Saturday, January 10, 2009

Time Warp :
Part I - The Classic Marvel Calendars

Perhaps a more appropriate title for this series might be "Days of Future Past", but (since this is neither an X-Men nor Moody Blues fan-site,) we'll stay true to the essence of the subject...
TIME. And Time again.
It's passage, and our going back to revisit those glory years of Marvel Madness.

This is to be the first entry in a series (of three) posts about the old MARVEL CALENDARS!
(As promised a few weeks back - HERE)

Our first segment (Part I) deals with what I term the "CLASSIC" calendar series; those old 1970's - 1980's era calendars with the spiral bound pages. Those were true Marvel collectibles, as they were produced in-house. They featured amazing amounts of reference information and clips of artwork from old comics as well as all-new art and cool tidbits, such as issue particulars, creator birthdays and photographs of the many Marvel personnel; everyone from Stan Lee, the writers & artists to the production staff, receptionist and guys in the mail room.

It was that "open door" feeling that gave early Marvel fans the sense that they belonged to something special.

So, don't forget to click on the various images for larger versions!

Unfortunately, we can't show EVERY month of every year.
(That might be possible in the future, and would be one calendar year per post, which, when taking ALL of the calendars that I have in my collection, would last... nearly 20 posts. If this is well received and readers want to see it, that might be a possibility in time.)

The focus for these trips through time is to look at the various entries for Doctor Strange, Man-Thing and a select few other characters. To take a look at the artwork for those entries and reminisce of days and years gone by.

Now, let's not delay... we must go back... back... back.... in time...
To do this, we must learn the art of Time Travel...

This lesson in time travel courtesy of Doctor Strange and Clea.
Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 17 by Steve Englehart (writer) & Gene Colan (art).


We MADE it! We're back in 01975! I remember 1975... and this is it.
And here we have the cover of the FIRST Marvel Calendar!

art by John Romita Sr.
Thor, Dracula, Hulk, Captain America, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Thing, Conan and Spider-Man

The interior "contents page" which gave a brief overview of the year at a glance, and showcased what month would feature what character(s).


February is Doctor Strange and the Defenders
Doc was drawn by Frank Brunner.
(with the Defenders Namor, Hulk, Nighthawk and Valkyrie vignettes either as cut&pasted art - mostly By Romita Sr. or traced by Brunner into place.)

And the calendar page for February as well.
Check out the daily goodies.


Here's a single day panel from March 22nd that has always resonated with me and stuck in my mind all these years. As an "Aries People", I always have to watch out for my need to be "First in all things" lest it send me down the road of Dr. Doom-like megalomania.
Right Vic?


As a "6-Dimensions" devotee, I thought that I should probably include art that featured such characters that would fit that bill (except for solo pages of the Hulk, Namor and/or Silver Surfer. There's just not enough web-space for all of those).
Here is the page for April, which featured the Scarlet Witch (and the Avengers).

Art by John Buscema, John Romita Sr & Sal Buscema.
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Vision and Scarlet Witch


October featured MAN-THING and other Marvel Monsters;
Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula and Werewolf by Night.
art by Mike Ploog!


The back cover with the big hitters of the year including Strange.


Next stop is a time-jump to... The Bicentennial Calendar of 01976!
All of the monthly artwork were keeping a theme of early American History or patriotism.

Iconic image by John Romita Sr.
Spider-Man, Hulk & Captain America on the fife & drums

September featured an assembly of assorted characters; many of them were ultimately Defenders.

Art by Sal Buscema
Daredevil, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, Daimon Hellstrom; Son of Satan,
Luke Cage; Power-Man, Ghost Rider and Shang-Chi; Master of Kung Fu.


October featured a new twist on the tale of "Ichabod Crane and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow",
featuring Dracula, Man-Thing and Werewolf by Night.
art by Frank Brunner


December featured General Washington crossing the Delaware...
with Scarlet Witch and the Avengers!

art by Jim Mooney
Thor, Iron Man, Vision, George Washington, Captain America, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye.


Back cover which features both Doctor Strange and Man-Thing
(amongst many, many others)


01977 presented the Marvel Comics Memory Album.
Dr. Strange is VERY happy to be promoted to the FRONT COVER - with Howard the Duck!

art by John Romita Sr.
Dr. Strange, Conan, Thing, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Howard.

The theme to this year's calendar was a "Memory Album" and as such, would feature scenes from comic issues.

Introduction and contents pages.


July showcased Dr. Strange's first encounter with Nightmare, from Strange Tales # 110.
art by Gene Colan
who seemed to have forgotten that Strange had the big blue/purple cloak back then.

