Thursday, 12 June 2014


In 1938, Britain's Collin's Clear Type Press, one of the two leading publishers of Disney books in the UK in the pre-war era, began publishing Donald Duck annuals, modeled on the Mickey Mouse annuals which were being published by the rival British Disney publisher, Dean, since 1930. These early annuals of the pre-war (and war-time) are very thick (100+ pages) books, compromising illustrated stories, comics and games. Actually, none of the early annuals have printed dates, so dating them is sometimes tricky and since esp. the early Donald Duck annuals are rare and obscure, there is little, if any info, on them. This one has ads for the Snow White books from the same publisher which indicate that it is indeed from 1938, as online sellers date it.  
The color plate at the beginning of this first Donald Duck annual features an illustration clearly inspired from the cartoon short Donald's Better Self (1938) and the opening story of the annual is an illustrated story adaptation of that cartoon. The annual includes illustrated story adaptations of several other Disney cartoons such as Donald's Ostrich (1937). Some of these material may have originated from American publications. Most of the comics in the annual are indeed re-formatted versions of American newspaper strips, but there are a few short gag-comics/caricatures of apparent British origin, the most elaborate (in the sense it has more than two panels!) of the latter is the below one on page 13:

Below is the cover of the 1939 annual. These first two annuals are relatively less rare than the rest, perhaps they had a higher print run in the pre-war era as opposed to the dire economic conditions of the war-time years.

The below annual, on the other hand, is one of the rarest: I've seen it offered on ebay only once (in 2007) and at the time, I couldn't figure if it was the 1940 or 1942 annual:

The below annual is not as rare and is reported by its sellers as the 1941 annual:

The below one is also one of the rarest; actually, I had never seen it until last month when it appeared on ebay (and sold for at the affordable opening price of 15 pounds sterling; I was naturally so frustrated that I missed it!). It's listed as the 1942 annual, so I now figure that the obscure 'Loads of Laughter' annual must be the 1940 one.

The below book is listed as the 1943 annual. Some editions do not carry the word "Annual" on the cover, but others do. The 1942 and the 1943 annuals are not as brick-thick as the earlier annuals. This is the last known British Donald Duck annual in the war-time era, but Collins would publish other annnual-like Donald Duck books around those years.

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