before and after school - Monday to Friday, plus a single delivery on Saturday and Sunday - so that tip was an extremely generous one.)

The Steel Commando

The weekly THUNDER was launched on the 10th October 1970 (dated 17th) and survived for only 22 issues, the last being on the 6th March 1971 (dated 13th) - so had been absent from newsagents' shelves for several months before the Annual hit the shops.  Work on the book had probably begun towards the end of 1970 or the beginning of '71, so it seems obvious that IPC were hoping the comic would have a good long run.  Unfortunately, such optimistic aspirations were doomed to dis-appointment.

The comic was absorbed by LION, and two of the most popular strips - ADAM ETERNO and The STEEL COMMANDO (as well as others) - continued for another few years and are still fondly remembered today by readers of the time.

I didn't obtain the '73 & '74 Annuals until many years later (probably around 25 years later, in fact), being unaware of their existence at the time (my attention was probably distracted by the arrival of the MARVEL annuals), so their covers don't have quite the same significance for me as the 1972 one.  (Obviously the first Annual sold well enough to warrant further editions.)  However, for the sake of all you hungry completists out there, I herewith present all three cataclysmic covers anyway - enjoy!

Adam Eterno

See also here and here for more about Thunder.


There were no individual Holiday Specials for Thunder, alas, but the comic's name shared joint-billing on three Specials from 1971-'73, based on the weekly title (Lion) which absorbed it.  So, just because I love to spoil you, below are all three covers from these very collectable comics.


Colin Jones said...

Is the 1972 cover something to do with vampires? I mean there's a giant bat grabbing the plane and a spooky castle on the hilltop. Was all explained inside?

And I assume "Holiday Special" means Summer holiday?

Kid said...

Black Max was a First World War pilot, CJ, who had a giant bat (maybe a few of them in fact, can't quite remember) at his command. It was one of the regular strips in the weekly comic, and had a story in the Annual, hence the cover illo. Sometimes the Specials said Holiday Special, sometimes Summer Special, but they were the same thing. There were a few occasions when a comic had a Christmas Special, maybe even an Easter Special, but they were always named as such on the cover.

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