October featured Dracula vs the "Nightstalkers"; Blade, Frank Drake & the Van Helsing's.

art by Gene Colan

The calendar-month featured "Marvel-ous Monsters" like Man-Thing.


December featured the Defenders vs Yandroth's Omegatron from Marvel Feature # 1.

art by Sal Buscema


Back Cover art of Front Cover art.


By 01978, Marvel stopped trying to have "themes" and just dedicated the years to solo characters.
First up... SPIDER-MAN!

classic Romita Sr. pose.


We're just jumping straight to December where Spidey's many team-up friends are featured, including;
Doctor Strange, Man-Thing, Howard the Duck and many "6-Dimensions" characters.

art by John Byrne


01979 featured the HULK as the solo star.
art by Romita Sr.


December featured the Doctor Strange and the Dynamic Defenders!art by Ed Hannigan and Klaus Janson
Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Nighthawk, Hellcat, Dr. Strange, Hulk, Red Guardian, Howard the Duck and Valkyrie



01980 was dedicated to
"The Occult World of DOCTOR STRANGE"

Front cover - Dave Cockrum (pencils) Tom Palmer (inks)

We'll be saving the 01980 Doctor Strange calendar for PART III of this series.
Be sure to come back when we will present EVERY single page from that calendar.


ALSO... as a bonus... THIS 1980 calendar was the same day pagination as the past year of 2008, and as such, I used it as my calendar for that year.
2009 is the same day pagination as 1981, so the next calendar is also a stand-in for this new year's as well!


01981 was the 20th Anniversary of Marvel Comics
(starting from the publication of Fantastic Four # 1)
and as such, the theme and/or singular hero focus was abandoned in lieu of a smorgasbord of as many heroes as they could. Some would get solo months, and others would be in group shots.

cover art by John Byrne
Captain America, Human Torch, Black Panther, Invisible Girl, Mr. Fantastic, Cyclops, Thing, Iron-Man, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Power Man, Hulk, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Thor


Introduction page.
Click to read.


October, as usual, was all about Man-Thing and the Monsters!

artwork by as many artists as there are monsters in this collage of creepy critters.
the collage was assembled by Paty (Cockrum)


December was a showcase of everybody else who had not been showcased in the other months.

art by Rudy Nebres
Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Punisher, Moon Knight, Shanna, She-Hulk, Shang-Chi, Luke Cage, Nighthawk, Tigra, Black Goliath, Nick Fury, Namor, Valkyrie, Ka-Zar, Spider-Woman, Hellcat, Howard the Duck, Machine-Man, Ant-Man and Marvel Boy.

The end of the year wrap up with Aunt May presenting the Birthday cake.


The 01981 calendar, sadly, was the last in this series.
It might not be readily evident in the photographs, but the overall quality of the 01981 calendar was sub-par as compared to the others.
The paper was thin, where the previous calendars were printed on sturdy stock.
The spiral center was flimsy and easily warped, where the earlier years had a strong center coil.

After this, the license for Marvel calendars was left in limbo, as I had not seen any further calendars for several years, and then, as we shall see in Part II of this series, they were manufactured by other publishers and printed in a variety of styles and sizes.

Check back again "in the future" for Part II of "Time Warp" - The Modern Marvel Calendars.


wade said...

Thanks a lot for this article. I recently picked up my first classic Marvel calendar, the one from 1976, and I absolutely love it.

The reason I bought it is that I am as huge a Silver Surfer fan as you are a fan of Dr. Strange, and have all of his appearances except for the Not Brand Echhs, which I cannot seem to find in decent shape. The 1976 calendar what appears to be Jim Starlin's first Silver Surfer artwork on a stunning piece that also includes Adam Warlock and Captain Marvel. Ah, if only Starlin had been allowed to do cosmic stories in the seventies involving the Surfer...

I was wondering if you could tell me which calendars have original Silver Surfer artwork. It looks like the Hulk calendar does, but from what you wrote, it seems that there might be more.

~P~ said...

Hi Wade,

You... you're not DEADPOOL are you?
I don't want to run the risk of getting shot in the face or anything.

Anyway, I just noticed that you are the FIRST commenter for this old blog post.

And the REALLY weird thing is... these calendar posts get the MOST return hits than practically ANYTHING I have ever posted here.

But no one else has bothered to write anything about these CLASSIC calendars, although a few comments were made about the overall series in the later installments.

Anyway, back to your question/comment:

NOT BRAND ECCH is hard to find in good condition.
I've got the full run and have multiple copies of many issues, because the first copies I bought were merely "OK", and then I found better copies later.

