In 1972 DC Comics published RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER as a giant oversized comic book measuring roughly 11x 14 which would come to be known as a “Treasury Size” or Tabloid. This large book stood out at newsstands and sported a $1 cover price which was about 3x the price of a normal comic book.
Treasuries were first put out because the cost of producing a larger book of solely reprinted material (in Rudolph’s case comics from the 1940s) was about the same as producing a standard comic book but offered 3x the profit at the higher price point.
In this time of the early Bronze Age Era of comics, Marvel Comics was still a vast junior to DC Comics in terms of cash capital, although their books sold extremely well they didn’t benefit from the large parent company DC Comics had giving them deeper pockets and therefore able to experiment with a concept and absorb the risk.
Marvel took note of the success of the Treasury and introduced their first offering into the genre with THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN in 1974. The book reprinted stories from Amazing Spider-Man #14, Strange Tales Annual #2, ASM #42, Marvel Superheroes #14, ASM #90 and ran 94 pages. The book was a success for Marvel and Spider-Man would go on to have several more editions.
Marvel jumped in full on and produced between 2 and 5 Treasuries every year from 1974 – 1980 featuring their stable of characters. Conan and The Hulk (who had a popular TV series at the time) would rival Spider-Man’s treasury success, and The Fantastic Four, Thor, The Avengers, The Defenders and Howard the Duck would all get their own shot at the oversize market.
In addition to the solo titles Marvel Produced several Team Up titles including their Holiday Editions which would feature Christmas themed stories from their archives.
The Distinguished Competition kept up the pace with their own titles starting with a giant Summer 1973 issue of SHAZAM which reprinted Captain Marvel’s Golden Age Stories and soon in 1974 a BATMAN TREASURY featuring a great Neal Adams cover which reprinted stories from Batman’s Golden Age right up to the present day. DC often included new material in the form of character model sheets, puzzles and dioramas which could be cut out and assembled from the back cover of the book.
Caption: Detail showing back cover diorama which destroyed many of these books when kids put them together.
In 1975 Marvel and DC did the unthinkable and teamed up to produce THE WIZARD OF OZ in what would be the first intracompany collaboration between comics big two companies which lead to the monumental landmark SUPERMAN VS THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in 1976 which pitted the two flagship characters of each company against each other in a story plotted by Gerry Conway (the man who killed Gwen Stacy a few years earlier) and drawn by Russ Andru and Dick Giordano.
This type of super sized story was perfect for the oversized format and lead to a sequel a few years later but not before Superman would take on the World Heavyweight Champion in 1978 with SUPERMAN VS MUHAMMAD ALI featuring a story by Denny O’Neil and art by Neal Adams.
From the beginning DC embraced the Treasury Editions even more than Marvel did putting out FAMOUS FIRST EDITIONS which reprinted some of the origin issues of their top characters in the larger format. It’s worth noting that there were cases of the outer cover being removed and the Treasury comics being passed off to unsuspecting collectors as the genuine article because in those days before the internet most fans knew Golden Age Comics were larger but few had seen them in person. The treasuries did remarkably well because they stood out so much on the newsstands and having a higher cover price meant better profit for the seller.
Archie Comics got into the mix with CHRISTMAS WITH ARCHIE while Marvel and DC continued their output featuring a wide variety of licensed properties including STAR WARS, BUCK ROGERS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, WELCOME BACK KOTTER, TARZAN, YOGI BEAR, THE FLINTSTONES and many more. The genre wound down when DC teamed with Marvel again to pit two of it’s second most popular characters in BATMAN VS THE INCREDIBLE HULK by Len Wein and Jose Garcia Lopez released in 1981.
Treasuries have attempted comebacks over the years as publishers and collectors embrace the larger size but nothing has taken hold like these Bronze Age Beauties!
