Before There Were Artist Editions…

There were Treasury Editions! Before there were Artist Editions and the like, both Marvel and DC experimented with oversize volumes that collected both reprints and original stories. They were printed in oversize volumes, roughly 10.5″ x 13.5″. Printed on regular newsprint with standard 4 colour palettes. So they were certainly not as large as the 11×17 size of Artists Editions (AE) and no where near the twice up size of some of the AE that IDW and others have done but in there time, 1974 -1981, they were certainly a sight to behold and like AE, a challenge to find bags and boards for as well as store safely.

marvel-treasury-edition-1The first issue of Spectacular Spider-Man had 1000 copies signed and numbered on the cover by Stan Lee and John Romita, and were available only through mail order. Overstreet lists a 9.2 signed copy at $210.00.

Most were collections of earlier stories from Spider-Man, Fantastic Four or whichever character was featured, and there were many. From Marvel’s flagships like Thor, Hulk and Conan to some of their lesser lights like the Defenders and Howard the Duck. There were also Seasonal Specials for Christmas and adaptations of the Wizard of Oz and 2001 A Space Odyssey.

DC was putting out the “Collector’s Editions” of Neal Adams Batman with the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul and the Lord of the Jungle Tarzan.

And then of course there was the joint Superman/Spider-Man crossover that Marvel and DC collaborated on.

Who didn’t love Superman Vs Muhammad Ali?

My favorites of these are the adaptation that Jack Kirby did on 2001 and his Captain America’s BiCentennial Battles. It was certainly later in his career, and after his return to Marvel fresh from his stint at DC, but for me, especially the 2001 adaptation was really a sight to see and Kirby’s largess perfectly fit the story and the format of the oversized editions.

DC’s Tarzan and the Return of Tarzan being my favorites for them, followed oh so closely by Neal’s Batman saga.

2001-a-space-odyssey-treasuryThe price tag on these books at the time varied between $1.00 to $2.50. Nowadays you will spend anywhere from $20- $50 depending on grade and title to get decent copies in VF or better condition and they can usually be found at a few vendors booths at any large Con.

That was the closest thing to seeing the art at roughly the size it was produced in, but I do remember thinking even at the time that for the most part, other than the size the lack of quality reproduction kind of fell flat for me.

I am sure my sentiments will be pretty well echoed by you, the faithful reader of this missive, but nostalgia as we know, is a powerful drug, and I am certainly glad to have picked up a few of these issues just for that sake alone.

So which ones were your favorites? Do you still have them?

If not… continued Happy Collecting!

P.S Marvel Announced the return of the Treasury Edition featuring Spidey by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw! The price is now $15.99! Ouch!

Dennis De Pues
Dennis De Pues

Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.

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Afta Comics
Afta Comics
7 years ago

Nice! I still have mine from when I was a kid in the early 70’s… I actually have all of the Marvel and DC treasurys including the elusive Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer (1972) which was the first to be published by DC. I never had a production quality problem with these. They are getting tougher to find above Very Fine.

Dennis De Pues
7 years ago

I have recently, over the last 2 years or so, ,found a surprising amount of books available at local Cons.I was surprised to find most in VF or better shape.Congrats on the Rudolph score.I forgot all about that one!

Scott VanderPloeg
7 years ago

I’ve been collecting these for a few years now and have seen prices of 8.0 and higher jump significantly. Used to be able to get any Treasury for $10-$20 and now I’m seeing $60-$200.

Dave Mackay
Dave Mackay
7 years ago

For some reason Dennis, when I read the Thor Treasury as a young reader I noticed just how beautiful the Jack Kirby Art was. ( J.I.M issues)
I always loved Jack but I think it was his distinctive layouts and story telling that I had only noticed up until then. But seeing Thor battle Hercules and the panels enlarged….what beautiful imagery. I dare say I even loved Colletta’s inking.
I too bought the Rudolph issues Afta. They were always available at Christmas and really enhanced the Seasonal Feel. And my sisters loved them too !!

Dennis De Pues
7 years ago

Hey dave,
I know a lot of people speak ill of Vinnie Colletta’s work but I agree that his work on Thor was one of the things that gave Thor a refreshingly unique look.Yes I know about him erasing back grounds or characters entirely, but he was asked to do a job by a deadline and is credited as being the go to inker in case of the dreaded deadline doom.It may not seem right but I find it hard to believe that he would do it just for spite. Some issues were better than others but one thing I never heard was how long in advance he would get the pages from Kirby.I also never heard of Kirby complaining and he (Vinnie) went over to DC as well when the King left Marvel and inked a ton of Jacks work there as well.