As for the calendars, that STARLIN piece in the 1976 calendar was a bit of a hodge-podge.
The illos of WARLOCK and CAPT. MARVEL were old stand-by poses (not drawn ON this same board - as readily evident that he inked those himself, but pasted on afterwards).

The pose of SURFER is much more sketchy, inked by ALAN WEISS (who gets a name credit on the piece).

WEISS also MAY have drawn the old colonial sailing ship scene as well, since he is very well known for liking to draw period pieces (westerns, old time stories, etc...).

Sadly, that month's illustration is the "weakest" one in the calendar (even more so than the lame one of the "Defenders" as shown above), as each month gets a unique look at Super Heroes interacting with colonial history.
That pic is just three characters in static poses with a sailing ship scene under them.

Definitely a hasty composite.

What's stranger still is that Surfer only appears in a few of these "classic" calendars, and doesn't show up again for a few years - until 1979 - the HULK calendar!

Surfer is on TWO original pics in 1979.
One is for the month of MAY in which Surfer VS HULK - both standing on his surfboard.
Art by George Perez and inked by several inkers.
I can see John Romita inked Surfer and it appears Alan Weiss inked the Hulk.

The other is shown in the blog above. The DEFENDERS by Ed Hannnigan and Klaus Janson.

The only other "classic" calendar with Surfer is for the last one: 1981.
NOVEMBER has a new illo by John Buscema and inked by Sal Buscema.

He is also on the cover, drawn just for the calendar, by John Byrne (you can see that pic in the post above as well).

I think one reason that Surfer isn't showcased all that much in these early years is that Stan Lee still had tight control over the character, and since only STAN was allowed to write Surfer stories, he wasn't in the public eye as much as the other characters, and so was omitted.

Out of sight - out of mind.

Surfer does start to show up more in the "modern" era calendars, but nearly all of these were NOT original pieces, but instead just reproductions of other - previously released - artwork.

One exception to that rule was the 1997 calendar.
That calendar used art that WAS specially made for both IT and a Marvel Universe hardcover book that was released at the same time.

Surfer appears in several original pieces.
Just go visit the next installment to this series and take a look at the 1997 calendar.
I have at least one of those pics showcased there.

I'll also be selling off one of my "extra" copies of that calendar on eBay soon.
(And the Not Brand Ecch's I guess)

I'll be sure to make a blog post when I do so.

Hope this info helps you.
Good luck and happy hunting!


Wade said...

Thanks a lot for this. I don't know if there is any other way I could have found out about that original Surfer stuff in the calendars. I will definitely be on the look-out for those two calendars that I do not have.

I understand your assessment of the Starlin piece in the 76 calendar, but for me being such a huge Starlin and Surfer fan, it was quite a treat to see piece done in the 70s that had those three characters on the same page.

As for the Not Brand Ecchs, I actually do have #1, but am missing #9-13. If your double copies were in fine or better, I would be interested in buying them.

As for the 97 calendar, I have the original first printing of the Marvel Universe book, so I don't think I will bother with a calendar that essentially reprints the MU book.

Thanks again. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually looking for the Hulk 1979 Calendar to complete my set. Please contact me at is anyone knows where I can get one or if somebody is selling one? Please let me know!! I want it badly!!

Erick said...

Thanks for the great blog and this post on the Marvel calendars. I had most of these when I was a kid.

I was thinking that October 1976 page was a take on Paul Revere. Since it was the Bicentennial.

I hope you don't mind, I'm gonna use your 1976 calendar pictures for a July 4th post on my blog. Of course I'll link to your blog.

Happy 4th of July!

Anonymous said...

I love this site. Thank you. I've never seen the Dr. Strange calendar before. The calendars back in the 70's were just amazing. So much detail. In fact the fellow who won the contest in the 76 calendar was from Marina, CA, where I lived at the time. I never met him, and sadly, Marvel never used the character as promised. But it was still cool.

Robert Farrell

Anonymous said...

nice stuff!
Could you post a hi-res scan of the Hulk by MIke Golden page? or send it to me? I would sure appreciate that!
plouinet at yahoo dot com

~P~ said...

Hey Anonymous,

All my pics for calendars are done by standing on a chair above a table with my digital camera.
(yeah... real high-tech wizardry. I know)

I don't have a scanner big enough to accomodate this without photoshopping two sides together - and that hardly EVER works out perfectly.

HOWEVER, I DID look online and found a few places where that pic is hosted.

Here's one I found in like 2 minutes:

If that one isn't high res, just look around. I'm SURE you'll find more.

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