DC COMICS TREASURY
C-20 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER Nov 1972
C-21 SHAZAM! Summer 1973
C-22 TARZAN Fall 1973
C-24 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER Nov 1973
C-25 BATMAN Jan 1974
C-26 FF ACTION COMICS #1 1974
C-27 SHAZAM! 1974
C-28 FF DETECTIVE COMICS #27 1974
C-29 TARZAN 1974
C-30 FF SENSATION COMICS #1 1974
C-31 SUPERMAN Oct 1974
C-32 GHOSTS Dec 1974
C-33 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER Feb 1975
C-34 CHRISTMAS W THE SUPERHEROES Feb 1975
C-35 SHAZAM Apr 1975
C-36 THE BIBLE Jun 1975
C-37 BATMAN Aug 1975
C-38 SUPERMAN Oct 1975
C-39 SECRET ORIGINS SUPER VILLAINS Oct 1975
C-40 DICK TRACY Dec 1975
C-41 SUPER FRIENDS Dec 1975
C-42 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER Feb 1976
C-43 CHRISTMAS W THE SUPERHEROES Feb 1976
C-44 BATMAN Jun 1976
C-45 MORE SECRET ORIGINS SUPER VILLAINS Jun 1976
C-46 JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA Aug 1976
C-47 SUPERMAN SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL Aug 1976
C-48 SUPERMAN VS THE FLASH 1976
C-49 SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION Oct 1976
C-50 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER Dec 1976
C-51 BATMAN VS RA’S AH GHUL Aug 1977
C-52 THE BEST OF DC 1977
C-53 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER Jan 1978
C-54 SUPERMAN VS WONDER WOMAN 1978
C-55 SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION 1978
C-56 SUPERMAN VS MUHAMMAD ALI 1978
C-57 WELCOME BACK KOTTER 1978
C-58 SUPERMAN VS SHAZAM! 1978
C-59 BATMAN’S STRANGEST CASES 1978
C-60 RUDOLPH’S SUMMER FUN 1978
C-61 FF SUPERMAN #1 Mar 1979
C-62 SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE 1979
C-63 FF NEW FUN #1 2020
DC FAMOUS FIRST EDITIONS
F-4 FF WHIZ COMICS #2 Oct 1974
F-5 FF BATMAN #1 Feb 1975
F-6 FF WONDER WOMAN #1 Apr 1975
F-7 FF ALL STAR COMICS #3 Jun 1975
F-8 FF FLASH COMICS #1Aug 1975
DC SPECIAL SERIES
25 SUPERMAN II 1981
26 SUPERMAN AND HIS FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE 1981
27 BATMAN VS THE INCREDIBLE HULK 1981
PUBLISHED WITH NO NUMBERS
AMAZING WORLD OF SUPERMAN 1973
MARVELOUS WIZARD OF OZ 1975
SUPERMAN VS THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 1976
MARVEL TREASURY EDITION
01 THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN 1974
02 THE FABULOUS FANTASTIC FOUR 1974
03 THE MIGHTY THOR 1975
04 CONAN THE BARBARIAN 1975
05 THE HULK ON THE RAMPAGE 1975
06 DOCTOR STRANGE 1975
07 MIGHTY AVENGERS 1975
08 GIANT SUPERHERO HOLIDAY GRAB-BAG 1975
09 GIANT SUPERHERO TEAM-UP 1976
10 THE MIGHTY THOR 1976
11 THE FABULOUS FANTASTIC FOUR 1976
12 HOWARD THE DUCK 1976
13 GIANT SUPERHERO HOLIDAY GRAB-BAG 1976
14 THE SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN 1977
15 CONAN THE BARBARIAN 1977
16 THE DEFENDERS 1978
17 THE INCREDIBLE HULK 1978
18 THE ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN 1978
19 CONAN THE BARBARIAN 1978
20 THE RAMPAGING HULK 1979
21 FANTASTIC FOUR 1979
22 THE SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN 1979
23 CONAN THE BARBARIAN 1979
24 THE RAMPAGING HULK 1979
25 SPIDER-MAN & HULK AT WINTER OLYMPICS 1980
26 THE RAMPAGING HULK 1980
27 THE SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN 1980
28 SUPERMAN AND SPIDER-MAN 1981
PUBLISHED WITHOUT NUMBERS
THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN 1975
STAR WARS 1 (reprints #1-3) 1977
STAR WARS 2 (reprints #4-6) 1977
STAR WARS 3 (reprints #1-6) 1978
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND 1978
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK 1980
GIANT SUPERHERO GRAB-BAG 1974
CAPTAIN AMERICA’S BICENTENNIAL BATTLES 1976
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 1976
FUNTASTIC WORLD OF HANNA BARBERA 1977
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 1978
BUCK ROGERS GIANT MOVIE EDITION 1979
GI JOE SPECIAL TREASURY EDITION 1982
ANNIE TREASURY EDITION 1982
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