DC Comics had two main treasury-sized titles--Famous First Edition, which reprinted some of DC's most historic books in the larger format, and Limited Collectors' Edition, which was made up 90% of reprinted material under a single theme. Later, when DC would sometimes use all-new material, they re-named the book All-New Collectors' Edition. For some reason, DC also used their all-purpose title, DC Super Special, to do a couple of treasury titles, as well.
The classic 70s "treasury edition" made its debut on October 24, 1972 when DC released Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was a visually striking package and the durability of the covers was undoubtedly a selling point to parents more accustomed to buying Little Golden Books than comics. The Limited Collectors' Editions would also allow DC access to various chain stores and smaller retailers that didn't normally carry periodicals. Indeed, some of these stores, failing to recognize the collections as a returnable comic book, stocked them with children's books and never returned unsold stock for credit.*

DC used began using a numbering system on the tabloids beginning with #C-21. Like other giant series of the time such as 100-Page Super Spectaculars, DC used a letter prefix and started skipped several numbers. Issues #1-20 do not exist. The Overstreet Price Guide lists the original Rudolph tabloid unofficially as Limited Collectors' Edition #C-20, though it was not numbered or labeled as such.

After 4 bi-monthly issues of LCE, DC began releasing two treasury-sized comics together every other month. Both were part of Series "C", but one was called Famous First Edition. FFEs were exact reprints of famous Golden Age comics, beginning with Action Comics #1. After three issues published in the "C" series, FFE split off to become its own series, labeled "F". DC continued to publish Limited Collectors' Edition until #C-50, 1976.

After an 8 month hiatus, DC returned to the treasury-sized format in 1977. Now priced at $2, the tabloids began alternating between reprinted material (still labeled Limited Collectors' Edition) and new material (All-New Collectors' Edition). When DC returned to the treasury-sized format briefly in 1981, they were labeled as part of DC Special Series, not Series "C".**

DC had hopes of eventually publishing new material in the tabloids but their only ongoing success in that area was a series of Rudolph collections (#s 33, 42, 50, 53, 60) and a volume devoted to the Bible (#36). In 1976, plans were afoot for two all-new Easter editions ("The Story of Jesus" and "Rudolph's Easter Parade"), Sheldon Mayer's adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" and an ambitious four-part series devoted to "The Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table." None ever came to be.***(see below for a page devoted to DC's "Lost Treasuries")

DC made a brief stab at the return of the treasury format in the late '90s with two titles--Superman/Fantastic Four, and JLA: Heaven's Ladder. The combined marketplace might of Alex Ross and Paul Dini insured that DC published their six collaborations--starting with 1998's Superman: Peace on Earth--in their chosen treasury format. Even though these books were superb in quality and very popular, DC released no new treasury-sized comic since their last book, 2003's JLA: Liberty and Justice. Even when they reprinted the six Ross/Dini titles under one cover in 2005, they were presented in the now-popular 9x12" format.

October 2009: DC brought the concept of giant-size comics roaring back to life in the summer of 2009, with the release of their weekly, 12-part series Wednesday Comics. Wednesday Comics, when unfolded, featured sixteen 14x20" pages--so while the series wasn't exactly in the classic "treasury" format, the series was a throwback to the days when comics were big!

           

Marvel hit ground with their treasury-sized titles in 1974 with real style. Instead of the fairly odd choiced DC made to headline their treasuries, Marvel started with--of course--Spider-Man, under the banner of a new title baring a #1 on its cover. Marvel pretty much stuck to its biggest stars for their treasuries--Spidey, Hulk, Conan--as well as adaptations of licensed properties, like Star Wars and G.I.Joe.

Marvel kept their treasuries going longer than DC did (DC, by then, had mostly shifted way to the other end of the spectrum, concentraing on digest comics. Marvel's experiments with digest-sized comics were scattershot at best), but when they stopped them, they essentially never returned.

The nicest thing about collecting Marvel treasuries over DC ones is that Marvel's were squarebound, while DC's were stapled. I've found that Marvel treasuries are a lot easier to find in better condition now than their DC counterparts.

What's Missing: What I thought was complete might now not be. With the recent addition of the treasury-sized Spider-Man and Captain America "Giant Comics To Color" coloring books by Whitman, I'm now wondering if there are even more in the series. We'll see...

     

Other publishers did their own treasury/tabloid comics, as well.

Early examples are Fawcett's Master Comics, which ran for 6 issues in 1940 (before changing the comic to the standard size for the rest of its run), and Lev Gleason's treasury-sized crime comic called Tops. It only ran for 2 issues in the late 1940s, and are now very rare. Unlike Master, which we have scans of, I have never seen either issue of Tops, so for now they are a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in newsprint. (Treasurycomics.com will not rest until we index them here!) Then in 1961, Racine Press put out a series of four books called Golden Picture Story Book that featured Disney and Hanna-Barbera charcters (scans and info to come). So these companies got there way early, and the treasury format layed pretty dormant until the late 1960s, when Western released their Jungle Book adaptation.

Other than Fawcett, only DC or Marvel ever devoted a regular title to the format, the rest preferring mostly one-shots. The closest you get to a series is Modern Promotions' Giant Comic Album, who produced nine volumes of comic-strip reprint books.

What's Missing: From the information I've been able to gather since posting the site, the treasuries we're still missing are: the above-mentioned two-issue Lev Gleason series Tops, a 1970 Byron Preiss/Jim Steranko educational comic called The Block (although we do have some info on it, see below), and a rumored and as-of-yet-unnamed late 1990s comic by Richard "Grass" Green. Every time I think I know of every treasury comic that exists, I find something heretofore unknown--like the recently(for me)-discovered Master Comics or Little Nemo--so I'm not sure when this list will ever be able to be called "complete."

Until then, the cosmic ballet goes on...

JB 2
Little Annie Fanny Little Annie Fanny ZvR
       

The treasury-format wasn't limited to comics in the U.S. Various countries published their own treasuries, licensing DC, Marvel, and other properties. Courtesy Treasury Hunter Rogerio Baldino come a tour through various countries' treasury comics!

 
Exclusive! Click on the logo and covers at top to read a two-part article about Ebal and the history of Brazilian treasury comics!
 
Exclusive! Click on the logo and covers at top to read a history of French DC treasury comics!
 
Exclusive! Click on the logo and covers at top to read a history of German DC treasury comics!
 
Exclusive! Click on the logo and covers at top to read a history of Italian DC treasury comics!
Exclusive! Click on the logo and covers at top to read a history of Spanish DC treasury comics!
 
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email: namtab29@comcast.net • all characters © their respective copyright holders • site © 2012 Rob Kelly

**This information courtesy Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics. * and *** courtesy John Wells at SilverBulletcomics.com.