Tuesday 11 May 2010

Show and Tell: Pocket Marvels – The First Trade Paperbacks?

I thought I'd bring these in to show the class today:

What are they? They're 160-page paperback reprints of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original Amazing Spider-Man comics (and Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spidey) from 1962-63, reformatted for a smaller size (175 x 110mm). Those are volumes one and two there, published in 1977 and 1978, both with typically alliterative forewords from Lee himself. They were published by Pocket in the States, but these are the UK versions, which were published by Wyndham – exactly the same as the US ones, except with different publisher logos on the cover.

I picked them up in a flea market in Brighton a few months ago, but I dimly recall reading one or both when I were a nipper in the late 1970s. Back then, these were pretty much the only way to read those old Amazing Spider-Mans, the odd reprint in the black-and-white weekly UK Spectacular Spider-Man comic aside. There was no such thing as trade paperbacks (i.e. book-length collections of comics) or graphic novels in those days, not as far as I was aware anyway, so these digest paperbacks were how I read Spidey's earliest adventures. And they're nice little books: on the imprint page it states they were "printed from brand-new plates", so the linework is really clean and the colours really vibrant.

So were these and the other digests like them (DC published some too I believe) the first trade paperbacks?


  1. I've got a Fantastic Four one knocking around which reprints the first four issues in tiny scale!

  2. Sounds like the same format! Teeny tiny comics.