Let me tell you about the Marvel Comics Tenth Anniversary covers. I’m going to tell you about them because I don’t think a lot of people know this information. Besides some people that I’ve told no one calls Marvel’s Tenth Anniversary covers anything but the covers in a box.

In the early 1970’s, for about a year (August 1971-September 1972), Marvel had a unifying cover design on their comic books. It consisted of a box in the lower two thirds of the cover that the art resided in with the logo and trade dress outside the box on the upper third of the cover and about a quarter inch border around the outside of the box on both sides and the bottom.

People are split on this period of Marvel’s covers. Some people really can’t stand the “Covers in a box” but then a lot of them are among my favorites. Being that I started collecting comic books in the mid-1970s, I put it at early 1976, those comics were a little before my time but I still occasionally found them around the neighborhood from older kids. They always caught my eye.

Over the years I would collect those particular covers whenever I saw them. There was never any organization to my collecting of them but if I saw one, and could get it, I would. One of the reasons I think I liked them is that a lot of them were done by Gil Kane. He did a lot of covers for marvel in the early to mid-1970s and he was good at them. He could draw, was skilled at design, and could tell a story with a cover.

Probably my favorite cover from this period was Sub-Mariner number 48. That cover is indeed pencilled by Gill Kane and inked by the creator of the Sub-Mariner Bill Everett. It features Dr. Doom on the cover and it hits home for me. Everett’s inks especially look good over Kane. He gives the piece a style and finish that wasn’t usual for Marvel covers.

In 1990 I got to work for Marvel Comics in the production bullpen and I had the privilege of working with art director and legendary artist John Romita. He had been at Marvel for over twenty years at that point and he was art director back when these cover come out. So one day I decided to ask them why they decided to go with a unifying design.

John told me that the design was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of something. He couldn’t remember if it was for the tenth anniversary of the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man. We both figured it must have been the FF because their comic came out before Spider-Man’s comic and the dates line up since 1961 was the year of Fantastic Four number one. But we ended up calling them Marvel’s Tenth Anniversary covers because that was what they were really celebrating. The birth of the Marvel Universe.

The odd thing is that despite this period of covers being well known I don’t think many people know they were done for a tenth anniversary. I’ve never read it anywhere. As far as I know I’m the only one who ever asked John Romita a question about it. I find that strange. But I try to spread the information. I have told this story more than once on my YouTube channel and whenever anyone shows one of the covers I leave a comment that they are the tenth anniversary comics.

I mention those covers because recently I’ve been buying some of them. Specifically issues of Sub-Mariner. On that book the covers lasted from issues 43-56. Fourteen issues. I already have issues 47-51 and 54 so that’s six out of the fourteen. Sub-Mariner isn’t a very desired book and none of these issue are “Key” issues so they don’t go for much money.

Last week was when I decided to look for some of these comics on eBay. There are plenty of them to be found but they are often in bad shape and sellers are looking for more than I want to pay. I ended up looking at a lot of different copies of these but settled on two issues that were fairly cheap and looked in pretty good shape.

I ended up with issues 45 and 46 and I paid, all in, ten dollars for one of them and eleven for the other. Being that there was a five dollar shipping cost the issues themselves were only around five dollars. I got the comics and at a glance I’d grade them at around a 6.5 to 7 out of ten. They both have covers that are in nice shape and that is what I really want. I don’t actually want to read these issues. I just like the covers.

Both of the covers are pencilled by Gil Kane and inked by Frank Giacoia. I like both of them. So now I have 45-51 and 54. Eight out of fourteen. Plus just yesterday I purchased issue 55 for about ten dollars all in. When that gets here I’ll have a ninth one in the set.

Now for the big purchase story. Well, relatively big. I mentioned up top that Sub-Mariner 48 was one of my all-time favorite comic book covers. It is and so I decided to see what a graded and slabbed copy of it would go for. That’s when someone pays a company to grade their comic and then put it in a tamper resistant archival plastic container (a slab). That makes it easier to buy and sell high-end comics.

I don’t usually buy slabbed comics since I’m much more of a reader than a collector but sometimes I do buy them. Usually they are cheap and even odd misfit slabbed comics. I find them to be conversation pieces.

I saw a slabbed copy that was an 8.5 and looked good. It had a price on it of $100 plus another $25 in tax and shipping. I didn’t want to spend that much but it had a “make me an offer” button and so I did. I offered $80 and the offer was automatically rejected. That happens when the seller has a minimum in mind and sets it up to automatically reject any offers below that minimum. So I said, “Oh, well” to myself and put it out of my mind.

Then two days later an offer showed up form the seller for $82.50. It was just $2.50 more than I was willing to spend two nights before so I gave it a little thought and then pulled the trigger. It cost about $105 dollars all in but I had the money and wanted the conversation piece. The copy I have had since childhood is actually in good shape but the 8.5 slab is in even better shape. It’s fun to look at. And sometimes I just need a little fun. And some Marvel Tenth Anniversary comics.