Thunder is my favourite adventure comic and I was over the moon when I discovered it also had some annuals. Although the title folded after a short run of just 22 issues in March 1971 several annuals appeared under its name. There were three in total, and ran from 1972 to 1974. All the annuals have beautiful, hand-painted covers, and I'll be taking a look at each annual individually for this post.
The 1972 annual has my favourite cover. The art is just fantastic in every aspect - the brush strokes in the sky which give a sense of a calm and peaceful setting as well as showing rays of sunlight and movement, the way the illustration seems to move so fast and the beautiful background scenery, which is vexed and disturbed by the ferocious giant bat viciously attacking a German plane! The artist must have spent many hours of dedicated work on the cover, which is based upon the strip Black Max (which was illustrated by Alfonso Font in the weekly, but whether or not he drew this cover I can't say).
There is just so much to look at on that cover, and I feel reluctant to continue inside, but continue I will.
The first page inside has an advertisement for the story Deadly Danger in the Garden Of Fear. It's a very long story - 28 pages split into two parts. That's a bit too long to be showing here, but here's one page so you get to see what the story is about.
This 60p annual also came with facts, jokes and puzzles, and unlike many annuals of the time, also had a few text stories in there too!
Thunder also had one or two humour strips within its pages, such as Sam, which was a reprint of Leo Baxendale's Biff. Here however, is a Spooks of St. Luke's strip. Now I can't be sure, but I suspect this is a reprint from Lion comic.
Onwards to 1973!
The 1973 annual has my least favourite cover. Although it is still a good illustration, it doesn't seem to have as much life as the other two, although that said and I do like the steam coming out of the tank's barrel. I think that the Steel Commando's artist was Alex Henderson, so I'll assume he drew this cover as well.
This annual cost 65p - five pence more that the one preceding it, and just like the other twp the first page advertised a strip that appeared later in the book, this time Fury's Family.
I haven't shown any complete adventure strips yet, so I show this eight-page adventure that goes by the title of The Lair Of The Beast. I don't know who drew it, but they also drew a strip with the same characters in the previous annual, called 'The Quest For The Golden Egg'. There was a final one in the following annual, entitled 'The Forbidden Valley'.
This annual also had a nice snowy Sam strip; I love snow in comics!
This final Thunder annual cost five pence more still, coming up to a total price of 70p with Adam Eterno starring on the cover. Black Max was the advertised strip this time, with a very nice full-page illustration too, I love the use of the full moon in the background.
And the last strip I'll be showing is Phil the Fluter. Phil had twice as many pages per strip in the annual compared to the weekly comic, with each strip being spread out over four pages rather than the usual two. I think the artist is Tom Kerr.
That sums up the look at these three annuals. They weren't ridiculously expensive, although did cost a bit more that the Beano and Dandy books from the same years, as would be expected. However, the first annual must have been popular enough for another two to follow it, and they each had 160 pages filled with fantastic artwork, so you were definitely getting value for money.
It's a real shame Thunder didn't catch on, it was a very quality comic with fantastic art in each and every issue. Instead of the success it deserved, it folded into Lion in March 1971 after a mere 22 issues.