The year was 1966: America was gripped by Beatlemania, the England football team won the World Cup, and the first Tom & Jerry annual was launched a few months before Xmas. Ah, it was a good year to be English (or so I imagine, being born 11 years too late!).
This was published by World Distributors, who were already publishing annuals based on classic American cartoons years before, with Bugs Bunny in the 50's and the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, and Top Cat annuals during the early 60's. Before then, publishers Dean launched the first Mickey Mouse annual in 1930, and Felix annuals popped up a decade before. It's a wonder why Tom & Jerry annuals arrived much later than their fellow animated stars.
World would only publish one T&J annual in the 60's, before embarking on a regular yearly run during 1970-83. Throughout the series (and indeed like the vast majority of these annuals), these books consisted mostly of reprints of American comic strips (published by Western Publishing), with some original illustrated stories and jokes/puzzles/activity pages.
To kick-start this new series, let's take a peek at some of the select pages from this annual, starting with the front cover:
Four T&J comic strips appeared in this annual, the following are the first pages from each strip:
To complement the T&J strips, Barney Bears appears (with his nephews Fuzzy & Wuzzy) in a couple of his own:
Not to be outdone, T&J stalwarts Spike & Tyke get their own couple of adventures:
Another twin set of strips feature a character who is relatively unknown in Blighty: Wuff the Prairie Dog, specially created for the T&J comics in the US:
But there is more T&J stuff to come: Four illustrated stories are featured, and here are the openings from three of them:
However, here is a complete story, in which even Tom & Jerry themselves were influenced by the British music invasion (check out their moptops!):
There will be more selected Tom & Jerry annuals appearing in the future, alongside others (watch out for Looney Tunes, Pink Panther, Top Cat, and more). Unfortunately, due to a HUGE collection, I'm unable to show them all, but I do hope you enjoy viewing my selections and inspire you to collect these gems, whether they are British annuals or classic American comics.
And if you can identify the artists and/or original publishing dates, feel free to post a comment. Share it to the world!